What exactly are literary devices, you may ask.  Well, literary devices are tools used by writers to add depth, artistry, and imagery.  They are common and therefore identifiable to the audience (the readers).  And there are a LOT of possibilities.  This post will define 10 of these tools.

  • Allegory: Using concrete examples to explain a more abstract idea.  E.g. Anxiety is like a roller coaster.  It goes up and down, and it’s hard to predict when the next dive is coming.roller-coaster-1519818_1280
  • Allusion: Referencing a well known person, place, work, or other cultural reference.  E.g. The course of their relationship reminded me of that of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.
  • Anaphora: Taking the beginning of a sentence and repeating it for aesthetic emphasis.  E.g.  In a day when there is so much going on, so much tension, so much confusion, so much darkness, so many misunderstandings, why not try stories as one vehicle to communicate; why not use stories as a way to reach a greater depth of understanding, to shed light on truth, to inspire hope, and to touch hearts and lives?winter-sun-1547273_1280
  • Cacophony: Using words with sounds that sound unpleasant together.  E.g. The creaky floor hissed raucously.
  • Foil: This device is actually using a character whose oppositeness to another provides emphasis.  E.g. The girl stepped back, peaking out from behind the door, while her dog courageously stepped forward, barking at the strange intruder.girl-1004751_1280
  • Foreshadowing: Cluing the reader in on what may come. E.g. As Margo prepared for her day, she caught a glimpse of dark clouds covering the sky. [This can be author code to indicate that something bad is going to happen].
  • Hyperbole: An extreme exaggeration to make a point. E.g. It was so hot outside I almost melted.landscape-666927_1280
  • Portmanteau: Mixing two words together to fashion a new one.  E.g. Hangry= hunger + angry
  • Spoonerism: Swapping the initial letters of words for potential effects of wit or humor.  E.g. She demanded the papers here and now, nere and how! woman-975339_1280
  • Synecdoche: Naming a part with the intent of referring to the entire thing.  E.g. Whiskers over there is driving me crazy! [In reference to a cat, who is not named Whiskers].

There are plenty more literary devices out there.  I may do another post in the future describing some more of these tools.  Do you have any favorite literary devices you use to enhance your writing?


References and Further Information