Literary Devices – Part 1

by juliusmsanz

Yesterday I remembered that with all these posts I’ve never one wrote about how I actually start writing on a new piece.

It turns out it has everything to do with narrative techniques or devices. I like working with interesting ideas and concepts, so if I have to write something based on one of those I just go with the flow and try to milk it as much as I can.

On my previous post, I kinda used one of those devices, but now that I’m rant free, I should be able to talk about a couple of them in a more coherent fashion.

The first is the unreliable narrator.

The unreliable narrator is a great narrative device that can create more interest in your readers as the story goes along, and I’ll explain why. I’m sure that some of you are familiar with the movie Rashomon by Akira Kurosawa. What that movie deals with is the same story, or situation (let’s call it that way), told from different characters. What does this do? First of all it allows you to explore the personality of your characters. One character might be more observant than others, another character might have some prejudices against a certain class of people and will talk about them in a negative fashion. If you are reading from just one character’s point of view you may not be able to pick the differences or how that character is truly different, but if you do the same for multiple characters then you can flesh out your characters more, and really give some extra flavour to your story. One character might be a complete liar and all the things you’ve read about can be just fabrications. For some that might be annoying, personally I find it amusing and interesting. Another thing that can happen is that your unreliable narrators can explore your world in different ways and give a greater sense of depth to your universe. One character can perceive the world in a completely different way and it could turn out that it had nothing to do with how the world truly was. I just finished a couple of months ago a good story that used this element: The Moonstone. It was a great read and I found the work to be very interesting. It adds to mystery and intrigue.

Another device is: in medias res

Writing in medias res can be a very good technique when writing the beginning of a story. Why bother with lots of information if you can get right into the action? I’ve written before that first impressions are very important. But the benefits don’t end here: when you are writing in medias res you are giving the reader a lot of questions that you can answer at your own pace. It increases the interest, at least for me. Why is that? If you start with the action and only give little by little of what the reader should know you are captivating the reader to discover more about your story and your characters and why they are doing what they are doing.

Now I know I didn’t tell you anything you didn’t know already, but I find these to be some interesting concepts to write around, if you know how to write them well and if they fit into your story.

And this concludes the first part, expect part 2 tomorrow!

Have a nice day!