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Four Literary Devices to Consider in Your Creative Writing

Are you looking to improve your creative writing? Are you tired of composing dull, uninspired prose? Good news, then! Allow me to introduce four literary devices (techniques, basically) to help make your prose be a bit more fluid, a bit more rhythmic, and a bit more lively.

1. Anadiplosis

Don’t let the word intimidate you; it’s easier than it looks! Basically, anadiplosis is when a word or phrase at the end of one sentence (or clause) is repeated in the subsequent sentence (or clause), but this time at the beginning. Here’s an example from a Malcolm X speech in 1964:

 “Once you change your philosophy, you change your thought pattern. Once you change your thought pattern, you change your attitude. Once you change your attitude, it changes your behavior pattern and then you go on into some action.”  

Notice how each sentence after the first one repeats the clause preceding it. That is anadiplosis. It helps emphasize a sequence of ideas or a main idea. Give it a try!

2. Anaphora

Next up is anaphora. Anaphora works by repeating a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or sentences.  For example:  “I love rice, I love beans, and I love chicken.” Note that an anaphora emphasizes a certain idea, emotion, or action; repeating “I love” three times can give the reader insight into the mind of a character or highlight the character’s feelings in that moment. Compare this to “I love rice, beans, and chicken.” Sounds more like a checklist, right? 

3. Epanalepsis

We’ve all heard “The king is dead, long live the king!”, right? If so, you’ve been exposed to epanalepsis. It takes a word or phrase at the beginning of one sentence (or clause) and repeats it at the end of the following sentence (or clause). In the aforementioned phrase, “the king” appears at the beginning of one clause and the end of the other.  Epanalepsis works well thanks to the serial position effect, where we typically remember the first and last parts of a bundle of information such as, say, a phone number, or a to-do list. Remember that when you think of epanalepsis!

4. Epistrophe

Finally, epistrophe! Epistrophe, the cousin of anaphora, repeats a word or phrase at the end of successive clauses or sentences. Think of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: “…that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” By repeating the words “the people” at the end of each successive clause, Lincoln highlights the tenets of a democratic nation.

That’s all folks! Note that there are more literary devices out there, enough to fill a whole book, and I encourage you to research them and apply them in your creative writing . In any case, I hope these four literary devices were informative and that down the line you’ll use them a lot more. They have certainly helped me in ways I never thought of, such as appreciating the power of repetition and making my writing flow easily between clauses. Go on and try them! Experiment and see which one fits you.


(Bonus: I recommend The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr if you’re someone who needs a  crash course on the basics or wants to iron their writing. Cheers!)

Emilio H. Mejill Ortiz is a fifth-year UPRM student pursuing a mayor in pure mathematics. His two dreams after graduating is to one day publish a novel and to drive from Miami to Seattle. He loves reading, learning about history, and strives to master koine greek.
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