Free Writer’s Workshop Wednesday: Literary Devices

We are back with another Writer’s Workshop! This will be the last installment until December as I’m going to take a break for NaNoWriMo, but I thought we dive into some pretty deep writing waters!

It’s time to take your writing to the next level, people. To go from just “okay”, to “pretty darn good” to maybe, one day “excellent.”

Enter: literary devices!

Now, there are plenty of literary devices, but I’m highlighting my favorites that can make the biggest impact in how your writing grows from bad to good to great.

Simile

A simile is a comparison using like or as. When writing, we use comparisons to give a description of something by comparing it to something else.

The man was as tall as a tree.
The ocean roared like a lion.
Her eyes sparkled like two stars.

These comparisons often give a better picture in the reader’s eyes, providing emphasis to certain traits, and help create things like tone and voice.

Metaphor

A metaphor is also a comparison, but instead of using like or as, you simple state something IS something else.

His anger was a raging dragon.
The house was his own personal prison.
Her warm smile was the spring, melting all his defenses away.

Metaphors are a great way of conveying emotions, feelings, thoughts, and images using comparisons that the reader can relate to. This brings some vitality into your writing and makes it beautiful!

Imagery

Imagery is my absolutely favorite. It’s the trick that brings writing to life by tapping into the five senses: sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste. Creating a scene by exploring most or all of the senses puts the reader in the world you are creating. (Plus, one of my favorite things in books is descriptions of food, and this falls under that category!)

As you write a scene, think about what your characters are not only seeing, but hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. Bring the scene to life!

Diction

You could also call this vocabulary, but diction is your word choice. What are the words you choose that best convey your message in a clear and active way?

Think of the word “walk.” Let’s say your trying to say your character walked slowly. Well, did he saunter? stroll? stumble? meander? shuffle?

All of those words have a slightly different meaning and give a different picture of your character. Choose the word that best shows what your character is doing.

Rhyme

If you’ve passed kindergarten, you know what rhyming is, but just in case, rhyming is the same ending sound repeated: “light” and “bright” This is a device often used in poetry and picture books because rhyming can be fun, interesting and engaging.

Rhyming can be used in prose to produce beauty and emphasis, but be very careful. When used foolishly, rhyming can sound “cutesy” or silly.

Alliteration

I’m not a huge fan of alliteration in my fiction writing, although it certainly has its place, but I love it for nonfiction. Alliteration is using the same starting sound repeated. For example:

“Life balance isn’t about being Pinterest Perfect; it’s about persistence and perseverance.”

Christ Wright

The repetition of the “p” sound emphasizes the idea and makes it stand out and memorable to the reader.

Personification

Personification is giving human characteristics to an nonhuman thing. This is another trick to create a world that your reader can live in and relate to.

A squashy armchair sat in the corner. (Sitting)
The city awoke and greeting the day. (waking and greeting)
A row of trees stood along the fence like a line of little soldiers. (stood, and bonus for simile!)

Personification brings the scene to life and makes the world the reader is vivid and tangible.

This is by no means a complete list, but try using these in your writing and watch how it improves!

Stay tuned for more in depth workshops on each literary device!

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