Features and Devices
Aesthetic features and stylistic devices are the "aspects of texts that prompt emotional and critical reactions". Whether a text is a poem, novel, speech, film, or stage play, it will include a range of features, devices and genre-specific techniques. Literary devices are employed by authors to express ideas, enhance writing, highlight important concepts, strengthen the narrative, and help readers connect. Below these have been divided into two categories; literary devices and cinematic/dramatic techniques.
Collectively, poetic, written and spoken devices are used by writers to accentuate a text, engage readers and create meaning in their words. They help convey messages, that can later be interpreted by readers. The following are found within poems, novels and other texts, which may include scripts and screenplays.
Definition: Uses an entire narrative to express an idea or teach a lesson.
Example A: Little Red Riding Hood is a lesson in stranger danger.
Example B: Animal Farm expresses the dangers of communism.
Definition: A series of words, each beginning with the same letter.
Example A: The big black bunny bounced away.
Example B: Sometimes cats can create chaos.
Definition: Making reference to a place, person or event.
Example A: He was no James Bond, but he had class.
Example B: It rained every day as if it were Britain.
Definition: A series of nearby words, each with the same vowel sound.
Example A: I told you, if you're cold, fold the bold coloured blanket over yourself.
Example B: If you let your pet get wet in Winter, it may fall sick.
Definition: To indicate or warn of a future event or issue.
Example A: He would look back at the feeling of guilt in his stomach as a warning of the pain to come.
Example B: She didn't notice the slippery liquid all over the floor as she rushed toward the top of the staircase.
Definition: Language that appeals to the sense. The five senses each have a unique type of imagery; sight (visual), sound (auditory), touch (tactile), smell (olfactory), and taste (gustatory).
Example A: It smells of cinnamon and fresh toast. (olfactory imagery)
Example B: The chirp of crickets filled the air. (auditory imagery)
Definition: An expression of contrast between that which occurs and that which is expected. There are several types of irony including verbal, situational and dramatic.
Example A: "Break a leg!" she cried, to wish good luck. (verbal)
Example B: The fire station burned down. (situational)
Example C: There was a booby trap around the corner, but the thieves didn't know. (dramatic)
Definition: Where two contrasting elements are placed side by side.
Example A: The boy wore black and the girl donned white.
Example B: Whenever it started to rain, the sun would poke through the clouds.
Definition: Describing one thing as another.
Example A: The warmth of the sun was gold.
Example B: He is a pig.
Definition: An abstract concept or concrete object that recurs in a text.
Example A: Melancholic monologues appear numerous times in Hamlet.
Example B: There are many adventures in the Bible, this could be considered a motif.
Definition: A retelling, generally of past events which may come in oral or written form. While Narrative is a literary device, it is also a literary genre.
Example A: The girl hugged the boy before he could say anything.
Example B: Once upon a time there was a fire breathing dragon.
Definition: A contradictory word pair.
Example A: Big baby
Example B: Original copy
Definition: Describing or attributing human qualities to an object or thing.
Example A: The sun gently kissed her neck.
Example B: My car happily chugged along.
Definition: Language used to persuade, there are many devices that fit under the category of rhetoric.
Example A: Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.
Example B: When there is talk of hatred, let us stand up and talk against it.
Definition: A series of words or phrases with an ending that looks or sounds similar.
Example A: She sat on the log, and looked at the frog.
Example B: He opened the door, then fell on the floor.
Definition: Describing one thing as being like another.
Example A: The sun was as bright as gold.
Example B: He was as dirty as a pig.
Definition: Language used to give objects a certain meaning that is different from their original function.
Example A: Purple is the colour of royalty.
Example B: A dove is a symbol of peace.
Cinematic/dramatic techniques are found within film and stage texts respectively. Due to the relationship between these two art forms there are many overlaps. The following is only a snippet of the extended list of techniques, and some literary devices may also be observed in these mediums.
Definition: The instruction of movement, heights or position by the director.
Example: Both actors contrasted with one another, one standing at the top of the stairs and the other seated on the floor below. The actor at the top of stairs was directed to walk down slowly and cautiously, in preparation for the oncoming conflict.
Definition: The orientation and closeness of the camera in relation to the subject or scene.
Example: A close-up low-angle shot gave the audience a disturbing view of the person sneezing, creating discomfort and confusion.
Definition: Generally, the chorus, or ensemble, are a large group of performers that work together to create a scene. In film, an extra plays a similar role in filling the background void, which can create realism within a scene.
Example: In one scene of the film Inception, the extras change their pace and move more aggressively toward the lead, creating a sense that the antagonist's actions are causing problems.
Definition: Costuming pertains to any clothing, make-up or accessories donned by characters.
Example: His 17th century wig, boots, and walking cain gave him an air of grandeur that contrasted his ragged and barefoot scene partners.
Mise-en-scène (aka Setting)
Definition: A location in which action or a scene takes place, or the arrangement of set pieces and props.
Example: A dark forrest setting with minimal light and dense tree and shrubbery made for an intricate maze for the characters to manoeuvre.
Definition: The way in which footage is trimmed, arrange or placed together, as well as any effects added.
Example: Quick sharp shots of the lady running were pieced together to create the illusion of speed. Streaks of subtle fluorescent light were added to her back to give her character a superhero-like appearance.
Definition: The way an actor is instructed to move or perform within the script.
Example: Scene one obliged the performer to speak with frustration while slamming their mug on the table, all the while having their back turned to their scene partner. This created a disconnect between the two characters and ensured the right tone was set.
Definition: The use of sound (diegetic and non-diegetic) and lighting effects can create mood or change the tone.
Example: The rapid change in contrast and colour of the lighting, paired with the increased volume and pitch of the soundscape created an atmosphere of danger and suspense.