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?

Malapropism: A Sneaky Soundalike in Writing—Humor or Error

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Malapropism is using a word that sounds similar to the right word the writer intended to use. The word comes from the French expression mal a propos, which means inappropriate.

Malapropism can be unintentional or intentional.

To add humor to a story, writers sometimes create characters who repeatedly use malapropisms. The best way to avoid accidental malapropisms is to consult your word processor’s thesaurus or dictionary often.

Below I list common unplanned malapropisms, and then for fun, I give some that could add humor to a character’s dialogue or personality.

Likely Unintentional Malapropisms

He clenched the deal. (clinched)

“Choose Agent Moss for the job. His photogenic memory will come in handy. (photographic)

Alice got the votes because of her great statue. (stature)

The pyramids have been unparalyzed in world history. (unparalleled)

“Supposively, I’m the next up for promotion.” (supposedly)

“Supposably, I have Lyme disease.” (supposedly)

For all intensive purposes, he was a blue-collar worker. (intents and)

She waved. “Au reservoir.” (au revoir)

I was saddened that so many children were illiteral. (illiterate)

“If you want to keep this job, you must be punctuate. (punctual)

Her ailment weekend her strength. (weakened)

Fortuitously, she brought in the garments on the clothesline before it rained. (fortunately)

He traveled the torturous road with its hairpin curves. (tortuous)

The job was sedimentary. (sedentary)

“Get things set up, and then we’ll precede with a practice run.” (proceed)

Once we add installation, heat won’t seep out. (insulation)

The clues didn’t jive with the crime. (jibe)

“Stop portending you’re someone you’re not.” (pretending)


Malapropisms Favorable to Adding Humor

image by stevepb

The mayor announced the flooding was too dangerous and called residents to evaporate the area. (evacuate)

“That man is under the affluence of alcohol.” (influence)

“I’m fine. I don’t need a blood transmission. (transfusion)

“We’ve got to eradicate weapons of mass production for people today and our predecessors. (destruction) (progeny)

“Watch out for that wolf in cheap clothing.” (sheep’s)

“The newspaper said he broke the law of monotony and had two families.” (monogamy)

“Quick. Bring the fire distinquisher. (extinguisher)

“No one is going to use me as an escape goat.” (scapegoat)

The drill sergeant was so tough that dysentery rose in the barracks. (dissension)

“I’m going to fatten you up. You look emancipated. (emaciated)

“Let’s celebrate the end of the physical year.” (fiscal)

She grasped the pendulum hanging from her neck. (pendant)

“Man, goldenrod and ragweed kill the sciences.” (sinuses)

Write sentences in the positive form. Avoid contraptions like won’t and can’t. (contractions)

“I’m telling you, an intruder is a pigment of your imagination. (figment)

“As they say, ‘a rolling stone gathers no moths.’” (moss)

“Don’t pay the ransom. The thugs will just hold someone else’s daughter hostile.” (hostage)

“Well, my son outweighs yours as a suppository of knowledge.” (depository)

The tantrum bicycle juddered and wobbled. (tandem)

Malapropisms in writing can embarrass authors or add humor to a character. Click to tweet.

What are malapropisms you’ve read or heard?