Literary techniques are the constructions of language used by an author to convey meaning. These techniques make the story more interesting to the reader. It is important that students learn to identify and understand these constructions. The mastering of these devices will help students get more enjoyment from the fiction they read—both in and out of the classroom situation.
These literary devices are commonly taught in the elementary and middle grades: Connotation, Dialogue, Dialect, Imagery, Idiom, Simile, Metaphor, Pun, Personification, Hyperbole, Understatement, Allusion, Oxymoron, Symbol, Alliteration, and Onomatopoeia.
Many of these devices fall into the category of figurative language. Figurative language uses figures of speech—phrases that go beyond the literal meaning of the words—to be more effective. Figures of speech include metaphors, similes, idioms, and hyperbole.
The study of the elements of a story goes hand in hand with the study of literary devices. The basic elements of a story are character, setting, plot, setting, and theme. Also important are point of view, tone, mood, and style.
The inclusion of figurative language in a work of literature enhances the various elements of the story. It improves a reader’s enjoyment and understanding of the literary work in several ways:
1. Figurative language helps create a mood, which refers to the atmosphere that surrounds the reader and evokes certain feelings.
2. Figurative language can enhance characterization. It can help the author reveal the characters’ traits and personality.
3. Figurative language can help the author advance or slow down the plot. The author can slow down the plot by adding long descriptive passages. He or she can use figurative language to add suspense or humor to the plot.
4. Figurative language can make the setting come alive.