Know what these literary terms mean?

Disclaimer: Each of these words might mean something slightly different to each person, but in general these are the easiest ways to describe them!

Premise

“An assumption that something is true” is a broad definition, but in literature, one can describe a premise as a teaser. Ask a friend about a book, and they will tease you with exciting elements of the characters, plot, and/or the setting. Same with a movie trailer. If you see fast cars and explosions throughout the clip, you’ll assume that the movie will be an action/thriller. The premise of this movie is that it is an action movie with lots of cars and explosions.

Trope

My definition of trope, or the most interesting definition of a trope, comes from an essay by Rigoberto Gonzalez. A trope is “an anchor that can keep the narration coherent and even helps the writer find a way into and out of the narrative.” Although “trope” covers a range of figurative language, such as irony, metaphor, and allegory, this one is most interesting because it defines a technique that most people use, but don’t know what to call. Until now.

Say you want to write about an event, maybe a very important museum trip, but you don’t know how to start or finish your narrative. At this event, however, you remember that there was a dog always present. Start here. Go from the dog to the museum trip and then back to the dog. The dog becomes a trope for your story – something to refer to at the beginning, maybe middle, and the end of your story so that you stay organized and focused. It prevents you from going on tangents. The dog could even have parallel meaning with a theme or message that you’re trying to create.

Motif

A motif is something that keeps reappearing in your story, like a color, shape, weather, phrase, etc. The motif symbolizes progression in the story and has metaphoric value. If the dog in my pervious explanation for a trope just so happens to represent the eternal life struggle, then it’s also considered a motif. Not only does the dog have symbolism, but it also reappears throughout the story.

Here’s another motif: every time you see the color red in the movie The Sixth Sense, you know a ghost is about to appear. Red symbolized a ghost, but it also appears throughout the movie, giving hints to what’s about to happen next.

Idiom

Idioms are those neat phrases that you only understand a handful of. You know, like:

  • raining cats and dogs
  • keep the ball rolling
  • busy as a bee

Idioms are used in our language every day, but unless you know the background context from which these phrases originated from, you’re going to have trouble understanding what the other person is trying to tell you.

Idioms have to originate from somewhere. For example: “don’t jump the shark” derived from the show Happy Days when the character Fonzie jumps over a literal shark to increase television ratings. However, that episode marked the first of many where the script took an unexpected, unwelcomed turn. Saying “jumping the shark” means don’t draw attention to something in an unwarranted way.

Where you can find my books: http://www.amazon.com/Brista-Drake/e/B00YZGC792/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/writingmime

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WritingMime

Tumblr: http://writingmime.tumblr.com/

Other Blog: http://writingmime.blogspot.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/22704883-writingmime

 

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“Feed” by Brista Drake: Flash Non-Fiction Essay

My father wanted to try raising pigs while I was in high school. Raising an animal was popular if you were in 4-H, which I joined when I was fourteen. And my mom wanted nothing to do with farm living, even though she did indeed live on a farm.

But anyway, we got the pigs and Mom found every little excuse to get rid of them. Who’s going to feed them, Bryan? I’m going to have to go out there and feed them or they’re going to starve. My dad was a simple man, and he believed that pigs and all livestock had an instruction manual, and he read books and listened at 4-H meetings to know the healthy rations to give my pigs. Yet, Mom would still claim that my father was neglecting them and she’d go out and fill their feeders full each morning, afternoon, and night. It really made keeping track of their expenses tedious, to the point that I decided to add up all the bags of feed right before fair time and I’d guess the dates that we bought them. I also figured that my pig’s net value was going to be in the negatives. Maybe she did that on purpose.

But my mom did love the pigs. We had a sow (female pig with babies) and a boar (male pig), which neither could reproduce because they got too big (Mom overfed them), and twelve or so piglets. My brother and I each chose one to take to the fair when they were a few weeks old, when their shape started to show. Mom walked them two to three times every day, usually when my brother and I were at school. When we got home, Mom was already out in the field with them usually. We never got a chance to pick up a routine, or even get to know our pigs for that matter.

Mom didn’t usually come to 4-H meetings. That was always Dad. But she did watch our final presentation. We held up the board that Mom had hostilely built with us, since neither we nor she knew the facts that were supposed to go on it, and we took turns reciting from the handbook the information on how to raise a healthy pig.

Four three more years until my senior year, we bought two little piglets, they were almost always at maximum weight during check-in, and they never stayed by our sides in the fair’s showmanship arena. And every year, for some reason, Mom bawled as they were herded onto the truck, saying she was going to miss them so, so much. I am still confused about it too this day.

Where you can find my books: http://www.amazon.com/Brista-Drake/e/B00YZGC792/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/writingmime

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WritingMime

Tumblr: http://writingmime.tumblr.com/

Other Blog: http://writingmime.blogspot.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/22704883-writingmime

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