Amplification: Embellish What You Just Wrote With More Information

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What Amplification Is

Amplification is a literary device. Suppose you write a statement, but it doesn’t give the reader enough information to fully understand it or see the full impact of the object, idea, or event. So, you add information to further explain it or to emphasize it. You are using amplification.

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Example

    Jeannie entered her apartment. Callie’s brother, lay on the sofa. What was her roommate’s brother doing—besides sleeping—in their apartment?
    She crossed her arms over her ribcage. “Ahem.”
    Justin’s eyes opened, and he looked around, confused. He turned his head toward her and startled.
     “Why are you here, Justin.” 
     “I’m sick. My temperature is up to 102 degrees, I have a sore throat, and my head is pounding. Callie went to the drugstore to get me some meds.”

The sentence in italics is an example of amplification. Justin and the author wanted Jeannie to realize how sick he is to justify his presence in the girls’ apartment.

Why Amplification Is Important

Amplification works well to:

  • reinforce a point.
  • highlight something important.
  • elicit emotion from the reader.
  • persuade why an idea should be considered.
  • make an object or an idea more vivid to the reader.
  • increase the reader’s understanding about something.
  • supplement an initial abrupt sentence.

More Examples

 

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1. Original Sentence: I stuck my head inside the opening in the stone face that stretched from the ground to my shoulders. The bat cave was a horror house inside.

The reader struggles to imagine what was going on in a bat “horror house.” The reader needs more information and description.

Rewrite: I stuck my head inside the opening in the stone face that stretched from the ground to my shoulders. The bat cave was a horror house inside. Black rodents with collapsed wings hung from every ridge in the stone ceiling. Flying bats dive-bombed two cats. The gray cat swiped a bat from the air. I jumped out of its way as it slinked outside with its squirming prey between its teeth. The biggest bat I’d ever seen swooped down and sunk its claws into the black cat’s coat. The cat screeched, performed three wrangling flips, and raced into the sunlight, the bat riding the cat as if it were a bucking bronco.

2. The 24-foot, food-laden table was the showpiece that—with its clawed feet, its massive armed chairs, and its purple brocade tablecloth presenting gold-rimmed china and crystal goblets filled with a red beverage—looked like a cross between a king’s feast and Dracula’s repast for vampires.

Use amplification to emphasize or add information to what you just stated. Click to tweet.

What reasons do you, or might you, use amplification?

Symbolism: Give Something in Your Story a Deeper and Wider Meaning

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What Symbolism Is

As a literary device, symbolism gives an object a dual meaning. It imbues the object with ideas or qualities that are profound, far-reaching, and different from the object’s actual physical meaning.

Symbolism can enrich, provide a better understanding of the story, and show it has broader implications than itself.

A common example is a dove symbolizing peace.

Creating Symbolism in a Story

1.

Suppose Camellia wants to know who she is. She carries in her handbag the letter from her deceased grandmother, which reveals her parents’ names. She rereads the letter whenever she becomes discouraged in her search for her parents.

The letter becomes a symbol for the truth of her origin. It has profound meaning to Camellia. It also ties together the people she’ll interview and touch in some way during her search. It’s no longer only a letter.

2. 

You can have an object appear several times in your story to associate an emotion or mood. In my romance, Calculated Risk, sticky notes symbolize Cisney’s way of trying to manage chaos in her life.

One example is when she’s heard bad news and wants to leave Nick’s house. She writes the bus’s departure time on a sticky note and adheres it to her cell phone. Most people would’ve used Notes or some other reminder app in their cell.

Creating Symbolism in Context

A story symbol will be understood in the context of how you set it up. You may have an apple show up in scenes to symbolize knowledge.

For ages, people have associated an apple with the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden that, when eaten, revealed the knowledge of good and evil. For me, an apple left on a teacher’s desk or the apples on Apple devices also symbolize knowledge.

Or an apple in your story could symbolize a favored one as it did in the Old Testament when someone was “the apple of his eye.”

