Literary Techniques

Presentation skills, such as vocal variation and body language, play a significant role in storytelling by enhancing a narrative’s impact, but nothing will ever be as important as your words. The ten story elements are ideal reminders of what to consider when writing your story, but classic literary techniques are capable of adding meaning, depth, clarity, and connection to your story. Here are a few to consider.

Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing provides a hint about something which is going to happen later in the story. Dialogue can reveal information connected to a future event, while physical actions will repeat, or may cause a reaction later on. It will hit your audience on a sub-conscious level, creating a feeling of mystery or tension.

Callback

Callbacks refer to previous events in the story and bring back some dialogue, imagery or emotion that was experienced in that moment. The connection may illicit laughter or sadness, satisfaction or excitement. In some cases it will tie up a loose end or provide clarity to a complex situation.

Imagery

Imagery brings people, places and events to life in a way that can paint a visual picture, describe a sound, imitate a flavor or smell, even transfer a sense of touch or sensation. It may be static, such as describing a person or a scene, or active when it’s describing a live event with some movement. When done well, the audience is immersed in the experience.

Symbolism

Symbolism uses objects, places and events to create a mood or feeling associated with a character, location or scene. A cloudy day provides a much different backdrop to a scene than stormy weather, as does the difference between a green, mowed lawn, and one that is brown with lots of weeds, or a junkyard versus a department store.

Metaphor

Metaphors are figures of speech used to describe one thing in terms of the attributes of another thing. While those two things are quite different, and the comparison is literally untrue, the association still serves to transfer the meaning into the minds of the audience.

My boss is a monster.
All the world’s a stage.
He’s such a shining star.
That meeting was a zoo.
She cried a river of tears.
The freeway is a parking lot.
The black sheep of the family.

Simile

Similes are figures of speech used to compare the qualities of two things by using the connectors “as” or “like” to create that comparison. Similes can be funny or serious, complementary or mean spirited. In any event, they can serve to add a degree of definition and emotion to the narrative.

Tough as nails.
He’s cold as ice.
She eats like a pig.
As sweet as sugar.
He’s blind as a bat.
Cool as a cucumber.
She cried like a baby.

As you create your impactful narrative look to incorporate literary techniques to enhance your story. And don’t limit yourself to these six. Below are forty more that you should consider adopting, though beware of those more suited to fiction writing than true stories.

Allegory
Alliteration
Allusion
Anachronism
Analogy
Anaphora
Anastrophe
Anecdote
Antithesis
Anthropomorphism

Aphorism
Assonance
Asyndeton
Characterization
Cliché
Colloquialism
Consonance
Diction
Epigraph
Epistrophe

Euphemism
Hyperbole
Hypophora
Idiom
Irony
Juxtaposition
Litotes
Logosglyph
Malapropism
Metonymy

Onomatopoeia
Oxymoron
Paradox
Personification
Pun
Sarcasm
Satire
Synecdoche
Understatement
Verisimilitude