Continuing our discussion of literary devices (last week, we looked at foreshadowing), I’d like to talk about two techniques used mostly by speech writers and not often by those of us who write fiction.
In fact, our self-editing programs may consistently red flag these as repetitive words/phrases.
I like to use them—sparingly–because they can be very impactful.
If used too often, they will never pack the punch intended.
The first literary device is called Anaphora. A word or phrase is repeated at the beginning of multiple sentences to emphasize the repeated phrase and evoke strong feelings in the audience.
An example would be: “He wanted to be a good boy. He wanted to please his teacher. He wanted to make his parents proud.”
Like I said, this technique is often used in speeches where the writer/speaker, such as a presidential candidate, hopes to rally a group behind their cause and/or belief, as well as gain votes.
A very similar technique is the Epistrophe. Here, the repeated word or phrase appears at the end of successive statements. It is used to evoke an emotional response from an audience, just as the Anaphora.
An example might be: He followed the rules so his parents would trust him. He kept his promises, so his children would trust him. He was faithful to his wife so she would trust him.
In writing, these devices can sway audiences to adopt one’s point of view.