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Devices To Create Rhythmic Or Tonal Effects In Writing

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The following section will outline devices to create rhythmic or tonal effects and how they can be used.


Punctuation is the use of special signs in writing to clarify how words are used; the term also refers to the signs themselves. In every language, besides the sounds of the words that are strung together, there are other features, such as tone, accent, and pauses that are equally important. In English, stress, pausing, and tonal changes come together in a set of patterns often called intonations. Such features are represented by punctuation, indicated by signs inserted usually between words, and often following the feature they mark.

Definitions for common punctuation:

Rhetorical Devices

Repetition of certain words: Repetition is used to emphasise a point. The repeated use of the same word or word pattern is used as a rhetorical device. As an example, the repetition of the words “What if…” at the beginning of each line reinforces the speaker’s confusion and fear.

Questioning is another rhetorical device; two common types are:

The rhetorical question: A question where an answer is not expected; often used to involve the audience and create interest. The person who asks, "What kind of stupid plan is that?" expects no answer.

The loaded question: Forcing someone to answer in such a way that they lead the audience to an inappropriately implied message. An example is in a court case, a lawyer asking a man to give either a "yes" or "no" answer to the question "Have you stopped beating your wife?".

Emphasis: Is to stress or to place importance on a certain word. It is prominence given to a syllable, word, or words, as by raising the voice or printing in bold or italic type.

Counterpoints: Are contrasting ideas such as black/white, darkness/light, good/bad.

Themes: Linking devices that hold a text together structurally, e.g. the battle between good and evil: the general idea or insight about life a writer wishes to express. All of the elements of literary terms contribute to a theme. A simple theme can often be stated in a single sentence.

Introduction and Conclusion: These are framing strategies and are important when writing text.

Style and Tone: When writing you should examine your own responses to the writing. What is it that makes you respond as you do? Are you the author’s intended audience? If not, who is? The attitude a writer takes towards a subject or character: serious, humorous, sarcastic, ironic, satirical, tongue-in-cheek, solemn, objective.

Analogy: The comparison of two pairs that have the same relationship. The key is to determine the relationship between the first, so you can choose the correct second pair, as an example hot is to cold as fire is to ice.

Use of Stylistic Devices to Enhance Meaning

Stylistic devices used in text assist with enhancing the meaning of your writing. Examples of stylistic devices are outlined below.