Attaching Symbolism to Something Other Than Objects

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Sometimes an action or an event can symbolize something. For example, saying, “I knew your Aunt Louise,” could let a fellow spy know others are safe to receive messages of national importance. In New Testament times when Christians were thrown to the lions, Christians drew a simple fish in the dust to subtly reveal they were Christians. These two actions symbolize revealing safe people.

Receiving Aid from Other Literary Devices

Other literary devices, such as a metaphors, similes, allegories, and allusions, can help create symbolism.

  • When a symbol has something in common with an idea or quality, a metaphor or simile can show this. Suppose Alec shudders every time he passes the roller coaster at the fair. Symbolism: The author has Alec pass the roller coaster when bad or good events happen in his life. Life is (or is like) a roller coaster. Both have ups and downs.
  • When Jesus’ parable of a prodigal son symbolizes a character’s life, this uses an allegory, or, if someone in the story mentions the character’s life is like the Prodigal Son’s, he employs an allusion.

Use symbolism to give your reader a better understanding of your story. Click to tweet.

What symbolism have you noticed in a story?

Imagery: Create Strong Mental Pictures for Your Reader

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What Imagery Is

Imagery is one of the strongest literary devices. A writer uses words and phrases to fashion mental images for readers. Imagery helps the reader to visualize more realistically objects, actions, and ideas. Imagery’s descriptive words can also involve the reader in the emotions and sensations of characters. The device appeals to our five senses to better imagine the world.

Often, imagery is built on other literary devices, such as metaphors, similes allusions, personifications, and onomatopoeia (words created to imitate sounds).

Let’s look at before-and-after examples.

Before:

“In case you didn’t know, Amy’s having an affair,” Grant said.

Sam looked shocked.

Grant way sorry for what he’d said erroneously in anger.

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After:

Grant whirled around. “In case you didn’t know, Amy’s having an affair.”

Sam’s body reeled as if hunks of his world, his trust, hopes, and every emotion he held for Amy, were crashing to the garage’s concrete floor and shattering into unrecognizable shards.

Grant’s calf muscle’s tightened and begged to bolt. What had he done? He stepped back, his ankle striking a sharp edge of the lawn mower. Pain shot up his leg. Good. He deserved to hurt. How could he ever forgive himself for his Jezebel spirit toward his friend in the heat of a senseless argument? Especially, since what he’d said wasn’t true.

Hopefully the “after” example paints better images of both men, their surroundings, and their reactions.

Analysis:

  • Whirled is a descriptive verb for what some one would do when angry.
  • The description of Sam’s world falling apart is a simile.
  • Grant’s calf muscles begging to bolt is a personification.
  • Everyone knows the pain of knocking their ankle against something sharp (sense of touch).
  • Jezebel spirit is an allusion. This strong image references the evil of Jezebel in the Bible. Among many other traits, she lies, catches people off guard, and is vengeful.
  • Showing what’s going on inside Grant’s head allows the reader to share in the sensation of shock at what Grant did to Sam.

Why Imagery Is Important

Imagery helps the reader to envision the characters and scenes clearly. It makes the scene more vivid to the reader, replacing telling with graphic showing. It can also give prose a certain beauty and change clichéd writing into something fresh. Imagery can create the desired mood for a scene.

More Examples:

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Before:

I heard the bacon in the frying pan, and it smelled great.

After:

The bacon popped and crackled in Dad’s frying pan, and oh, the aroma. My mouth watered. 

<<>>

 


Before:

The concert was loud.

After:

The deafening concert had my ears ringing for days.

 <<>>

image by OpenClipart-Vectors

Before:

He continued toward the castle in the early evening when the full moon was up.

After:

Soon after dusk, the wind picked up, and the waving pine boughs beckoned him to continue toward the castle silhouetted against the moon, the gold medallion commandeering a third of the sky.

Use imagery to give your reader vivid pictures that bring them into your story. Click to tweet.

When do you create imagery—as you write or when you edit?