Tag: novel

A Comprehensive Look At Literary Devices

As a writer, it becomes a necessity at some point or the other, to understand as many technicalities of the craft as possible. Whether you’re an intuitive writer or a deliberate one, there will be times when you’ll have to break the literary rules in order to create your masterpiece, but in order to do so, you first need to know what those rules are. So studying literary devices becomes essential and significant in order to become a better writer.

On the other hand, it is not only beneficial to know about literary devices as a writer, but also as a reader. As a reader, it will help you understand the purpose of the writing better and also to know the real focus of a particular written work. And, on a more practical note, it’ll help you write your school reports and book analysis or reviews better and score good grades (I’m sure that alone should be motivation enough.)

I have come to realise that it is a healthy practice to become a well-informed writer as well as a reader.

A Comprehensive Look At Literary Devices

 

 

 

The definition of a literary device on Your Dictionary, an online open dictionary source, is as a technique a writer uses to produce a special effect in their writing.

This definition is short and sweet but leaves a lot of unanswered questions in one’s mind. In order to fully understand the ocean of things hidden behind these two words, one needs to look at it very closely. So here’s my take on these two very beautiful words:

Literary devices are the techniques a writer uses in order to create a unique and powerful yet appropriate effect in their writing to help them influence the reader’s imagination while at the same time helping the reader to understand the writing effectively and on a much deeper level. It adds multiple layers of sense, feelings and emotions to the reader’s imagination and helps the writer in gripping the reader’s conception of their work in a very effective way.

To further understand literary devices better, they can be broken down into two parts:

1. Literary elements

Literary elements are elements used by the writer in the overall scheme of the things. Some of the main literary elements are:

  • Antagonist – a character, or a group of characters, which stands in opposition to the protagonist, which is the main character.
  • Characters – any person, animal, or figure represented in a literary work. There are many types of characters that exist in literature, each with its own development and function.
  • Conflict – A conflict in literature is defined as any struggle between opposing forces. Usually, the main character struggles against some other force. This type of conflict is what drives each and every story.
  • Dialogues – a technique in which writers employ two or more characters to be engaged in conversation with one another.
  • Mood – a literary element that evokes certain feelings or vibes in readers through words and descriptions. Usually, mood is referred to as the atmosphere of a literary piece, as it creates an emotional setting that surrounds the readers.
  • Moral – a message conveyed by, or a lesson learned from the story.
  • Narrative – a report of related events presented to listeners or readers, in words arranged in a logical sequence. A story is taken as a synonym of narrative. A narrative, or story, is told by a narrator who may be a direct part of that experience, and he or she often shares the experience as a first-person narrator.
  • Plot – literary term used to describe the events that make up a story, or the main part of a story. These events relate to each other in a pattern or a sequence. The structure of a novel depends on the organization of events in the plot of the story.
  • Point Of Views – he mode of narration that an author employs to let the readers “hear” and “see” what takes place in a story, poem, or essay.
  • Protagonist – the central character or leading figure in poetry, narrative, novel or any other story. A protagonist is sometimes a “hero” to the audience or readers.
  • Setting – the time and place in which the story takes place. The definition of setting can also include social statuses, weather, historical period, and details about immediate surroundings.
  • Structure – the arrangement of story elements according to purpose, style and genre.
  • Theme – the central topic or idea explored in a text.

2. Literary techniques

Literary techniques are the words or phases employed by the writers in their writing. Some fo the main literary techniques are:

