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Spicing Up Your Prose Part 2 of 6

This week, we continue to add delicious rhetorical devices to your prose spice shelf.

Asyndeton omits conjunctions and speeds up the sentence using three or four beats.

Dick ran, laughing, hysterical, howling from the library.

Balance offers two propositions of equal value joined by a comma or semicolon. The second half mirrors the first half but changes a few words.

Dick asked not what Jane could do for him1, but what he could do for her2.

Chiasmus repeats a sentence or clause but reverses the order in the second half.

When the water gets rough, the rough get in the water.

Chronicity moves the sentence backward or forward in time using connectors such as: after, before, during and until.

Before Dick would agree to enter the library, before he would agree to read the book, he insisted that Jane go home.

Conduplicato repeats a key word from the base clause to start the next sentence or clause.
                
Dick was hard to love, hard to hate.

Consecutive clauses reveal a series of actions or thoughts.

Dick ran through the hall1, up the stairs2, skidding around the corner3, breaking into the library4 in time to hear Jane scream.

Epanelepsis repeats the same word or phrase at the beginning and end of a clause or sentence.

Day followed day, week followed week, and Jane still had no answer.

Epistrophe repeats the same word or phrase at the end of successive phrases, clauses, or sentences. It carries emotion.

Jane charmed him, confused him, and consumed him.


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: 

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: 

Redundant Words

Redundant words are so common they are hard to recognize. Redundancies use two words when one will do.  They are found in newspapers, broadcasts, and magazine articles.

A character would use redundancies in conversation. Few speak that formally.

Search for them all. Choose which ones to keep and which to kill.

Cutting some of them feels like amputating a limb. 

Yes, this rule is frequently broken . You will find redundancies everywhere. You decide.

Here is a short list to get you started:

  • absolutely essential
  • absolutely perfect
  • absolutely positive
  • actual fact
  • advance forward
  • advance planning
  • advance preview
  • advance reservations
  • advance warning
  • add an additional
  • add up
  • added bonus
  • affirmative yes
  • aid and abet
  • all-time record
  • alternative choice
  • A.M. in the morning
  • and etc.
  • anonymous stranger
  • annual anniversary
  • armed gunman
  • artificial prosthesis
  • ascend up
  • ask the question
  • assemble together
  • attach together
  • ATM machine
  • autobiography of his/her own life



REVISION TIPS

Do a search using [Control] [F] for redundant words. Eliminate one of the redundant words.
If you keep a redundancy, use it sparingly and for effect.
If you disagree with this rule, ignore it. Make sure your editor and agent feel the same way.

 For a larger list of some common redundancies and other revision layers, pick up a copy of: 


Profanity



Oh, the hellish question! Dare you use profanity in your writing? 

1) It depends on your target audience.

Will they be offended? Do you care? The more explicit terms should be left out of cozy mysteries.

2) Does it fit the context of the plot?

If you are writing about nuns in England in 1300, I doubt they used the F-bomb. You might have a salty old nun who muttered the occasional "bloody hell" but only after the reign of Bloody Mary I (queen regent from 1553 to 1558).

I wrote a series set in 3500 BC. Trying to write without some form of expletive, insult, or curse word was painful. I had to resort to them calling each other names of animals etc. Some form of exclamation is needed, but not every other paragraph. I had to stringently edit it.

3) Is it appropriate for your target audience? 

If you write children's picture books or Christian romance, I'd leave it out.

4) Are you using it to define character?

Some characters swear like sailors. Others never would. Do your space aliens have potty mouths? Are your characters living in the ghettos of New York City? If so, drop the F-bomb a few times. Don't use it for shock value. The F-bomb has lost its impact by overuse. It isn't shocking anymore. The F-word is versatile. It is a noun, adjective, and verb, even though it stands for "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" and did not exist prior to England adopting the acronym in roughly the 1400s. Modern television and film scripts overuse it and it becomes redundant.

5) Are you using it effectively?

A rare profanity inserted for effect is better than twenty in a row. Profanity offends many. They are red words and imply anger, even if the person isn't angry. It may limit your audience. It's important to ask how your agent or editor feels about it. If she hates it, she might insist you take it out. If you stand your ground, you may have to find another agent or editor, or publish it yourself.

If profanity is inserted into every sentence, it feels abusive. No one likes listening to abusive people rant, even in fiction.

6) Can you make up new ones?

This is a serious challenge for fantasy and science fiction writers. Come up with a few, carefully selective, highly descriptive swear words for your characters. We'll love you for it. It may even get included in the English lexicon. For historical fiction writers, make sure the word was used in the era you describe. Make sure the word is something your character would have come into contact with. If you don't do this well, it is a speed bump.

REVISION TIPS


? Do a search and kill for all swear words, especially the ones you make up. How many times have you used them? Can you minimize them for better effect?
? Have you committed profanity abuse? Should you trim them?
? Does the profanity fit the time and place?
? Does the profanity fit the background and personality of the character uttering it?