Writer's Toolbox

Did you know that you, as a writer, get your own toolbox? That's right! It doesn’t even matter how badly you fouled up that sliding bookshelf you tried to make last year in wood shop!

LanguageEnglish Language
LiterarySymbolism, Allegory, Allusions
Reading LiteratureAnalyze a case of satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement
Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material
WritingLiterary Devices

Transcript

00:36

and she promised to fill his cart with tools called literary devices...

00:42

Hi, I'm Scheherazade! I know how to make stories interesting, because

00:47

I write tales to get all the town's landlords off people's backs!

00:52

Sheesh, have these guys never heard of cold, hard cash?

00:56

A symbol is a small thing used to represent a big thing, or a concrete thing used to represent

01:02

an abstract thing. Symbols are loaded with meaning. Hide 'em in your writing like you're

01:09

setting up an Easter egg hunt.

01:11

A window can be more than a window. It can symbolize inside versus outside,

01:17

freedom versus enclosure, and public versus private.

01:24

Speaking of inside and outside...

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Stories need to take place somewhere, right?

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There's a device for that... called setting.

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We use stuff like era, geography, seasons, and living spaces to set the mood and add

01:38

context to stories. Then, we get to decide what our characters do in the spaces we provide

01:43

for them. Since we're the creators of these elaborate

01:47

worlds, another thing we get to do is give shout-outs to other works of literature if

01:51

we feel like it.

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We can use allusion to refer to someone else's creation—and not just other works of literature.

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Writers can also allude to stuff like TV shows, songs, and famous paintings by including ideas

02:06

from them, their names, or even specific lines from these other works in their own writing.

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Of course, at some point, we have to be able to describe all the stuff we're trying to say.

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A simile is a figure of speech that compares one thing to another using "like" or "as."

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Ever heard the phrase tough as nails?

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Simile alert.

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Metaphors are like similes, but without the "like" or "as."

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Metaphors are magical because they turn one thing into another thing.

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Take the phrase "the golden hammer."

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The golden hammer isn't really made of gold; it just means "the right tool for the job."

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Similes and metaphors surprise readers...especially when they come right up behind them...

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and offer new ways of thinking about everyday things.

02:58

Another way to add magic to descriptions is through sound devices.

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The first sound device I'll show you is what fancy poets like to call perfect rhyme.

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Paint and faint.

03:10

Similar-sounding words and all that. But let's take a look at a couple other

03:14

ways to split verse... Scheherazade Sells Several Screwdrivers.

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That's alliteration, which is when all the words in a

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phrase start with the same consonant sound.

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Okay, now how do we put it all together?

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Well, to start, we can choose our words carefully.

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Thanks to a device called diction, the toilet can be the can... or the throne.

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Diction is just word choice and the effect it has. It's a great device for tweaking tone

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and saying it like ya mean it. Syntax is the way words and phrases relate

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to one another. We use syntax to organize our sentences.

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Syntax is like an enormous set of fridge poetry...

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... It lets us run wild with meaning and creativity...

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Well, within the limits of proper grammar anyway.

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Ready for the final purchase? Irony.

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Irony is when the actual meaning contradicts the figurative meaning.

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Writers can use a nifty device called situational irony, which is a way of showing rather than

04:14

telling what happens when life seems to contradict itself.

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Wouldn't it have been ironic...

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if our writer had been trained to use all these devices only to find out it was too late?

04:29

The writer, unblocked and pleased with his purchases,

04:32

toiled the night away with his new tools.

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When the morning came, the landlord was pleased with the writer's creations.

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So, he treated him to one thousand and one more days on his lease.