Before we get started, head on over to this other PE article that lists a BUNCH of Poetry Terms and Techniques.
Poetic Terms and TechniquesPoetic terms and techniques
This article aims to give you a brief introduction to some poetic terms with which you can bemuse your friends and nonplus your enemies. Try and sling some of these terms into a casual conversation and watch the ensuing confusion.
If you don't want to confuse people, you could use these terms to discuss poetry like a badass
while smoking unfiltered cigarettes in a French cafe, when critiquing, or to give your own poetry a bit of a vajazzle.
These terms are arranged vaguely into alphabetical order for your convenience. Some of them will be covered in more detail in other articles throughout the week.
Alliteration (see also Sibilance)
Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds, often used for a specific effect in poetry.
the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
- - Wilfred Owen, ‘Anthem for Do
An item of soft, sweet food made from a mixture of flour, shortening, eggs, sugar, and other ingredients, baked and often decorated. Also known as the first half of my otp.
A narrative that has multiple layers of meanings. Allegories are written in the form of fables, parables, poems, stories, and almost any other style or genre. The main purpose of an allegory is to tell a story that has characters, a setting, as well as other types of symbols, that have both literal and figurative meanings.
A reference to something well-known that exists outside the literary work.
Character that is the source of conflict in a literary work.
Archetypes are literary devices that employ the use of a famous concept, person or object to convey a wealth of meaning. Archetypes are immediately identifiable and even though they run the risk of being overused, they are still the best examples of their kind.
The manner in which an author develops characters and their personalities.
Colloquialism / Slang:
A word or phrase that is not formal, typically one used in ordinary or familiar conversation. This is often region specific.
The most intense or exciting point in a literary work.
Denotation refers to the use of the dictionary definition or literal meaning of a word.
Literally meaning the action of untying, a denouement is the final outcome of the main complication in a play or story. Usually the climax (the turning point or "crisis") of the work has already occurred by the time the denouement occurs.
Word choice to create a specific effect.
Language that represents one thing in terms of something dissimilar (non-literal language). (Includes simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole, symbol)
A foil is another character in a story who contrasts with the main character, usually to highlight one of their attributes.
A hint or reference of what is to come in a literary work that usually isn't obvious until is has already occurred.
The whole system and structure of a language or of languages in general, usually taken as consisting of syntax and morphology (including inflections) and sometimes also phonology and semantics.
Type or category to which a literary work belongs. Such as science-fiction, romance, and horror.
Language that appeals to the five senses.
A literary term referring to how a person, situation, statement, or circumstance is not as it would actually seem. Many times (but not all the time) it is the exact opposite of what it appears to be.
A significant point or central theme, especially one that has political, social, or moral importance.
The atmosphere that is in a literary work that evokes a certain emotion or feeling from the audience.
One who tells a story, the speaker or the “voice” of an oral or written work.
The sequence of events in a literary work.
Point of View:
The vantage point or perspective from which a literary work is told. First and third person point of views are the most commonly used.
The main character in a literary work.
The part of the plot line in which the problem of the story is worked out or resolved.
The time and place of a literary work.
The literary element that describes the ways that the author uses words.
The actual way in which words and sentences are placed together in the writing.
A common thread or repeated idea that is incorporated throughout a literary work.
A set of forms taken by a verb to indicate the time (and sometimes also the continuance or completeness) of the action in relation to the time of the utterance.
An attitude of a writer toward a subject or an audience. Tone is generally conveyed through the choice of words or the viewpoint of a writer on a particular subject.
The author's distinct personality, style, or point of view.
- Are the definitions clear enough for you to understand?
- Did you recognize many of the terms? Which were new to you?
- Can you come up with an example of some of these terms?
- Did I miss any important terms? What are they?