Glossary of Literary Terms and Devices



Persona: the narrator or storyteller of a work created by the author; may be a character or anonymous onlooker invented for artistic purposes

Personification: an inanimate object or an abstract concept is spoken of as though it were endowed with life or with human attributes or feelings

Prose Fiction: novels, short stories, and shorter prose works that generally focus on one or a few characters who undergo some sort of change as they encounter other characters or deal with some problem

Prose Poem: a short work, written in prose, but employing the methods of verse, such as imagery, for poetic ends

Pun: a word play in which the writer surprisingly reveals that words with totally different meaning have similar or even identical sounds

Realism: the use of true, life-like, or probable situations and concerns; concept underlying the use of reality in literature

Repetition: specifically refers to repeated words, phrases, lines, or even stanzas

Anaphora: deliberate repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of several successive verses, clauses, or paragraphs

Chorus: regular repetition of a larger unit of a poem, usually a stanza

Incremental: repetition of whole phrases or sentences

Refrain: repetition of a line or two at the end of each stanza

Rhetoric: the art of persuasive writing, the general art of writing; short or long sentences, parallelism, climax, simile, metaphor, irony, symbolism, etc. are aspects of rhetoric.

Rhyme: similarity of final sounds in two or more words

Masculine: only last stressed syllable corresponds: cat-hat

Feminine: last two syllables correspond: buying-flying

Triple: last three syllables correspond: tenderly-slenderly

Slant/Pararhyme: slightly imperfect rhyme: heaven-given

Identical: two words pronounced the same way, but with different spellings, meanings, and origins: deer-dear

Satire: an attack on human follies or vices, as measured positively against a normative

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