Get assistance in all main subjects - and many more

5 Basic Literary Devices That Will Deepen Your Writing

“Parting is such sweet sorrow.” Confused after reading this? Smart thinking! How can sorrow be called sweet, you may ask? , Let me make it clear what this is, and why is it portrayed like this.

The line is taken from Romeo and Juliet. The line uses a literary device known as “oxymoron”. You should know what an oxymoron is. Below is its definition,


Oxymoron is a combination of two contradicting words brought together to leave a lasting impression. So this is why “Sweet” and ” Sorrow” are brought together.

A few other examples may be,

  • Exact Estimate
  • Living History
  • Loyal Opponent
  • Magical Realism

A few other literary devices that can deepen your writing are,


Alliteration is a sequence of words or phrases that start with the same tone, all (or nearly all). Usually, these sounds are consonants to give the syllable more stress. In poetry, book titles, and poems, you will also find alliteration (Jane Austen is a fan of this device, for instance, just look at Pride and Prejudice and Meaning and Sensibility), and tongue twisters.

Example: “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.” At the beginning of all major phrases, the “p” sound is repeated in this tongue twister.

A few other examples maybe

  • Coca Cola
  • Hip Hop
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Fantastic Four


An epigraph is when, at the start of a larger text, an author adds a popular quote, poem, song, or other short passage or text (e.g., a book, chapter, etc.). Usually, an epigraph is written (with credit given) by a particular writer and used as a way to introduce underlying themes or messages in the work. Some literature pieces, such as the 1851 novel Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, incorporate several epigraphs throughout.

Go for this example: At the beginning of Ernest Hemingway’s book The Sun Also Rises is an epigraph that consists of a quotation from poet Gertrude Stein, which reads, “You are all a lost generation,” and a passage from the Bible.

•             Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: “Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay / To mound me Man, did I solicit thee / From darkness to promote me?” —Paradise Lost

•             To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: “Lawyers, I suppose, were children once.” —Charles Lamb

•             The Godfather by Mario Puzo: “Behind every great fortune, there is a crime.” —Balzac

The Irony

The irony is when a statement is used to express a meaning opposite to that conveyed directly by it. In literature, there are three forms of irony:

Verbal irony: If anyone says anything but suggests the contrary (similar to sarcasm).

•             Delivering bad news by saying, “the good news is”

•             Entering a child’s messy room and saying “nice place you have here”

Situational irony: That’s the opposite of what was planned or supposed to occur when something happens.

•             A t-shirt with a “Buy American” logo that is made in China

Dramatic irony: When the viewer is conscious, although the characters are not, of the true motives or performance. As a consequence, for the viewer, such acts and/or incidents take on different significance than for the characters involved.

•             Oedipus Rex (Sophocles): Oedipus is searching for a murderer who, it turns out, is himself


Metaphors are when, in non-literal language, concepts, acts, or objects are represented. In short, it’s when one thing is compared to another by an author. The two things that are mentioned generally share something in common, but in all other respects, they are unequal.

A simile is a form of metaphor in which the words “as” or “like.” compare an object, concept, character, behavior, etc. to another thing.

For clarification or focus, both metaphors and similes are frequently used in prose.

•             Cool as a cucumber

•             Blind as a bat

•             Light as a feather

•             Like watching paint dry

A bonus point

The Imagery

Imagery is when an author portrays a scene, thing, or idea so that our senses are drawn to it (taste, smell, sight, touch, or hearing). By creating a powerful mental image, this device is also used to help the reader imagine parts of the plot.

Example: Here is an example of imagery taken from the popular poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth:

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host of golden Daffodils;

Beside the Lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Additionally, forget not to explore,





And “Symbolism” as well.



Get a Free Trial.

We are waiting for you , Get a free trial class today.