Monday, March 1, 2010

Literary Devices

Where does the color, the vibrancy in your writing come from? How do you visualize that setting, that perfect place for your story to take on life and travel to the end of the last page? Do you use simile, metaphor, personification, onomatopoeia?

Is there a book somewhere that tells the writer what to say and how to say it? Are there examples I can follow and make my writing come alive? Out of the mountain of books on my shelves to tell me how to write and how to build my characters, one stands out above the rest. The Bible.

Look at the Psalms for vivid dynamic writing. I wish I would have said, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” Having tons of hunters in my family, that one sentence from Psalm 42 stirs a dramatic vision for me of a frantic animal, being shot at, running hard, finally finding a creek where it can get a swallow of water before it continues running again. (Bambi embodies all deer for me. You shoot a deer and you’ve shot Bambi.)

He goes on to say, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” What a striking way to describe the need of the human soul for God.

Verse 3 says, “My tears have been my food day and night while men say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’”

Read down further into verse 7. “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.”

Don’t stop at the Psalms. Look at Proverbs 1:20 where the abstract concept of wisdom is described. “Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares.” Proverbs 10:11, “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.”

Isaiah is one of the most colorful prophets to me. See how he describes God’s love for Israel and the promises in that love? Isaiah 43:2 reads, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Did Isaiah mean that literally, or was he using a literary tool to imprint that thought in our minds?

What literary devices do you see mentioned in the above words? Better yet, what devices can you find in the scriptures today?

Donna L. Rich


  1. WOW -- everyone must be having a super busy day if I'm the first to comment to this MARVELOUS piece! Donna, as I read, my heart and mind soared! A thousand fragrant thanks for the "vibrant" inspiration! :-)

  2. Donna, I agree that scripture comes alive in part because of the beauty of the language that is used. God certainly knows how to touch our deepest heart strings. Certainly a worthy model to follow. Thanks for writing this.

  3. Donna, Great words and very inspirational. It reminds me that the major element that makes the Scripture so powerful is the inspiration and annointing. Obviously, that is what will validate our own writing too--the annointing of God on our words. Everything else is secondary.

  4. Thanks, Millie, for making my day. Thanks to all for your comments.