Home » Books: Defining Literary Technique

It’s a confusion of style – a book is chosen for its satire, understood to offer clever words and social commentary (designed to shame the majority into action, reveal the problems of the world). It’s meant to be a simple comedy. And yet the story is filled to nonlinear pages and fourth wall denials, plot twists and parodies. You are surrounded to devices: some of which you don’t even recognize and others still that blur beyond the usual expectations. And you are also faced with the sudden realization that this tale isn’t simple at all. It is instead bursting with new ideas.

No story can sustain itself without offering more than straightforward plots and character development. While these elements are often the only ones appreciated by the casual reader, they are not to be left without the assistance of literary techniques.

Defined without the typical technical terms: literary techniques are the devices and forms that authors use to evoke emotions, responses and comprehension. They are not the genre of a book (such a tragedy, romance or comedy). They are instead the concepts that form the story, shaping it into a cohesive plot. Without them the reliance would be purely one of dull details and dialogue. No chapters would be flavored to interest; they would instead be kept tedious.

There is some confusion, however, on which methods are considered literary techniques. Many assume they are simply part of the genres themselves, structures that must be followed. They’re not. They are instead deliberately chosen and can be exchanged for any tale. Common ones include: alliteration, flashbacks, juxtaposition, red herrings and the Deus ex machina. There are countless others, however, that can be used.

And through them books become more than dry recitations. They are instead offerings of their authors’ personalities. This allows them to craft stronger stories and lets the reader reap the many benefits. Literary technique is not a genre. It is instead what makes each genre vital.

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