List of Literary Techniques

Penlighten Staff Oct 6, 2018
Authors and writers use a variety of writing devices and methods to convey the exact thought or information. This Penlighten post explains these methods or literary techniques in detail along with some examples.
Literary techniques are employed by an author to enhance his/her style of expression, and provide more meaning and richness to the thought expressed in the writing.
Just as characters, plot, settings, and themes are aspects of story telling or novel writing, these are methods used by writers to give depth and subtlety, and to express ideas by fabricating them in bunch of words that can convey many things in just a few lines. These literary devices add richness and life to different kinds of phrases and expressions.

Types of Literary Techniques

Allegory

It is a technique in which the idea of the story is given in the form of characters, actions, or events.

For example: The book 'Animal Farm' by George Orwell uses animals as characters.

Alliteration

Often, you come across certain consonants repeated in a novel or a poem. This technique is known as alliteration, and its purpose is to create a musical effect, imitate sounds, and lay more emphasis to certain words.

For example: Silly Sally saw sixty slithering snakes
Better butter always makes the batter better.

Aside

It is a dramatic device used by a character in a play or drama. The character directly speaks to the audience and it is intended that the other characters on stage do not hear him. 

For example: Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene II
Trebonius: ..... [Aside]: and so near will I be,
That your best friends shall wish I had been further.

Blank Verse

Written in iambic pentameter, this form of poetry is written in non-rhyming style. Iambic pentameter uses patterns of light syllables, and they're accompanied by accented or stressed syllables.

For example: Romeo and Juliet, Act II Scene I

Romeo: ....Who is al-rea-dy sick and pale with grief
That though her maid art far more fair than she.

Climax

The situation, that often concludes the drama, at the highest point of any drama scene, which makes it more intense for the further scene is known as climax.

For example: In the story of Cindrella, the climax is when she places her foot in the glass slipper and has a perfect fit, after which she is chosen to marry the prince.

Comic Relief

Comic relief provides ease and comfort in case of tense and difficult situations in novels and dramas. Finding humor in time of problems is an interesting way to keep the story alive and keep the audience engaged.

Conflict

Characters in many movies, dramas, and novels struggle with themselves or with some external situations. A struggle that takes place inside the mind of a character is called internal conflict, while that takes place outside is called external conflict.

Man Vs. Himself is an example of the internal conflict. Man Vs. Nature is an example of external conflict.

Cliché

It is an expression that has been so popular that it might have lost its meaning.

For example: The expression, "turn over a new leaf".

Caricature

A caricature is description or portrayal of a character by exaggerating its characteristic features written with the intention of mocking it.

For example: Caricatures of political leaders is very often seen in newspapers.

Epiphany

A spiritual realization, often called life-changing event in the life of the character. Epiphany has been used in many plays when a character realizes truth that is different than what he or she expects.

For example: "...One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them" -"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

Hyperbole

An exaggerated expression that intensifies a fact. Examples of hyperbole are found abundantly in various plays of Shakespeare.

For example"I've told you a million times already."

Imagery

These are words weaved in such a style that they bring sensory impressions to the reader. There are numerous imagery examples in literature especially in poetry.

For example: Consider the statement, "He could hear the footsteps of doom nearing as she walked away from him, leaving him all alone".

Irony

Irony is a technique mostly used in comedies. An irony is when something expected does not happen rather the exact opposite happens.

For example: Poetry from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

"Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink ;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink."

Metaphor

Comparison of two things without using words 'like' or "as".

For example: One of the examples of metaphor is, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate" by William Shakespeare.

Onomatopoeia

Onomatopoeia is a word that describes the origin of a sound or imitates a sound.

For example: In movies words like KABOOM, BANG, POW, WHACK, WHAM, BOINK, POP, are used to add sound effects to action scenes.

Oxymoron

An integral part of figures of speech list, oxymoron are words that contradict each other's meaning.

For example: "He is a wise fool".

Paradox

A statement that although may appear contradictory, expresses a deeper truth or another facet of the same expression.

For example: A rich man is no richer than a beggar.
Another example of paradox is, "What a pity that youth must be wasted on the young." ― George Bernard Shaw

Personification

In personification, human qualities are given to objects and things.

For example: One of the simple personification examples is, opportunity knocked on the door.
The flowers are dancing beside the lake.
These were but a few of the many literary devices and techniques used by writers and authors. You can use these techniques and devices, to express your thoughts and feelings, in a deeper sense. Your piece-of-art looks like the one written by a literary giant, when these techniques are used.