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


Sentence #


a passing reference



add more information



true, short, and witty



omission of conjunctions


Authorial Intrusion

author seeks relationship



express in roundabout way



word choices

14, 15, 28, 46


less offensive expression


Faulty Parallelism

rebel in a series



opposing traits to protagonist



“clue” to the future



sentence order transposed

 29, 31


creates strong mental pictures



sneaky lookalike

15, 18

Metonymy (Synecdoche)

things called by another name

4, 12


give things human traits



imbue things with deeper meaning


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.”

image by Yummymoon

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?

Circumlocution – Bore Readers with Overkill, or Not?

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Writing that expresses something in a roundabout or indirect way, using many unnecessary words.

Circumlocution can be understandable or unintelligible.


A large portion of the class grabbed a goodly number of the assignments, far and beyond what they should have, in view of the fact that some of the students hadn’t been afforded the opportunity to look at the list.

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A Rewrite

Much of the class grabbed many of the assignments, more than they should have, because some students hadn’t been permitted to view the list.



Common Circumlocution

Circumlocution is usually amateur writing. Sometimes a writer can’t think of the word for a thing, event, or action. So, he describes it. Or, he writes in clichés. Other times, he may use wordiness when he wants to avoid a word that might be offensive, thus he uses a euphemism, e.g. in the family way instead of pregnant.

The wordiness in unplanned circumlocution should be edited.

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Crafted Circumlocution

A writer or his character wants to:

avoid revealing his true intentions (talk in circles).

evade his position on an issue or sound honest (politicians).

avoid answering a question.

manipulate his audience’s perceptions.

change the topic.

add poetic flowery.

insert humor.

sell a product or idea.

talk in a roundabout way (overly polite or submissive).

use innuendo to get what he wants.

make an indirect insult.

appear intelligent or grandiose.

keep a conversation going when he doesn’t know what to say but doesn’t want to loose his audience.

stall someone.

image by geralt

Common Phrases Used in Circumlocution

a large portion of (much of)

a goodly number (many)

at this point in time (at this time) (now)

in the not-too-distant future (soon)

in the vicinity of (near)

put in an appearance (appear)

took into consideration (consider)

made a statement saying (said, stated)

far and beyond (more)

must have without fail (need)

until such time as (until)

afforded an opportunity for (permit)

in reference to (about)

with the exception of (except)

in a timely fashion (quickly)

in spite of (notwithstanding) the fact that (although)

due to (in light of, in view of) the fact that (because)

on the grounds that (because)

in the event of (if)

was in possession of (had)

the manner in which (how)

I am going to (I will)

in my humble opinion, I think (I think)


“Mayor, why are you closing down the community senior center?”
“We’re always looking for ways to do good things for our community. Look at the manner in which we refurbished our parks in a timely fashion for children all over town. We support how certain theaters have cut the cost for senior citizen discounts. (evade his position)

“The manner in which you react to students is amazing not withstanding the number of people who have switched to other classes.” (indirect insult)

“I’m in possession of a number of books on writing, and I’m going to take into consideration sharing them with people who like me and I them.” (manipulate audience’s perception or poor writing)

Do you weary readers with or craft circumlocution for a purpose? Click to tweet.

Can you rewrite the circumlocution examples, cutting their words by at least a third?

Euphemism: Toning Down What You Write

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What a Euphemism Is 


  • The word euphemism comes from a Greek word meaning sounding good.
  • A euphemism is a literary device in which the writer substitutes a softer, less offensive expression for a person, place, thing, or event. The word may sound more polite, but it gets the message across.


Common Examples of Euphemism 


  • Died ⇒ passed away, departed, bought the farm
  • Prison ⇒ correctional facility
  • Pregnant ⇒ in the family way
  • Fired ⇒ let go
  • Firing employees  downsizing, staff being realigned
  • Obese ⇒ stout, plump, portly
  • Unemployed ⇒ between jobs
  • Garbage man ⇒ sanitation engineer
  • Poor  working class, economically disadvantaged
  • Broke  negative cash flow
  • Lie  put a spin on the truth
  • image by OpenClipart-Vector-images
    Drunk  had a few
  • Body odor ⇒ manly scent, B.O.
  • Bald ⇒ thin on top
  • Blunder  faux pas
  • Before I die  before I go
  • Sweat  perspiration, misting
  • Genocide  ethnic cleansing
  • Used car  pre-enjoyed vehicle



Why Use Euphemisms


  • Writers employ euphemisms in dialogue if a character doesn’t want to be considered insensitive, prejudiced, or unkind. For example, a character might say in a meeting, “It’s not my fault the Dugan family lives in substandard housing.” However, he says to his wife, “How do people like the Dugans cause themselves to live in such a slum?”
  • A character may use euphemisms to escape responsibility for something. For example, when innocent people are killed, he may call this collateral damage.
  • Euphemisms sometimes help paint the period of the story. For example, using powder room for toilet instead of the more current restroom.
  • image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images
    They are often used to tone down profanity.
  • Writers use euphemisms to write figuratively about taboo issues. Possibly replace euthanize with put to sleep.
  • Euphemisms can add humor or hint at the ridiculous. For example, when a father asks why his teenage son was fired, the son says, “I was told I was partially proficient and the company’s staff was being re-engineered during a time when they’re dealing with under-performing assets.”


Euphemisms soften offensive expressions while getting the point across. Click to tweet.

When has one of your characters used a euphemism that helped define the character’s personality?