Literary devices are tools and techniques employed by authors to communicate effectively with their audiences. Skilled use of literary devices brings richness and clarity to a text. So, what exactly are these tools and how may the techniques be used to make the most of storytelling?
Alliteration is using a sequence of words with the same initial sound. The words can be next to one another or be spaced out. It is simply a matter of repeating the beginning sounds of words, in order to focus attention or convey an idea or emotion.
By using alliteration, the author focuses the reader’s attention on a particular section of text, by creating rhythm and by giving a particular connotation. For example, repetition of an “s” may suggest a snake-like quality, which is used to imply slyness, and an “h” may have a soft, soothing effect.
Irony lies in a difference between what is expected and what actually occurs. It is a technique used by authors to make their audiences stop and think, or used to emphasize a main idea. A typical example of irony may be found in a story about a man who intends to surprise his new love with a bunch of flowers, only to discover that she is actually the owner of the florist where he goes to buy the flowers! Authors can make use of irony to express emotion, set moods, and evoke a response from the audience.
Metaphor is a technique used by which a direct comparison is made between two things that one would not usually compare with each other. They create vivid descriptions with only a few words because the subject of the comparison takes on the qualities of the object with which it is compared. This effect can be achieved in storytelling, simply be comparing two things that are dissimilar without using the words “like” or “as”. For example, one may say “The world is a stage”, thus using theatre as a metaphor for life. Alternatively, the reader infers a comparison. An example of this use of metaphor is “The thorn bush had sharp claws”.
Personification is a technique that gives human qualities to objects or to animals. Personification may help an audience understand or sympathize with non-human characters. An example of personification would be “The dog danced when he saw his owner.” A phrase like this establishes mood and builds imagery in a piece of writing.
Simile is a technique by which two unlike entities are being compared by using the words “like” and “as”. The purpose of the simile is to give information about one object that is unknown by the audience by comparing it to something that is well known. This technique helps the audience visualize what is being described. An example of a simile is the sentence “John is as slow as a snail”. Similes are especially effective in storytelling, where they can be used effectively to paint pictures.
Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration for extra effect. It is used to communicate ideas, emotions, and images in a more efficient way than through plain language. For example, an author may write, “Bradley’s room is so big that the entire college can fit into it.” By exaggerating the size of the room so dramatically, the audience has a better idea of how large the room is. In this way, hyperbole is used to better express an author’s intentions and meaning.
Literary devices are powerful tools that must not be overlooked in storytelling. They can add emphasis to phrases, evoke moods and emotions, and provide insight into an author’s words by making the storytelling clear and vivid. By using these literary devices you will definitely make the most of your storytelling!