Advertisement Upgrade to remove ads


A seemingly contradictory statement or situation which is actually true. This rhetorical device is often used for emphasis or simply to attract attention.


The part of the story or drama where all the problems or mysteries of the plot are unraveled.


The uncertainty or anxiety that a reader feels about what will happen next in a story, novel, or drama.

Hortative Sentence

sentence that exhorts, advises, calls to action


A major character's moment of realization or awareness.

Comic Relief

Humorous speeches and incidents in the course of the serious action of a tragedy; frequently comic relief widens and enriches the tragic significance of the work.

Cumulative sentence

a sentence in which the main independent clause is elaborated by the successive addition of modifying clauses or phrases

Dramatic Irony

When the reader is aware of an inconsistency between a fictional or non-fictional character's perception of a situation and the truth of that situation.


An atmosphere created by a writer's word choice (diction) and the details selected. Syntax is also a determiner of mood because sentence strength, length, and complexity affect pacing.


A thing, event, or person that represents or stands for some idea or event. Symbols also simultaneously retain their own literal meanings. A figure of speech in which a concrete object is used to stand for an abstract idea, e.g., the cross for Christianity.


emotional purgation/cleansing


Interruption in the present action of a plot to show events that happened at an earlier time.


the deliberate use of many conjunctions for special emphasis - to highlight quantity or mass of detail or to create a flowing continuous sentence pattern. It slows the pace of the sentence.


adj or other descriptive phrase regularly used to characterize a person, place, or thing


An expression peculiar to a particular language that means something different from the literal meaning of the words.


The use of a word or phrase that is less direct, but that is also less distasteful or less offensive than another. e.g. "He is at rest" instead of "He is dead."


a turn of fate that leaves the tragic figure destitute


refers to a grammatical or structural similarity between sentences or parts of a sentence.


placing two elements side by side to present a comparison or contrast


A brief recounting of a relevant episode. Anecdotes are often inserted into fictional or non-fictional texts as a way of developing a point or injecting humor.


The choices in diction, tone, and syntax that a writer makes. In combination they create a work's manner of expression. Style is thought to be conscious and unconscious and may be altered to suit specific occasions. Style is often habitual and evolves over time.


a deliberate omission of conjunctions in a series of related clauses; it speeds the pace of the sentence.

Rhetorical Shift

A change from one tone, attitude, etc. Look for key words like but, however, even though, although, yet, etc.


The appearance of truth, actuality, or reality; what seems to be true in fiction.


the repetition of words or phrases at the beginning of consecutive lines or sentences


A writer's attitude toward his or her subject matter revealed through diction, figurative language, and organization of the sentence and global levels.


The central idea or ideas of a work of fiction or nonfiction, revealed and developed in the course of a story or explored through argument.


Any writing that is not poetry.


Excessive pride


A balancing of two opposite or contrasting words, phrases, or clauses.


constructing a sentence so the predicate comes before the subject. This creates an emphatic or rhythmic effect.

Non sequitur

a statement that does not follow logically from evidence

Ad hominem argument

an argument attacking an individual's character rather than his or her position on an issue.

Circular reasoning

Reasoning that ends and begins in the same place. No evidence is offered

Deductive reasoning

reasoning in which a conclusion is reached by stating a general principle and then applying that principle to a specific case

False analogy

When two cases are not sufficiently parallel to lead readers to accept a claim of connection between them.


needless repetition of an idea by using different but equivalent words; a redundancy


feelings of excessive pride (not hubris)

Please allow access to your computer’s microphone to use Voice Recording.

Having trouble? Click here for help.

We can’t access your microphone!

Click the icon above to update your browser permissions above and try again


Reload the page to try again!


Press Cmd-0 to reset your zoom

Press Ctrl-0 to reset your zoom

It looks like your browser might be zoomed in or out. Your browser needs to be zoomed to a normal size to record audio.

Please upgrade Flash or install Chrome
to use Voice Recording.

For more help, see our troubleshooting page.

Your microphone is muted

For help fixing this issue, see this FAQ.

Star this term

You can study starred terms together

NEW! Voice Recording