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Spicing Up Your Prose Part 1 of 6

Variety is the spice of life and these rhetorical devices sound like exotic spices. We know how they taste but have forgotten the names.

These spices should be sprinkled in carefully. They enrich a sentence or paragraph when you want a little punch. You shouldn't overwhelm the reader with them and should be mindful of clich├ęs. You earn a gold star for using them effectively. You earn two gold stars if you remember their names.

Abstraction advances a proposition from generic to specific.



Jane opened the book1, a thick tome2, a collection of poetry3.


Alliteration repeats initial consonants in consecutive or grammatically corresponding words.


Jane opened the diary, the wild, wishful, window to its owner's soul.

Amplification repeats a word or phrase, adding more detail to emphasize a point.



Jane wanted to deny the truth, the truth about the diary1, the truth about the ghost2, the truth about herself3.

Anadiplosis repeats a word that ends a phrase, clause, or sentence at the start of the next.



Jane opened a book. The book was a collection of poetry, poetry that made her blush.

Analogy compares two things that are alike and is more clinical than a simile. It can use: also, and so on, and the like, as if, and like.



Jane was drawn to Dick1 like a humming bird to nectar2.

Anaphora repeats the same word or words at the beginning of each successive clause or sentence. There are at least three or four beats. You can separate the beats with other sentences but they should be in the same paragraph. The last beat should be in the last sentence of the paragraph.

She should have ignored the diary. The truth was too horrible to acknowledge. She should have burned it. She should have escaped while she still had the chance.

Antithesis connects two contrasting propositions, usually in parallel clauses or sentences.



Jane knew he loved her and she knew he hated her.

Assonance repeats similar vowel sounds in successive clauses or sentences.


The rain on the plain drove Jane completely insane.

Next week, we will continue to add spices to your prose shelf.

For the complete list of spices and other revision layers, pick up a copy of: 

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