Best Practices in Writing by Mary Catherine Rishcoff Article 6

by | Jun 19, 2019 | Entry | Blog writing competition | 1 comment

Best practices in writing need to include figures of speech. Like verbs, figures of speech are complicated. There are numerous figures of speech, also. To discuss all figures of speech is beyond the scope of this article. However, in this article, the more common figures of speech will be discussed. There will be brief mention of the less commonly used figures of speech. Be it known that figures of speech are not solely used in the written language. They are spoken, also.

A figure of speech is a type of figurative language as the words suggest. Usually, it departs from conventional word order or meaning. It is a rhetorical device that when used in writing or speech produces a special effect. Like the use of adjectives, adverbs and verbs, the use of figures of speech can add color and luster to a literary work. A writer as well as a reader may find a story rather boring if straightforward language were used. Oftentimes, figures of speech are employed by a writer to better convey the ideas, thoughts and information of the story. By doing so, a reader most likely discovers and maintains interest as well as experiences a heightened sense of appeal.

There are many different kinds of figures of speech. These figures of speech serve to heighten the story. Some typical kinds of figures of speech are simile, metaphor and hyperbole. These utilize comparisons. Some common kinds of figures of speech, which utilize sound, are alliteration, assonance and onomatopoeia. Some not so commonly used figures of speech include pun, personification, euphemism and irony. Still yet, other uncommon figures of speech vary from understatement to paradox to antithesis. Anaphora, synecdoche and apostrophe are additional not so frequently used figures of speech. As previously stated there are numerous figures of speech in the English language, written and spoke. However, only a brief discussion of the more common figures of speech is made in this article.

I will start the discussion on the use of figures of speech as a best practice in writing with definitions, but specifically with a definition of simile. A simile is a comparison that usually uses the words like or as in a sentence. An example would be the man laughed like a hyena. Another example would be the newborn’s head was fuzzy as a fresh grown peach. There is a comparison made in these examples. The words like and as are used in the sentences, also. Because of comparison, color as well as luster are added to the sentences, hence the literary work itself.

The next definition to be discussed is of a metaphor. A metaphor implies a comparison, especially between two dissimilar things. An example would be the peach was fuzzier than a tennis ball. Peach is a fruit, whereas tennis ball is a game object. Although both may be round, one is edible and the other is not. Note that the comparison is implied and that the words like or as are not used.

Hyperbole is another common figure of speech. By definition hyperbole involves an exaggerated statement or term.  Her eyes shone brighter than stars is an example. Of course, eyes are in reality not as bright as stars. Stars are exceedingly bright. However, in the statement her eyes shone brighter than stars, the message is colorfully conveyed by exaggeration that her eyes were exceedingly bright.

The use of sounds in writing a literary work has an appeal to readers because hearing is one of our five senses and we are sense creatures. Alliteration is a figure of speech utilizing the repitition of an initial consonant sound. The big, black, beautiful bear balked is an example. The first letter of most of the words in the sentence is the consonant b. The sound of reading such a sentence is pleasing to the reader. Differently, assonance is a figure of speech wherein there is a similarity in sound between internal vowels in words neighboring each other. For example, in the sentence the bright light blinded her eyes, there are like sounds of the vowel i in three neighboring words, bright light blinded.

Onomatopoeia is a figure of speech wherein there is a use of words to imitate sound. Examples on onomatopoeia would be meow whispered the cat, hoot sounded the owl, and cluck chattered the chicken. Meow, hoot, and cluck are onomatopoeia words because they imitate sounds made by the animals the cat, the owl and the chicken, respectively. Once again, because we are sense creatures such words as meow, hoot, and cluck have a special appeal to us. They are vibrant to our ears whether thought, but most especially spoken.

Whereas the figure of speech of a pun is a play on words, the figure of speech of an euphemism is the use of a less offensive word. Most of us are familiar with puns so I will not cite an example. However, an example of a euphemism would be he passed, instead of he died. He passed is less offensive. As for some of the other figures of speech such as personification, irony, understatement, paradox, antitheses, synecdoche and apostrophe, it serves to say that these literary devices will stir the reader’s interest.

Conclusively, there are without a doubt many kinds of figures of speech in the English language be it written or spoken. These literary devices serve to add color and luster to a literary work by their very nature, since we are sense creatures. They serve to heighten a reader’s interest. Some figures of speech are more commonly used than others are. Some are easier to utilize in a story. I would think that for children’s stories, the figures of speech such as simile, metaphor, hyperbole, alliteration, assonance and onomatopoeia would serve well. They have a special appeal to youngsters. When writing, remember to incorporate the use of the varying kinds of figures of speech.

1 Comment

  1. Ethan Lee

    This is the perfect book for learning about the figures of speech. Thank you for the detailed explanation, Ms. Rishcoff!


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