4 Literary Elements to Leave a Lasting Effect on your Writing
Once upon a time, language was an art. Words and letters were manipulated to create an effect, to connect with people, and to leave lasting impressions. The things writers could do with words was beyond beauty—almost esoteric.
But, one day, things changed. I’d say Walt Whitman and E.E. Cummings are to blame, but the Harlem Renaissance didn’t help the crisis. Yes, these poets still created art, but an art more plain, easy to understand, but requiring less thought processing.
Nowadays, writing is more straightforward, more basic. More, a lot of things you can tell for which I don’t care! There are so many literary elements that keep writing interesting, like the four below.
There are so many classic examples of these elements; their use is actually part of the reason why those texts are classic. For example:
Think of this more like how we start poem lines with the same word, this one, you end the line with the same (or similar) word.
Gwendolyn Brooks use enjambment in her poem “We Real Cool”. Each line ends with ‘we’, leaving the reader slightly offset because we expect out predicate (verb) to follow, but you have to start over on the next line to find it. Not only that, because we’re expecting the next part, it emphasizes the last of the sentence because we’re anticipating it more than we normally would.
I know in my work, I use an enjambment variation for a similar effect. I do run over a sentence onto the next line, but it’s more to emphasize the next part of the sentence. If I have a piece that would really stand out in the poem, I’ll make it its own line, breaking up the grammatical sentence. It’s so lovely that you can do that with poetry.
This is one of my favorites when used in a contrasting manner. Think ‘color pop’ on pictures when one thing has color and all else is black and white.
I made sure to teach it every year in my freshman class with “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier. The author uses the marigold’s bright, gold petals as a pop against the brown dirt in which the characters live. Just like the definition says, it creates an interesting effect. Having that in the context of the story really makes it memorable because it’s so odd to be present. Of course, when things are different, it stands out and helps us to remember.
This one takes more conscious thought for me, but I do try to use it when I can. However, I don’t do it with the objects–which are actually more effective. I do it with mood and tone of the piece. In one of my poems, I wrote a poem about depression and desperation, but I used a cloud to do so. No one would ever associate the two, which is why it made it a little more memorable.
I tend to be addicted to this one. I didn’t even notice I had a writing style until I noticed this repetitive feature (see what I did there?). There are variations of repetition in poetry, but this is the most general.
This is more like having the chorus in a song. Repeating that part is typically most memorable. Not to mention, we usually draw majority of the poem’s meeting (in any form) from that repeating stanza. In non-musical poetry, anything from a line to a stanza can be repeated to help drive home an idea.
Personally, I find it helps me drive home and establish a mood. No matter where the poem goes, it always brings you back to that original interpretation and feeling fro the phrase (what I typically repeat). Just, be careful not to overdo it and make it annoying!
This is one is what makes Shakespeare so great. He had a penchant for playing with words by using their double meaning to move a funny conversation along but in a totally different direction.
Puns allow you to manipulate and twist dialogue, in turn, further developing a character or concept. It can be done with double meaning or homophone (when words sound alike but are different). Sad to say, I don’t really use this at all! I wish I could, though. Just one more thing I need to get serious about in my writing…
Essentially, there are literary elements that used to be a thing, and are now a rarity. But, like before, when used right, the effect the can be the difference between great and classic. I recommend you try it out and see how you do.
What are some of your favorite elements to use?
Let us know in the comments below and on social media, of course.