What’s your favourite rhetorical device?

Last week I talked about Rhetorical Devices and gave you a list of 60 of them. If you read Robert A. Harris’s post and went through all of them (of course you did, why wouldn’t you, when they are there to help you elevate your craft?) you probably noticed those you involuntarily use (as in my case) or do so purposefully. Chances are you use more than one or two, and it’s possible you have a few that are your favourites, either because they remind you a novel you read that stayed with you over the years, or because they added a little something to one of your works.

So, here are some of the ones I use frequently. See if we have any in common. To my knowledge, none of the examples I used here are used anywhere else. I just made them up as I wrote this post. If you know that one of them belongs to someone else, please let me know and I will take it down.

Rhetorical Devices


According to Robert A. Harris, amplification is the repetition of either a word or an expression by making it more detailed to draw attention to it. In my mind, amplification adds something poetic to my writing.
Example: And, oh, the sea, the vast, inviting sea. How much he longed for it.


This can sometimes be confused with Amplification. The difference (as I understand it) is the level of detail you, as the writer, add to that special word.
Example: And the sea, the sea that claimed her brother, would now claim her.


It is the repetition of a word or an expression, but unlike the previous ones, it usually happens at the beginning of successive sentences or clauses.
Example: If only he remembered, if only his memories hadn’t fled like frightened children.
Example: She approached the bubbling cauldron very timidly, very sheepishly, very carefully not to wake the fearsome guardian (for the sake of the example, let’s ignore the eye-popping use of the word “very” and the number of adverbs, shall we?)


It is the placing of a positive or beneficial attribute next to a negative or a problem to minimise the significance of the negative.
Example: He did crash into her, and her damage was greater than his, but he was willing to cover all costs and offered to take her to the hospital, if she were injured.


It can either be a word or a clause used to express irony or drive a point subtly.
Example: He’d enforce peace even if he had to kill them with it.


It’s the use of a clear comparable contrast of two ideas close to one another.
Example: The insect may look tiny and cute as a ladybug, but it kills faster than a nuke.


The abrupt end of a statement before it’s finished. The meaning of the statement is implied.
Example: If I don’t get the money to pay them –.


Usually a noun (or a phrase serving as a noun) placed next to another to give a description of the first noun.
Example: It happened at night, a dreary and bleak time, though George had no knowledge of it (here, the phrase “a dreary and bleak time” describes the night).


The intentional omission of conjunction between words or clauses.
Example: She was coming home with the unattainable. She was a champion, an Olympic medalist, a goddess destined for Olympus.

Example: She couldn’t get enough dancing, walking, running, living.


It happens when you (or your character) raises a question and then he/she answers said question.
Example: What would those at the settlement offer him, if he went there? A cut from ear to ear, that’s what (taken from my novel, The Darkening).

Rhetorical question
The difference between a rhetorical question and hypophora is that in this case the question remains unanswered usually because the answer is too obvious or to emphasise a point.
Example: So she would marry and bring that good-for-nothing in the house. Well, two’s company, three’s a crowd. So who was the extra one now?


Used by recalling a previous statement, only this time in a stronger or milder way.
Example: Gasps of awe and wonder erupted around the light, and one by one they moved closer to it. No, not any kind of light, a living light, a girl with a halo (taken from my novel, The Darkening).


Used to describe two very different things by implying that one thing IS another thing. Different from simile, that one thing is LIKE something else.
Example (metaphor): He had survived through another day, but had little hope of survival through the night, for hope was water held in an open palm (taken from my novel, The Darkening).
Example (simile): A face as white as days-old snow stared back at him, the flesh transparent, like tracing paper (taken from my short story Wisps of Memory, Published by 9 Tales Told in the Dark).


It’s the use of words whose pronunciation imitates the sound the word describes (Robert A. Harris).
Example: The room buzzed and hummed, first from his left, then his right, as though a thousand wasps that lay in hiding were now ready to sting them (taken from my novel, The Darkening).


A word, a phrase, or even a sentence inserted in the middle of another sentence, which is usually the main or important one. Those of you who frequent my blog must have noticed how often I use it. If you’re looking for an example, scroll up at the first paragraph of this post. Note that Parenthesis doesn’t force you to use brackets. You can also use dashes with the same effect. It all comes down to style and how strong you want the extra phrase to be in the eyes of the reader. Personally, I don’t like using brackets or see them in books, since they tend to drag me out of the story. Obviously, I have no problem using it on my blog 🙂


The representation of an object or an abstraction as having life-like attributes or human attributes.
Example: The derelict house groaned and creaked, as it settled its beams and walls in a more comfortable position against the wind (taken from my novel, The Darkening).
Example: Liberty called for them to fight to the bitter end.


It’s the opposite of Asyndeton (see above). Here, words are joined together by the use of conjunctions.
Example: The kids ran, and played hide-and-seek, and laughed, and tormented the poor old nanny.

These are the ones I tend to use in almost all my works. You can say I’m partial to them for some reason. Turns out I use quite a few of them. How many from the list of 60 do you use more often than others?