Writer’s Toolbox, a la Shmoop. It is said that once there was a young man
with writer’s block… …who would lose his home unless he could
come up with a book of strange and wonderful stories. So the writer headed out in search of tools
to make his tales more interesting. He met a storyteller who knew
all the tricks of the trade, and she promised to fill his
cart with tools called literary devices… Hi, I’m Scheherazade!
I know how to make stories interesting, because I write tales to get all the town’s landlords
off people’s backs! Sheesh, have these guys never
heard of cold, hard cash? A symbol is a small thing used to represent
a big thing, or a concrete thing used to represent an abstract thing. Symbols are loaded with
meaning. Hide ’em in your writing like you’re setting up an Easter egg hunt. A window can be more than a window. It can
symbolize inside versus outside, freedom versus enclosure, and public versus private. Speaking of inside and outside… Stories need to take place somewhere, right? There’s a device for that… called setting. We use stuff like era, geography, seasons,
and living spaces to set the mood and add context to stories. Then, we get to decide
what our characters do in the spaces we provide for them.
Since we’re the creators of these elaborate worlds, another thing we get to do is give
shout-outs to other works of literature if we feel like it. We can use allusion to refer to someone else’s
creation—and not just other works of literature. Writers can also allude to stuff like TV shows,
songs, and famous paintings by including ideas from them, their names, or even specific lines
from these other works in their own writing. Of course, at some point, we have to be able
to describe all the stuff we’re trying to say. A simile is a figure of speech that compares
one thing to another using “like” or “as.” Ever heard the phrase tough as nails? Simile alert. Metaphors are like similes,
but without the “like” or “as.” Metaphors are magical because they turn one
thing into another thing. Take the phrase “the golden hammer.” The golden hammer isn’t really made of gold;
it just means “the right tool for the job.” Similes and metaphors surprise readers…especially
when they come right up behind them… and offer new ways of thinking
about everyday things. Another way to add magic to descriptions is
through sound devices. The first sound device I’ll show you is what
fancy poets like to call perfect rhyme. Paint and faint. Similar-sounding words and all
that. But let’s take a look at a couple other ways to split verse…
Scheherazade Sells Several Screwdrivers. That’s alliteration, which is when
all the words in a phrase start with the same consonant sound. Okay, now how do we put it all together? Well, to start, we can choose our words carefully. Thanks to a device called diction, the
toilet can be the can… or the throne. Diction is just word choice and the effect
it has. It’s a great device for tweaking tone and saying it like ya mean it.
Syntax is the way words and phrases relate to one another. We use syntax to
organize our sentences. Syntax is like an enormous set of fridge poetry… … It lets us run wild with meaning and creativity… Well, within the limits of proper grammar anyway. Ready for the final purchase? Irony. Irony is when the actual meaning
contradicts the figurative meaning. Writers can use a nifty device called situational
irony, which is a way of showing rather than telling what happens when life
seems to contradict itself. Wouldn’t it have been ironic… if our writer had been trained to use all
these devices only to find out it was too late? The writer, unblocked and pleased with his purchases, toiled the night away with his new tools. When the morning came, the landlord was pleased
with the writer’s creations. So, he treated him to one thousand and one
more days on his lease.