Come Play a Game About Literary Devices!

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I’ve finished a series on literary devices. (One is more a problem than a supportive device.) As a review, I list the devices, definition hints, and the sentence number(s) of where they show up in my scene below. I invite you to ignore my answers and try to spot the examples(s) for each device. If you want to know more about a device, click on the device’s name to go to my post about it.

Literary Device

Hint

Sentence #

Allusion

a passing reference

3

Amplification

add more information

14

Aphorism

true, short, and witty

45

Asyndeton

omission of conjunctions

11

Authorial Intrusion

author seeks relationship

11

Circumlocution

express in roundabout way

54-60

Diction

word choices

14, 15, 28, 46

Euphemism

less offensive expression

33

Faulty Parallelism

rebel in a series

22

Foil

opposing traits to protagonist

Sam

Foreshadowing

“clue” to the future

1

Hyperbaton

sentence order transposed

 29, 31

Imagery

creates strong mental pictures

10

Malapropism

sneaky lookalike

15, 18

Metonymy (Synecdoche)

things called by another name

4, 12

Personification

give things human traits

26

Symbolism

imbue things with deeper meaning

49

1Sam leaned against the bus stop pole and slid a piece of paper into his pocket. 2“Here comes Jocelyn. 3Time to don my Superman cape.” 4He flexed his pecs, expanding his T-shirt sporting the word STUD.

5On the bench, Grayson didn’t move. 6No way would he check behind him and let Sam blast him with another “gotcha,” especially when it had to do with Jocelyn.

7Sam’s eyes lit up and he turned on his I’m-your-man smile.

8The guy was telling the truth.

9Grayson turned his head until he could sneak a glance at Jocelyn. 10Her brunette ponytail swished as her pink tennis shoes slapped the sidewalk’s incline. 11You know the type, young, pretty, a fresh look of innocence. 12Grayson’s pumper skipped a beat.

13“I don’t think the cape’s going to help,” he said. “14In case you haven’t noticed, we’re loitering at a bus stop.”

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15 “Is your point that bus stops are for suave octogonians to pick up old women with oxygen tanks? Not for macho guys like me?”

16Grayson rolled his eyes then checked Jocelyn’s progress toward them. 17“For once, can you act normal?”

18“I’m no wolf in cheap clothing. 19I can’t help it I’m a friendly”—he pointed at the word on his shirt—“stud.”

20Had Jocelyn read his note? 21Grayson wiped the sweat beading his forehead. 22She didn’t look particularly happy, bummed, or had a frightened expression. 23Why had he asked her out in a note? 24How lame was that?

25“Hi, guys.” Jocelyn flashed them her full-lipped smile. See nodded at the bus stop sign. 26“Sam, is your clunker Camaro sick?”

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27“Clunker? 28Honey, that ride is a classic in her prime.”

29“So you say.” 30She turned to Grayson.

31Here it came. 32He braced for the shoot-down.

33I heard your dog passed away, Grayson. 34I’m sorry.”

35So was he, but what about the note? 36The date?

37Sam tugged out the piece of paper he’d pocketed.

38Grayson did a double take. 39That was the paper he’d scrawled his dumb note on. 40Sam had taken it off Jocelyn’s door? 41The slimeball. 42But wait. 43She hadn’t seen it. 44He let out a breath. 45Sometimes a buddy in greed was buddy indeed.

46“Well, lookie here.” 47Sam dangled the paper.

48Grayson stood, blood draining from his head. “Sam!” 49He eyed the note threatening his doom. 50Don’t. 51I mean it.”

52Jocelyn’s forehead wrinkled as Sam laughed.

53Sam waved the paper. “54I decided to ask you out, but when I got to your house what should I see on your door? 55It wasn’t a foreclosure notice. 56No. 57It wasn’t a bill collector’s letter. 58No. 59It wasn’t an offer for low-cost Internet service. 60N—“

61Grayson lunged and grabbed for the note. 62Sam yanked it out of his reach, guffawing. “63No, it was a note from Grayson asking you out. 64How uncool is that?”

65Jocelyn stared at Sam then turned to Grayson. 66“Sounds sweet to me.”

 See if you can spot seventeen literary devices in a short scene. Click to tweet.

What is your favorite literary device? Why?

Asyndeton & Polysyndeton in Story: Conjunctions, More & Less

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First, let’s look at syndeton and the examples we’re most familiar with.

Syndeton

Syndeton is the coordination of elements in a sentence, generally with a conjunction, such as and, or, but, for, nor, so, yet. The conjunctions can be used between words, phrases, and clauses.

Examples

  1. Anna could marry Lee or Doug.
  2. She could marry Lee, or she could wait for someone she loved.
  3. She received marriage offers  from Paul, Lee, and Doug.
  4. She’d gather information from recommendations, in interviews, and on one date.
  5. I came, I saw, and I conquered.

We’ll see how example 5 (Julius Caesar’s asyndetic quote) sounds in the three cases. Using the ending comma before the conjunction is up to you or your publisher’s preference.

Asyndeton

Asyndeton is the absence or omission of conjunctions between the parts of a sentence requiring coordination.

Examples

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1. In quick succession, he looked surprised, puzzled, aware, euphoric.

2. I’m the best candidate—I’m a woman, I know what’s right, I can make progress happen.

3. She told me the materials needed were paper, paints, glue, a ruler, …

4. I will love you today, tomorrow, forever.

5. I came, I saw, I conquered.

 

The Importance of Asyndeton

Asyndeton is usually used to speed up a passage, emphasize the relations among the listed elements, and drive a reader toward a conclusion. It can give a sense that the list of similar elements has been left unfinished, i.e. there’s more, or the speaker has forgotten the rest as in example 3. Its style can make the sentence pop and be more easily remembered as in example 5.

Polysyndeton

Polysyndeton is the repeated use of the same conjunction, which is sometimes unnecessary.

Examples

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1. You can choose pudding or cake or pie or bed.

2. Visitors to the museum will find historical clothes and furniture and weapons.

3. A successful romance involves understanding the differences between men and women and filling the story with conflict and presenting a happy ending.

4. The job entailed dusting all surfaces and vacuuming the garage and ironing sheets and polishing the silver and washing windows. No wonder she didn’t take the job.

5. I came and I saw and I conquered.

The Importance of Polysyndeton

Polysyndeton slows the rhythm of the passage. Although it can make a sentence or paragraph painstaking to read, it works well when the passage is about something that’s tiresome as in example 4. Polysyndeton can give the sense of meticulousness.

Another Example

From this passage in the Bible, Philippians 4:8-9 (New International Version), the Apostle Paul gives an example of asyndeton and one of polysyndeton.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Asyndeton & polysyndeton in your use of conjunctions could interest readers. Click to tweet.

Why have you veered from syndeton and used asyndeton or polysyndeton?