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List of literary devices

LITERARY TERMS

Literary terms Explanation
abstract noun
something that you cannot experience tangibly (i.e. through your five senses)
alliteration
a series of words with the same first letter or sound, usually consonants
caricature
an exaggerated and simplified description of a character , usually to make them appear comic or ridiculous
character
a person in a piece of writing who has consistent and developed personality traits
clause/subclause
part of a sentence, usually containing a verb
coincidence
an unlikely or unexpected connection between characters or events
concrete noun
something that you can experience, i.e. see, hear, touch, smell or taste
convention
a traditional and generally accepted form; it can apply to social behaviour or ways of presenting plots, characters, situations, etc.
cross-referencing
comparing one part of a text with another
dialogue
a conversation between two or more characters; or the words spoken by characters in general
exclamation
a sharp outcry expressing a strong emotion, often no more than a word or two
foreshadow
act as a warning or sign of something that will occur later
free indirect speech
a method of reporting a character’s thoughts and actions as if from their perspective
hero/heroine
the central male/female character, usually admirable. The word protagonist also means the central character but is not gender specific
imagery
descriptive language which uses images to make actions, objects and characters more vivid in the reader’s mind. Metaphors and similes are examples of imagery.
irony/ironic
a form of words which carries a meaning quite different from what it appears to say. An author or a character within a novel or play may make an ironic statement.
metaphor
a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object, character or action which does not literally belong to it, in order to imply a resemblance and create an unusual or striking image in the reader’s mind
narrative/narrative perspective
a story, tale or any recital of events, and the manner in which it is told
narrator
the voice telling a story or relating a sequence of events
omniscient narrator
a narrator who uses the third-person narrative (‘he’, ‘she’, ‘they’) and who has access to all the thoughts and feelings of the characters and to events
rhetoric(al)
ways of patterning words to make them more powerful, and/or using language to persuade or convince
sarcasm/sarcastic
an extreme form of irony, usually intended to be hurtful
satire/satirical
a work in which folly, evil or one or more topical issues is held up to scorn through ridicule, irony or exaggeration
simile
a figure of speech which compares two things using the word ‘as’ or ‘like’
style
a writer’s distinctive way of using words
theme
a recurring main idea
voice
can be used to refer to the writer’s style or to the different ways in which characters speak

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