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?

Personification: Giving Inanimate Things Human Traits for a Purpose

image by AngieJohnston

What Personification Is

Personification is assigning human traits to inanimate objects, ideas, or phenomena. Inanimate means non-living things—breathless and pulseless. Personification is called anthropomorphism when it is applied to animals.

Common Examples of Personification


image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images

the sun kissed the ocean

the wise owl

justice is blind

the sun smiled down on them

stars winked

the city never sleeps

the hamburger was calling my name

the house sighed

Why Use Personification

  • Provides a fresh way to describe inanimate things.
  • Connects a reader with an inanimate entity so he understands what it means to the character or to the story.
  • Helps readers sympathize with or react emotionally to objects that become a character in a story.
  • Emphasizes an idea or mood.
  • Adds aesthetic qualities to the story.
  • Introduces meaning into mysterious things like forces of nature.
  • Helps to show a character’s positive or negative feelings toward an inanimate thing.
  • Adds poetic vividness to the writing.

How to Use Personification

♦ Decide if something nonhuman in your story warrants special attention. We expect a certain amount of description, but when it’s personified, it will pop out to the reader and stop him long enough to imagine the description.


The flooding waters swallowed the last bit of dry land.

Eric passed the house, the barn, and the pond that swallowed much of the yard and then entered the shed.

For Eric making his way to the shed in the second example, I think the personification of the pond adds little and slows the pace.

♦ Decide on the personification’s purpose.

◊ Is it to bring an inanimate thing to life as a character in the story? It will probably need more than one human trait.

A haunted house: For its twisted intent, the spiral staircase beckoned visitors to climb to the second story. 

The wind: The wind rushed the house again and again, then halted. It stood silent and still. I didn’t trust it, fearing it loomed outside my door with its saber raised high ready to slice through me when I made a mad dash to my truck.

image by PublicDomainPictures

◊ Does the nonhuman entity have meaning to the character—fondness, security, or hatred?

A constantly ringing phone that too often brings bad news: The haranguing desk phone demanded I answer it again. I’d had enough of its ranting. I pulled its lifeline from the wall and strangled it with the cord.


◊ Is it to help set the mood of the scene?

Oppressive heat and humidity: The sludgy air crawled around the corner of the house and pushed the mercury up inside our window thermometer to the bursting point.

◊ Or is it simply to add interest to description?

♦ Choose human traits or qualities that accomplish your purpose.

Use personification to give inanimate things human traits for a purpose in your story. Click to tweet.

How have you used personification in your stories?