  • Allegory – use of characters and events in a story to represent or deliver a broader message.
  • Alliteration – a series of words or phrases that all (or almost all) start with the same sound.
  • Allusion – an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference.
  • Anachronism – the action of attributing something to a period to which it does not belong.
  • Analogy – a comparison between one thing and another, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification.
  • Antithesis – explaining an idea or thing by comparing it to something that is familiar.
  • Colloquialism – use of informal words, phrases, or even slang in a piece of writing.
  • Consonance – the recurrence of similar-sounding consonants in close proximity, especially in prosody.
  • Diction – the style of speaking that a writer, speaker, or character uses.
  • Epigraph – a short quotation or saying at the beginning of a book or chapter, intended to suggest its theme.
  • Euphemism – a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.
  • Flashbacks – a scene set in a time earlier than the main story.
  • Foreshadowing – a warning or indication of (a future event).
  • Hyperbole – exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.
  • Irony – the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.
  • Imagery – use of language and description that appeals to our five senses.
  • Implied Metaphors – a word or phrase that compares two unlike things to more clearly describe them, without mentioning one of the things.
  • Juxtaposition – the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect.
  • Malapropism – the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with an amusing effect.
  • Metaphor – a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.
  • Metonym – a word, name, or expression used as a substitute for something else with which it is closely associated. For example, Washington is a metonym for the US government.
  • Onomatopoeia – the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named.
  • Oration – elaborate and dignified speech.
  • Oxymorons – a figure of speech in which two opposite ideas are joined to create an effect.
  • Paradox – a statement or proposition which, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems logically unacceptable or self-contradictory.
  • Personification – giving human traits and qualities, such as emotions, desires, sensations, gestures and speech, often by way of a metaphor, to things.
  • Repetition – the recurrence of an action or event.
  • Similes – a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid
  • Soliloquy – an act of speaking one’s thoughts aloud when by oneself or regardless of any hearers, especially by a character in a play.
  • Symbolism – using symbolic images and indirect suggestion to express mystical ideas, emotions, and states of mind.
  • Synecdoche – a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole or vice versa.

So this is the in and out on literary devices. There are a lot more literary elements and techniques but the ones listed here are the main ones so they would be enough if you just want to know literary devices on the surface. But if you want to dig deeper, I’ll be writing another article in future exploring these and many other literary elements and techniques in detail.

If you are a new writer, or an established one stuck in a rut looking for inspiration, do read these articles:

Articles from Literary Devices and Stydy.com were of great help in finding the definitions for various literary devices for this article.

The 4-Act-Structure: Introduction

 

As almost all the plotters would swear by, outlining a story helps a writer greatly in making sense of the story for the readers. We, as writers, know what our story is and how it plays out, the difficult bit is to put in into words in a systematic way and have it make sense to its readers the same way that it does for us. And this is where the story structures come into play.

I used to consider myself a hardcore plotter until I finally realised that I’m more of an intuitive person who writes by the seat of her pants as much as I rely on planning my stories. So now I try to find a balance between pantsing and plotting. And I personally see story structures as an adventurer’s maps – you can have all the adventures you want to have by following your intuition, but occasionally you need the maps to take you where you want to go, especially when you get lost or stuck.

I used the 3-Act Structure for plotting my first novel, Deceived, but for my second and third manuscripts, I needed something more extensive as they are more complex than my earlier work, so I used the 4 Act Structure. In this article, I’ll be introducing the 4-Act Structure and its benefits and use. If you wish to know more about the 3-Act Structure then you can read the following articles I wrote a while ago:


The 4-Act-Structure: Introduction

the 4-act structure

What is the 4-Act Structure?

The 4-Act Structure is basically the broader version of the 3 Act Structure in which the elaborate ‘middle’ is broken into two separate acts. This method is very popular among writers especially those who write lengthy novels and the ones who struggle with the ‘infinite middle.’

  • Act-1: Setup of conflict
  • Act-2: Build-up
  • Act-3: Crises
  • Act-4: Resolution

Here’s a simple diagram to depict the 4-Act Structure:

This image is subject to copyright.

What are the advantages of using the 4-Act Structure?

There are many advantages to using the 4-act structure, just like any other outlining tool:

  1. It helps in dealing with the overall story better, in an organized manner (just like any other story structure.)
  2. It assists in specifically dealing with the problematic middle of the story – the 75% part of the story that is a bit vaguely structured in the 3-act structure of story writing.
  3. It encourages in figuring out the problems with the story plot and in combing out the plot holes that would inevitably make your story weak.
  4. It helps in understanding what exactly your story is lacking in order to make it into a near-perfect manuscript.
  5. It even aids in recognizing, and then getting rid of, the redundant scenes, side stories and subplots.
  6. It greatly helps in dealing with the most coveted enemy of any writer – writer’s block, when you get stuck in the inescapable limbo.
  7. It also serves, for many writers, as a quick fix to complete the drafts within a particular timeline. It’s not necessarily a short cut, but can definitely be viewed as an answer to many plot-progression related problems.

When should the 3-Sct Structure be used? Before starting the first draft, in between or at the of the nth draft?

