Everyone knows what a simile is, and most people have heard of a metaphor. You won’t learn these phrases off by heart. I certainly haven’t, even after graduating. However, if you are a writer, this may spare you from using a literary dictionary. Well, not all the time, but it’s certainly good to learn something new every day. So, here are a few literary techniques that you may not have heard of before
The name of something we associate with instead of the person e.g. Sandwich. Usually someone or something famous is substituted. It’s a very specific form of synecdoche. If the character has a particular nickname or epithet, this is also a form of eponym.
Ever heard JFK’s famous “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” speech? Well, this term means rephrasing a sentence so the words are flipped like this. It’s often done for emphasis, or paralleling the meaning to show subtle differences in opinions.
When you use a word to mean the opposite of what you write. It can be a form of irony, disguised as a mistake.
4. Dactylic meter
Where we have a rhyming pattern of stressed, unstressed, unstressed in the syllables. If there are five feet, we have dactylic pentameter,if there are two we have dimeter and so on.
5. Par hyponian
This is a logical assumption made when a sentence describes two ambiguous things going on. It can be used as an insult. Here is an example used:
“My wife was sat in a field of flowers, I was with her. There was a moment between the beautiful, fragrant life form next to me and the flower”
The assumption made is that surely the “fragrant life form” is the flower, not the wife. A backhanded compliment, if you will.
6. Pathetic fallacy
Where the weather reflects the mood of the characters, as a form of personification. The human attributes of emotions are reflected to certain weather elements to convey character or even writer interior thoughts. Thomas Hardy is particularly effective for doing this in Tess of the D’urbervilles with the romance between Angel and Tess.
And so there you have it, a beginners guide to a few literary devices that you can employ in your fiction. Please do expriment and see where it takes you. If you have any others to add to the list, or have any questions, please share your thoughts on the comments section below.