Back to Basics: Literary Devices

Whether you’re a newly published author, or a writer who is just beginning the publishing journey, soaking up as much knowledge as you can about writing-related topics is a great way to refine your craft and become a well-rounded author.  

Over the past year, we have written blogs that offer tips on different writing techniques such as how to turn your novel into a screenplay, how to write a mystery novel and a memoir, and tips for breaking past writer’s block, among many others.

Today, we want to get back to basics and talk about the actual practice of writing. No, we don’t mean that we are going to teach you how to write cursive legibly (we’ve certainly given up on that hope long ago); we want to refresh your memory about common helpful literary devices and how to use them when writing.

Literary devices are the tools and the techniques of language that writers use in order to communicate meaning. However, it takes time and practice to nurture the skill of utilizing literary devices without sounding too contrived

So, here are five literary devices to consider using when writing your book!

Amplification – This literary device can be viewed as a form of exaggeration. With this literary practice, a writer will enhance a sentence by adding more detail and information in order to add to its understandability. Sometimes, a sentence can be very bland and doesn’t effectively convey the message that it’s trying to articulate. Amplification is a great tool to use when an author wants to embellish a sentence and add more to the structure in an effort to give it more meaning.

Analogy – This common type of literary device is much like the glue that holds two ideas together. Analogies are used to create a relationship that is centered on similarities between two ideas or concepts. These ideas or concepts work off one another in a way that allows the writer to articulate a new idea by referencing an old one. By linking the two ideas together, a writer is able to establish a common understanding, making the reader feel “in the know.”

Conflict – Oftentimes in writing, a conflict arises at some point in the story. This type of literary device expresses a resistance of sorts that the protagonist experiences while achieving their set goal. Conflict can occur within a character or with external aggressors.

Diction – This literary device is the choice and use of words and phrases in speech, and in our case, writing. This distinctive tone of an author’s writing is not solely about their choice of words, it also includes the style of writing, dialect, mood and attitude. It can help set the tone of the story, supporting the connection between the characters and setting.

Foreshadowing – These revealing words or phrases are used to hint at and set the stage for an upcoming story that could unfold. Foreshadowing gives the reader a big enough hint that they may think they know what’s coming, but it doesn’t actually give anything away or spoil the suspense.

These are just five examples of literary devices, so don’t forget to check back in the weeks to come for part two of this series! In the second part of this series, we will offer more examples of literary devices and how to properly use them in order to enrich your writing!

Copyright Dorrance Publishing, 2014