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Spicing Up Your Prose Part 3 of 6

Here are more delicious rhetorical devices to add to your prose spice shelf.

Epizeuxis repeats a word in a sentence or clause for emphasis.

It was a long, long night for them both.

Hyperbole uses deliberate exaggeration. It can be funny or sarcastic. Use it sparingly.

Jane was so tired she could have slept for a year, maybe four.

Hypophora is similar to a rhetorical question, only the question is answered. Often the base clause or sentence poses the question and the modifying phrases answer it. In dialogue, it can be provocative if the character asks the question then answers it for the other person.

Jane turned to Dick. "So you want to slay the ghost, by yourself? No, no, I get it. You're strong; I'm weak. You're fast; I'm slow. I'd just get in your way. Fine, see if I care."

Isocolon stresses corresponding words, phrases, or clauses of equal length and similar structure.

Never had Dick promised so much, to appease so many, to benefit so few.

Litotes is an understatement that denies the opposite of the word the reader expects. It can use no or not. It creates confusion.

Jane was not a little angry with Dick for leaving her.

Metaphors can add richness and texture if used wisely. Metaphors compare two different things without using like or as in sentences and paragraphs. Not every simile is a metaphor, but every metaphor implies a simile. Dead metaphors and similes are often cliché, so it's important to cut them or change them up when possible.  The biggest offender is the mixed metaphor in which the second proposition is inconsistent with the first.
Dick was able to shed some light on the text. (light = understanding)

Jane stared through the window at the black velvet sky. (sky = black velvet)

Oxymorons connect contradictory terms. You can find extensive lists on the internet. If you look for them, kill them whenever possible. They are hard to spot because they are so frequently used. Most readers won't recognize them as such.
A few examples include:

  • act naturally
  • active retirement
  • almost exactly
  • approximately equal
  • blind eye
  • born dead
  • clearly confused
  • controlled chaos
  • deafening silence
  • exact estimate
  • found missing
  • larger half
  • old news
  • open secret
  • original copy
  • seriously funny
  • unbiased opinion
  • virtual reality

Next week, we will contine adding spices to your prose shelf.

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

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