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Spicing Up Your Prose Part 5 of 6

This week, we continue to add to our collection of rhetorical devices.

Polysyndeton uses conjunctions to string phrases in a series.

The library was dim and overly warm and full of sneaky shadows.

Neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor hail would keep Dick from finding Jane.

Polyptoton repeats words from the same root but with different inflections appearing in close proximity.

Dick believed the only thing they had to fear was fearlessness.

Prefabs can be used to create two and three beat rhythms to speed the sentence up. They include, but are not limited to:

  • boom and bust
  • bump and grind
  • daily double
  • doom and gloom
  • ebb and flow
  • eager beaver
  • fixer-upper
  • flimflam
  • flip-flop
  • harum-scarum
  • helter-skelter
  • herky-jerky
  • hip-hop
  • hotsy-totsy
  • hour of power
  • hurly-burly
  • itsy-bitsy
  • lean and mean
  • meet and greet
  • moldy oldie
  • namby-pamby
  • near and dear
  • oopsy daisy
  • razzle-dazzle
  • rinky dink
  • rise and fall
  • rough and ready
  • rough and tough
  • rough and tumble
  • shilly-shally
  • splish-splash
  • super-duper
  • super-saver
  • surf and turf
  • teenie-weenie
  • thrills and chills
  • tit for tat
  • topsy-turvy
  • town and gown
  • wear and tear
  • wheeler-dealer
  • whipper-snapper
  • wild and wooly
  • wishy-washy
  • zigzag

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 4 of 6

This week, we continue to add to our collection of rhetorical devices.

Parallelism uses balance and three beats following a sentence or clause with a phrase that starts with a similar kind of word (adjective, adverb or noun).
 The book was damaged1, damaged beyond all hope of repair2. (balance)

Jane loved him more for it1, more than she loved her books2, more than she loved herself3. (3 beats)

Personification attributes an animal or inanimate object with human characteristics.
The book hid its secrets from her.

Phatics are used to begin or interrupt the flow of a sentence without adding meaning to it and act as speed bumps. They are used to strengthen the connection to the reader and can impart a confidential tone. It can raise or lower the dramatic potential of a clause, it can emphasize an important claim, certify content, or negate content. Be sure they are not used to preface an information dump. They include, but are not limited to:

  • after a fashion
  • after all
  • after all is said and done
  • almost inevitably
  • amazingly enough
  • and I agree that it is
  • and whatnot
  • as a matter of fact
  • as everybody knows
  • as I believe is the case
  • as is widely known
  • as it happens
  • as it turns out
  • as I’ve pointed out
  • as unlikely as it may seem
  • as we can see
  • as you can see
  • at any rate
  • believe it or not
  • curiously enough
  • fittingly enough
  • for God’s sake
  • for some reason
  • for that matter
  • hi
  • how are you
  • I am reminded
  • I can’t help but wonder
  • I might add
  • I suppose
  • if conditions are favorable
  • if I may call it that
  • if time permits
  • if truth be known
  • if you get right down to it
  • if you know what I mean
  • if you must know
  • in a way
  • in a sense
  • in my mind
  • in point of fact
  • in spite of everything
  • in the final analysis
  • it goes without saying
  • it is important to note
  • it is important to remember
  • it occurs to me
  • it seems to me
  • it turns out
  • just between us
  • just between you and me
  • let’s face it
  • let me tell you
  • make no mistake
  • my Lord
  • not to mention
  • of course
  • one might ask
  • or as unlikely as it may seem
  • shall we say
  • strangely enough
  • to a certain extent
  • to be honest
  • to my dismay
  • to everyone’s surprise
  • to no one’s surprise
  • to my relief
  • to my way of thinking
  • to some extent
  • what's up
  • we should remember
  • when all is said and done
  • you know
  • you know what

Next week, we will contine to stock your prose shelf.

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

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: