Last month we had the pleasure of discovering some amazing literary devices found in the humble PICTURE BOOK thanks to PB writer Beth Ferry. Beth is back this month with more techniques you can use to enhance your writing and raise it above the mundane. Here’s Beth:
Asyndeton. This involves leaving out conjunctions, such as Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. It is a great way to lower your word count. In the same vein, Polysyndeton is the use of many conjunctions close to one another – “He ran and laughed and jumped with joy.” I use the latter much more than the former. I really like conjunctions.
Internal rhyme. A rhymer at heart, I love all rhyme, but this type of rhyme is my favorite and I try to pepper some internal rhyme even in my non–rhyming stories. It is also known as middle rhyme because a word in the middle of the line usually rhymes with the last word of the line.
Homophones. I love to use these to add depth to my writing. It is easy to confuse homonyms and homophones, so just to clarify: All homonyms are homophones, but not all homophones are homonyms. Homonyms look the same and sound the same, but have different meanings such as bear and rose. Often one version is a noun and the other is a verb. Homophones, on the other hand, SOUND alike, but have different spellings and different meanings. These will seem the most familiar to you (to, too, two). My favorite use of a homonym is this one: “Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.” –Groucho Marx.
Euphony. This is basically just the loveliness of sound and the opposite of cacophony, which, I must say, is an amazing word to say out loud. Euphony is created by the use of some of the aforementioned literary devices, especially alliteration, assonance, consonance and rhyme. And just a little tidbit: “Cellar door” is supposed to be the most pleasing sound in the English language. Something to consider and possibly say out loud a few times.
Lastly, there is one literary device picture book writers should absolutely, completely avoid: Periphrasis, which is the use of excessive language and surplus words to convey a meaning that could otherwise be conveyed in fewer words and in a more direct manner. Stay away from this one. Stay far away.
So, picture book writers, pull out your works-in-progress and see if you can identify any of these literary devices in your writing. Then experiment with some new ones. Add a little assonance. Sprinkle in some polysyndeton. Pop in a homophone. It may make a fun and beautiful difference in your writing.
Beth Ferry lives and writes near the beach. Her debut book, Stick and Stone, will be released on April 7, 2015 by HMH. Land Shark (Chronicle) will be released in Fall 2015 and Pirate’s Perfect Pet (Candlewick) follows in Fall 2016.