Literary terms or literary appreciation form part of English Literature and English Language. The terms are commonly used to either emphasize or strengthen their compositions.
In this post, we shall bring out a number of very important literary terms in a simple diction, their meanings and usage that will help equip the students of Literature, English and those seeking to make a career in acting do very well.
Literary terms by definition refer to the technique, style, and formatting used by writers and speakers to masterfully emphasize, or strengthen their compositions. In other words, literary terms are playful techniques or witty tricks used or employed by comedians to coin new words or phrases to make us laugh or have emotional thinking.
It can also mean powerful figurative language that writers use to explain certain terms ranging from guilt to anger, to bliss, and to allow us see the world in new and appreciable manner. For instance, they allow writers and speakers to make comments on society, politics, and trends. Rhetorical devices can be used to strengthen arguments which persuade and convince audiences.
[Below are some of the literary terms commonly used in our daily spoken and written English.
Persuasion simply means ability to change the minds of others. For instance, speaking in a convincing and persuasive manner to win voters for politicians or convince people to take action for a cause or even get you promotion at your place of work.
Persuasion empowers the writer to change the mind of the audience and to compel the audience to take action in a certain way.
Satire refers to a play, novel, poem, film or other composition which uses comedy, irony, mockery, and exaggeration to criticize the absurdity or weaknesses of a certain person, institution, or situation. Often, satire utilizes comedy for more serious means, such as political and social commentary.
Rhetorical questions are questions asked without really waiting for answers. They emphasize a certain point and are persuasive. For instance we use rhetorical question in everyday conversation as ‘Will they let me go?’ ‘Are you kidding me?’ Why would someone do such a thing? etc.
Figurative language is writing which appeals to the senses. Rather than operating on logic or literalness, figurative language makes unique connections based on connotation, sound, and construction of words and phrases to present things in a new and meaningful manner.
A metaphor is a direct and vivid comparison between two things usually considered distinct or unrelated. Metaphors discover the connections between unique things and emphasize their similarities poetically without being taken literally. For instance, ‘John is the pillar of the family’. ‘Her smile is the sun’ etc.
Hyperbole simply means deliberate exaggeration of statement or idea meant to be taken figuratively rather than literally. Hyperbole exaggerates certain elements of ideas or things for comedic or dramatic effects. He is as tall as a Palm tree. The hunger in me now is more than a rebellion.
Plot and Character Devices
Plot and character devices are elements of the story which could be told in many forms including poetry, prose, playwriting, song, television, film, and others.
A story cannot be complete without a plot and characters. Plots are not always simple or linear, though, and characters are elements of a story which may be built, developed, and complicated. Novelists, poets, journalists, filmmakers, and others use numerous elements in making a compelling, interesting, and believable story.
A flashback is simply a moment in the past, in which the linear story is interrupted. Flashbacks are used to provide more information about the present and to further develop plots and characters in a way that is more interesting and complicated than a simple chronological plot. For instance, taking a look back to the memory lane to explain the present relationship.
Climax is the most dramatic, meaningful, and suspenseful moment in a story. Is one of the most important and necessary elements of a story’s plot. It is a breaking point or all drama that has been developing over the course of the story reaches its peak. In other words, it is the height when something or someone must change.
For instance, a boy has been shipwrecked and has struggled to survive on a desert island. The climax of this story occurs when the boy’s suffering and struggling end with his rescue.
Sound and Rhythm
The way we say or word things can create rhythm, musicality, and poetry for the reader or listener. Poetry in particular operates on syllable counts, arrangement of lines, usage of certain hard or soft sounds. Soft ‘s’ sounds can create calm and smoothness, whereas hard ‘k’ sounds create chaos and harshness. Sound and rhythm create powerful poetry, prose, speeches, and songs.
Alliteration is the repetition of a certain sound at the beginning of successive words or phrases. Alliteration is used to create rhythm through repetition and to evoke emotion through connotations attached to certain sounds. Many men mulch much meat in Mexico. Again, Sarah swam smoothly and silently across the sound.
Onomatopoeia refers to words that gives sound in meaning. It creates a vivid reading experience, as words are automatic forms of sound imagery. Good example, ‘the explosion erupted with a boom!’ the drum sounded bom bom!
This is giving life to an inanimate objects as they have life. For instance, he is as big as an elephant. He is as tall as an iroko tree etc.
Wordplay is rearranging a word in a creative way to change, emphasize, or mock its meaning. Wordplay is a creative act which allows writers and readers to flex their thinking muscles.
Much of poetry and comedy makes use of wordplay to emphasize beauty, intelligence, and wit. It is also a way for wordsmiths to sharpen their creative-thinking in crafting words in new and unique ways. Wordplay serves as proof that literature is evolving, as new words are invented each year. Readers and writers alike value wit and comedy in poetry, prose, and other forms.
Wordplay is primarily a playful and creative technique which is used by poets, playwrights, novels, short story writers, and children’s writers in lighthearted and imaginative compositions.
In conclusion, the above explanation will help broaden the knowledge of students of Literature and English to tackle WAEC/NECO exams as well as nurture those seeking to make a career in acting.