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.”

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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?

A Foil in Fiction: Emphasizes the Protagonist’s Qualities

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In fiction, a foil is usually a secondary character whose traits contrast or oppose qualities of the protagonist. The foil is created to highlight certain characteristics of the protagonist.

image by johnhain
  • Foils and protagonists aren’t necessarily opposites. The foil could be like the protagonist with one important difference.
  • A foil character may be a good person who emphasizes the protagonist’s flaws or a bad person who makes the main character seem extraordinary.
  • A protagonist may have multiple foils.
  • The foil character is usually not the antagonist

Foil Versus Antagonist

A foil could be a best friend or a sidekick whose opposing traits to the protagonist, by contrast, make certain protagonist qualities stand out. The antagonist’s purpose is to stop the protagonist from achieving his goals.

The foils purpose is to bring out traits in the protagonist that make him an interesting and complex person. The antagonist could be a foil but not merely because he fights the protagonist.


image by skeeze

The protagonist and foil may work together, such as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. For example, Dr. Watson’s opposing traits make Sherlock appear more astute and impersonal.

The “good cop-bad cop” behaviors of detectives, parents, and business partners are often given to a protagonist and an important secondary character.

Here’s my attempt at showing Billy as Trevor’s foil.

    Billy huffed and bumbled along as Trevor raced ahead to the car smashed against a tree, its hood crumpled like an accordion.
    When Billy caught up, Trevor had the unconscious driver out of the car and was ending a call with a 911 operator.
    Billy peered inside the front and back seats of the sedan. “His wallet’s on the floor.”
    Trevor lifted his head from the man’s chest. “He’s alive, thank God. Bring his wallet.”
    Billy carried a fat wallet with an abundance of green protruding from inside. His eyes were wide and focused on the wad of bills. He licked his lips. “Who carries this much cash these days?”
      “Does he have a driver’s license?”
    “Yeah.” Billy slipped the plastic license from a slot above several credit cards. “If only my wallet contained a quarter of what this guy has. With that kind of money, I could gain some respect from women.
    “Billy, his name. What’s his name?”
    “Edward Freeman.”
    Trevor touched the man’s cheek. “Mr. Freeman, can you hear me?” He glanced at Billy. “What are you doing?”
    Billy sifted two hundred-dollar bills between his thumb and fingers. “With all the dough this guy has, he’d never miss these two Franklins.
    “Put them back, Billy.”

As all secondary characters should, Billy does his job. He fleshes out Trevor’s character, moves the story along, and gives Trevor someone to talk to instead of Trevor constantly reflecting internally. Billy’s opposing qualities quickly highlight Trevor’s efficiency, caring nature, and honesty.

Other Benefits of a Foil

Foils’ choices and consequences opposite to those of the protagonist can demonstrate what could have happened if the protagonist had made the foil’s choices.

The foil’s opposing traits can create deeper emotions for how the reader feels about the protagonist.

Foils can help form how the reader feels about the protagonist. Click to tweet.

What example of a foil comes to your mind?