Captivating your readers’ attention is good, but how do you sustain it? What keeps them transfixed till the end? Employing literary devices is one proven way to keep your readers wondering what goes beyond the current page.
Literary devices are techniques used in creating special effects and enhancing narratives. They cut across various genres in literature and are usually confused with the figures of speech. Figures of speech are a type of literary device.
Think for a second of how bland your narration would be without the use of dramatic irony, suspense, tragic flaws, figures of speech, flashback, etc. Literary devices give deeper meanings to sentences. They also create room for reflection and keep your readers connected to your writing.
There are many literary devices, each with its unique purpose. Let’s examine a few and how they function in a narrative.
- Figures of speech: Figures of speech are the most common technique. They typically do not go by their literal meanings.
‘I wanted to go out, but the sun smiled at me. I could see Mother Nature telling me to stay back’. Though the sun is lifeless, it smiled. It paints pictures in your readers’ minds.
‘I could not go out because of the sun’.Both statements portray similar meanings, but the first used personification, a figure of speech, to create a strong mental image.
- Dramatic irony: Creating a scene that puts your reader a step ahead of the characters is dramatic irony. It excites them to know that they have information that the characters are unaware of. In Romeo and Juliet, the reader was aware that they were both alive while the characters were clueless.
- Flashback: When a writer takes the readers to the past, that is a flashback. It is a technique that makes your reader understand better the action or motive of a character. It gives an in-depth insight into a narrative.
- Suspense: It is a heightened tension developed by deliberately withholding information from the readers. In contrast to dramatic irony, your reader does not have the information required to unravel mysteries in the plot. They are then eager to know what comes next.
- Humour: Injecting an element of humour in your writing creates relief and loosens tension. It keeps your readers interested in your work.
Literary devices are an excellent way of sustaining your reader’s attention; however, they could make or mar your writing. Using them appropriately is consequential to your writing success. So always consider your style, audience, and tone before selecting and using a literary device.