Over the course of the last couple of years, I’ve discovered the hard way that it’s always best to first write the first draft by the seat of your pants, no matter if you consider yourself a planner or a pantster, because the first draft has to be as unadulterated and pure as can be, and that would be possible only if you let your imagination take over your mind and the muse and instinct guide your hands. The story structure, whether it is a 3-act structure or the 4-act structure or even the 9-act structure, should be applied for the first time to the first draft once it is complete. Then as you progress, it depends on how often you want to adjust your story according to the structure; you can do it while you write or revise your drafts or before or after that. It is entirely up to you.

I have come to realise that if the story structures are applied to the story in the initial stage of the conceiving of the plot, before or right after beginning the first draft (which is far too complex and difficult than one might think) then it corrupts the authenticity of the plot that otherwise might have been and makes it feel constrained. And such writing often results in an amateurish end product.

If you want a simpler story structure for your story, then read this: The 3-Act Structure: In Detail


If you are suffering from a writer’s block or are facing difficulty in getting ahead with your story, here are some articles I recommend:

The 3-Act Structure: Introduction

“You can’t plow a field simply by turning it over in your mind.”
― Gordon B. Hinckley

Planning a novel is the most important aspect of creating one. Even if you’re a pantster, at some or the other point, you’ll realise the need to arrange the novel in an order which will ensure that the novel is structured properly.

Organising everything from comes as second nature to planners, but it becomes a headache for pantsters and the writers who are new to the craft who find it a little overwhelming at times to keep a track of the basic plotline of their novel while writing it.

There are many ways in which one can plan a novel. The most basic way to plan your novel is to use the 3-Act Structure, a modified and evolved version of Aristotle’s way of writing tragedy. In this post, I’ll be introducing the 3-Act Structure along with its benefits and uses. In order to read the 3-Act Structure in detail, please read this: The 3-Act Structure: In Detail


The 3-Act Structure: Introduction

What is the 3-Act Structure?

The 3-Act Structure is a system of dividing a novel into three broad sections: 25%-50%-25%, where each of the three acts has some specific plot or story moves. This is the most basic type of story structure and can be seen or identified in almost any story ever written.

Because of this basic nature of the 3-Act Structure, a lot of writers feel that this structure is too thin to be used for structuring elaborate novels because of having a lengthy and complex middle portion. And I agree with them. But I also feel that for writers who are not into plotting heavily or who are just starting out, this is the best way to get acquainted with the otherwise infinite ocean of story plotting. I used this structure to plot my first novel, Deceived, and it served me well. There is a lot to this structure than meets the eye and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is new to either story plotting or writing itself.

On the surface, this structure is in line with Aristotle’s way of writing, having a beginning, a middle and an ending:

  • Act-1: Beginning
  • Act-2: Middle
  • Act-3: End

But, where all the novels have these three parts, there are also various other components to them in terms of the plot moves. So when the evolved version of Aristotle’s structure of writing tragedy looks like this:

  • Act-1: Introductions and Conflict
  • Act-2: Complication and Destruction
  • Act-3: Resolution

Here’s a simple diagram to depict the 3-Act Structure:

1
This image is subject to copyright.

What are the advantages of using the 3-Act Structure?

Using a pre-designed and a very basic structure to create a novel is always advisable as it helps in laying a strong foundation of your novel. Some of the advantages of using this structure are:

  1. It’s quite simple to comprehend and equally easy to apply.
  2. It makes sure that the basics of your novel remain in place and don’t get lost in the entirety of your project.
  3. It helps you to understand the missing pieces from your novel.
  4. It also makes you realise if and when you have unnecessary or extra scenes that you’re trying to incorporate in your novel.
  5. It helps you to organise your novel in a much better and clear way.
  6. It helps you to make your novel a better and a more polished version of the otherwise messy and haywire one.
  7. And more often than not, especially when you feel like you’ve run out of things/scenes to write, this method will definitely give you a gentle push to write more and will often fill your head with new ideas.

When should the 3-Sct Structure be used? Before starting the first draft, in between or at the of the nth draft?

The 3-Act Structure, or any structure for that matter, can be used at any point in your writing journey but I would advise to use it after you finish with the first draft. It will help you in understanding the plot holes and give you the much-needed direction in order to proceed with your next draft. If you really want to use this in building up your manuscript then keep adjusting all your drafts as per this structure (or any other structure that you are using) as the end of each draft as it’ll help your story remain in line.

If you want to know the details of this structure then read this: The 3-Act Structure: In Detail

If you feel like this is not for you then read about other story structures: The 4-Act-Structure: Introduction


If you are suffering from a writer’s block or are facing difficulty in getting ahead with your story, here are some articles I recommend: