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?”

image by warner22brigette

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?

Diction: Choosing the Right Word for Your Character

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What Diction Is

Diction for fiction is the style of writing determined by a writer’s word choices. Words should

  • suit the story’s environment,
  • be appropriate to the writer’s audience, and
  • have meanings understood by readers.

Why Diction Is Important

  • The wrong word can take readers out of the story or cause them to misinterpret an intended message.
  • The right word can add to the story’s tone or mood.
  • Good word choices can show a character’s social status, background, education, where he’s from, and his personality.

Example:

Suppose the genre is “prairie” romance, which depicts life in the prairie states in the 1800s. The heroine is a common girl whose family moved west from West Virginia.

Karen attached the Arabian stallion to the buckboard, rending her satin sleeve. Oh great! One more task to do after dinner with a house full of lads gamboling in the cabin.

Analysis

The name Karen, one of the most popular names for girls born in the 1950s and 1960s, became common in English-speaking countries in the 1940s.

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Although General Ulysses S. Grant was given two Arabian stallions in 1877, they weren’t introduced to Americans until the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Common people couldn’t afford such a breed.

During the 1800s, most hardworking prairie women wore dresses made from calico or other lightweight material.

I consider the exclamation, Oh great! as a modern expression; it would’ve pulled me from the story.

Task is a good word, but chore refers to a household duty.

The word rending means to tear into two or more pieces. Tearing also means to make a cut, split, or hole in something.

Supper is less formal than dinner.

Lads is a British term.

The word gamboling may be unfamiliar to many readers. Some readers may think the lads were gambling.

image by almondbranch

Better Rewrite:

Bessie attached the mule to the buckboard, tearing her calico sleeve. Tarnation! One more chore for after supper with a cabin full of boys and their carryings-on.

 

 

Types of Diction    

  • Formal (presentations) “This evening’s banquet will be held in the ballroom. Formal attire please.”
  • Informal (every-day situations) “Dinner tonight will be at my house. Come casual.”
  • Colloquial (words particular to a country, area, city, or neighborhood) “Y’all come for supper. Sausage biscuits, gravy, and sweet tea. No need to gussie up.”
  • Slang (impolite or the latest fad words) “Eats at my digs. Later.”
  • Poetic versus prose (Any poets out there?)

Word choice also depends on whom the character addresses. He may speak differently to children, senior citizens, friends, bosses, spouses, parents, judges, pastors, and strangers.

Cautions for Diction

  • Changes in the style of word choices within the story can distract or confuse the reader.
  • When looking for a synonym to keep your writing fresh, be careful not to choose one that has a slightly different meaning than you intended.
  • Unless your character speaks in clichés, avoid these tired phrases.

Diction is a writer’s concern to make the best word choices for his works. Click to tweet.

Can you share a word or phrase that jarred you in a book you read?