Many authors often employ figurative language in order to create specific images or associations. Here are some examples of common types of figurative language:
There are many other kinds of figurative language, but the ones listed above are the most likely ones that you will encounter in the works that we will read this semester.
Often writers have central themes to which they refer throughout their texts. For example, a tragic story might relate that "Death is inevitable." Another theme might be that "Love is destructive." Still another might be, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." The author will emphasize these themes throughout a text.
There are many different kinds of conflicts that might arise during a story. One could be an epic struggle between a character who is good and a character who is evil. This is known as "Person versus Person." This is a popular conflict in comic books. Another conflict might be "Person versus Nature," such as in Jack London's "Call of the Wild." Still another might be "Person versus Self," which is popular with psychological thrillers. One example would be Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper."
This is not the absence of speaking. Sometimes silence can say a great deal. Consider for a moment that your best friend gets a new haircut. The haircut is terrible and not very flattering. Your friend asks you what you think. You remain silent, as you do not want to hurt your friend’s feelings. That silence says a great deal. It is similar in texts. What is not said can be just as important as what is said. Also writers will sometimes use silence as a means of making the reader fill in the blanks in a text. This can make the reader feel like (s)he is part of the story or even complicit in what happens to the characters.
Even punctuation matters! If I use an exclamation point, that means excitement. Why am I excited? What has made me excited? These are questions that I need to ask when I am reading. If I use a question mark, I am not just conveying a question. I might be conveying uncertainty. I might also be inviting the reader to answer the question, thereby engaging the reader. I might use an ellipsis (that’s the dot-dot-dot), which generally indicates missing words or silence. Even where I put a comma matters, as this is a natural pause and can change the meaning of a statement or even change the tone. Consider the following two sentences, "I ate grandma," or "I ate, grandma." In the first sentence, you have become a cannibal. In the second sentence, you are telling your grandmother that you have already eaten. Punctuation is also particularly important when reading poetry. Punctuation matters when we read, and it also matters when we write.