Creativity Magazine

3 Literary Devices That Rock My World

Posted on the 16 March 2014 by Rarasaur @rarasaur


There are some rhetorical expressions and literary devices that I absolutely adore and could not live without. Sure, not all of them improve the academic quality of my writing, but they all contain a certain charm.  On their own, they may not be fascinating, but when their powers combine, fabulous things happen.

Here are three randomly selected favorites:

Antanagoge

It’s possible I love this type of expression because I was born in the South, but it’s also a successful management and customer service strategy. In business related matters, I call it the Sandwich — criticism always gets squished within the carby, comfy warmth of good things. In personal matters, I call it the “bless your heart” because the purpose is not to dull the blow, but to kiss and charm away the criticism. 

blessyourheart

When I was just 8 years old, in a rare situation at school, my teacher required me to write a letter of apology to my parents to explain the error of my ways.  What I wrote went a little something like this:

Dear Dad,

In my project for Thanksgiving, I wrote how Christopher Columbus was not our best hero and how some pilgrims were really bad.  The teacher says it was mean to say that about America, so she put me in trouble. I am sorry because I think she means well and tries hard to be a good teacher even though she doesn’t know some things. Bless her heart.

Strangely, the teacher did not approve my letter.

For those new to antanagoge, it is when criticism and compliment are linked together, or when negative points are balanced out with positives. If you don’t normally relate to nerds and extroverts, but you love this blog– then you just nailed it.

In recent pop culture, the less poetic definition of antanagoge has popped up quite often–  the answering of a question with a counter-allegation.

Obviously there's something wrong with my brain because these two were the my most logical choices for illustration this point.

Obviously there’s something wrong with my brain because I made this.  It’s just what popped into my mind when I decided I needed to illustrate the point.

The way I employ this in my daily use is not the most elegant, but I rely on it heavily nonetheless.

Hyperbole

I was going to say that I don’t know how I possibly survived before I was introduced to hyperbole as a rhetorical device, but the truth is, I think I’ve always had a knack for it. 

hate

I remember telling my doctor how my head felt like a thousand, lemon-juice soaked knives were piercing me from the inside out.  He diagnosed me with a simple sugar headache and asked me to cut down on my Halloween candy intake.

For those new to hyperbole, it just refers to an exaggeration or over-statement.  If you loved this post more than you love photos of wild cats in boxes, for instance, that would be hyperbole– because nothing is better than a large cat in a box.

Cat see box. Cat sit in box.

Cat see box. Cat sit in box.

Allusion

It might be an unsubstantiated claim to make, but I’m not sure if anyone does allusion better than the geek.  Between cartoons, comics, puppets, legos, and every full-blown science fiction series, it’s not uncommon to require several viewings to catch all the allusions built into the framework of the stories.  And– as everyone knows– you gotta catch ‘em all.

In Hercules, the animated Disney film, the lion pelt rug bears a striking resemblance to Scar, from The Lion King. This is an allusion.

In Hercules, the animated Disney film, the lion pelt rug bears a striking resemblance to Scar, from The Lion King. This is an allusion.

For those new to the concept of allusions, it’s just the fancy technical term for making a reference to a person, film, book, other literary work, or event.

Perhaps because geek is my entertainment medium of choice, I often find myself relying on allusions to bridge one idea to the next.  Sometimes, I even stack them because, unlike Highlanders, there can be more than one.

I geek therefore I allude?
Jinxies, I did it again.

Oh well.  There’s no point in hiding who you are. It’s best just to find your people.

Alluders Assemble!

Why yes, I did pretty much invent this post so I could use this and the other images included.  Judge me not!

Why yes, I did pretty much invent this post so I could use this and the other images included. Judge me not!  By the way, the source of this photo is awesome.

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What’s one of your favorite literary devices? Which of these do you use in speech or writing? (Bonus points* if you implement and identify the use of a device in your comment!)

* Bonus points are redeemable for invisible stickers.

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