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📝 Aesthetic Features
A story, poem, or narrative that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden
meaning, typically a moral or political one.
The hidden meaning often acts as a commentary on real-world events or issues
or relates to the main motif of the narrative. As above, commentaries are often
made on moral or political issues.
Example: On its surface, Animal Farm is a story about farm animals that rebel
against their farmer. The underlying story, however, concerns Orwell’s
disillusionment with the Bolshevik Revolution and is an indictment of the
Russian government.
The repetition of consonants at the beginning of adjacent or closely
connected words or sentences to create a sense of rhythm.
Alliteration is a common poetic technique to create a sense of flow through the
rhythm of the words.
Example: “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”
An expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it
explicitly; an indirect or passing reference.
Religious allusions are commonly found texts and poems, particularly Biblical
allusions due to the proliferation of Christianity and its influence on authors.
Example: “Chocolate cake is my Achilles heel.” The allusion here is to ‘Achilles’
heel,’ or the Greek myth about the hero Achilles and how his heel was his one
weakness. In this case, the speaker’s “weakness” is chocolate cake.
The quality of being open to more than one interpretation; inexactness.
The author may not reveal explicitly what has happened so the
interpretation falls to the readers.
This technique encourages audience curiosity and boosts reader interest in the
text as they are left to fill in the gaps themselves or make up their own minds
about what has been omitted.
Example: The film Inception concludes with a spinning top. It is previously
established that the behaviour of this spinning top reveals the difference
between reality and the dream world. The film ends ambiguously by cutting on
the spinning top, so the audience is left never knowing if the ending occurs in
the dream world or reality.
A comparison between one thing and another, typically for the purpose of
explanation or clarification, or to highlight a relationship between them.
It is most commonly used to draw parallels between two things, though it may
also be used to highlight differences. Analogies often contain metaphors and
similes, though this is not always the case.
Example: “Life is like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re gonna
get” (Forrest Gump).
Using two sentences or ideas with contradictory or opposite meanings
directly after or close to one another. Similar to juxtaposition or contrast.
This is used to highlight contrast between two ideas or states of being, though
the two sentences often balance each other out to uncover both sides and
reveal all aspects of an idea or concept.
Example: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” (Charles Dickens, A
Tale of Two Cities).
A very typical or common example of a certain person or thing.
Archetypes may be used to draw parallels between a foreign idea and
something that readers are already familiar with. This is commonly used as a
method of characterisation such as framing characters as average Joes, class
clowns, or bad boys.
Example: Yoda from Star Wars, Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings, and
Dumbledore from Harry Potter all fit into the wise old mentor archetype.
Repetition or rhyming of vowel sounds in successive words or
phrases. Similar to alliteration, though instead of consonants it is the
vowel sounds that are repeated.
This may be at the beginning of words or phrases or within words themselves.
It creates a sense of rhythm or flow similar to alliteration which makes it very
common in poetry.
Example: “The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain.” Here, the vowel sound
formed by the ‘ai’ combination is repeated in successive words.
Atmosphere refers to the feeling or mood created by a particular place,
situation or text. It is linked with setting which creates a particular
atmosphere that then invokes particular moods onto readers.
Different settings create different atmospheres which then, in turn, invoke
particular moods onto readers. For example, the atmosphere of a lake or
meadow may impart tranquillity while a dark and stormy night may create an
ominous mood. Atmosphere is linked to and created by imagery.
Example: “In her attic bedroom Margaret Murray, wrapped in an old patchwork
quilt, sat on the foot of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied
lashing of the wind.”
Characterisation is the representation of persons in narrative and dramatic
works. Characters must be introduced, described and developed through
their interactions, choices and dialogue.
Characterisation helps readers to relate to the characters described in texts;
effective characterisation allows readers to almost forget that the characters are
not in fact real people. This makes their choices and decisions, and the events
of the narrative, more exciting and consequential.
Example: Bilbo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings is initially characterised as
timid, though by the end of the story readers see him as one of the bravest and
most honourable characters. Even as the other participants in his quest become
corrupted by greed, Bilbo maintains his common sense, courage, and eagerness
to please.
A cliché is an element of an artistic work, saying, or idea that has become
overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, even to the
point of being irritating.
Clichés may be a sign of lazy writing, though they can often be used to achieve
a particular purpose such as in characterisation to frame a character as dull or
Example: “He ran like the wind.”
An idea, feeling or concept which a word, phrase or situation invokes in
addition to its literal or primary meaning.
We must assume that writers are acutely aware of the connotations associated
with particular words, and that every word that has been written has been
selected to serve a particular purpose. Connotations associated with words or
phrases create particular atmospheres or tones.
Example: While ‘beautiful’ and ‘cute’ have similar meanings, their connotations
are quite different. ‘Beautiful’ creates a sense of elegance and maturity while
‘cute’ is more often associated with youth.
The time, place and social setting within which a text was created,
including the values, attitudes and beliefs of the time, world events,
popular culture and influential figures.
Context can be divided into the historical context of the time (the major world
events, influential figures, and the values, attitudes and beliefs of the time), the
literary context (the prevailing literary trends, genres and styles) and the
personal context of the author (their personal values, attitudes and beliefs).
Each of these, particularly the author’s personal context, influence the text and
how it is delivered to readers to achieve a particular purpose. While not an
explicit literary technique, the context in which the text was created influence
which aesthetic features and stylistic devices the author uses.
Example: The works of T.S. Eliot perfectly demonstrate the importance of
context. All of Eliot’s poems, such as The Waste Land, reflect the rise of
modernism at the time along with Eliot’s own values, attitudes and beliefs,
particularly his loneliness.
When two words, phrases, ideas or motifs that are strikingly different from
each other are used in close association.
Contrast is often used to highlight the differences between two things. By
presenting concepts, themes, characters, objects, ideas or settings that contrast
each other together, readers are led to focus on the particulars and specifics of
the differences.
Example: Timon and Pumbaa (The Lion King) are visually contrasting. Timon is
small, angular and lightly coloured, while Pumbaa is large, rounded and a darker
colour. This emphasises their differences and the unlikeliness of their friendship.
In film, costuming refers to the clothing, accessories and special effects
used to develop and communicate the appearance of a character.
This communicates the details of a character’s personality to the audience, and
helps actors transform into new and believable people on screen. A character’s
costume is crucial for their characterisation and their clothing and overall
appearance subtly conveys to viewers who the character is and what values,
attitudes and beliefs they hold.
Example: A member of a royal family would wear expensive jewellery and fine,
clean clothes and shoes while a beggar would instead be barefoot and seen in
dirty, inexpensive clothes. Viewers immediately perceive who the character is
and what role they play based on their costumes and make assumptions about
the character’s values, attitudes and beliefs.
Dialogue is a written or spoken conversational exchange between two or
more people; aids in characterisation and progression of the narrative.
This is one of the most important aspects of characterisation. The word choices
that individual characters use help to frame who they are to readers and is one
of the main methods authors use to communicate characters’ values, attitudes
and beliefs. It is also often used to develop or move along the main plot of the
Example: “Not fair! not fair!” he hissed. “It isn’t fair, my precious, is it, to ask us
what it’s got in its nassty little pocketses?” (The Hobbit). This quote from Gollum
is a great example of the power of dialogue in shaping characters. Readers gain
insight into the creature’s values, attitudes and beliefs and his obscure way of
speaking frames him as inhuman.
Dramatic Irony
When the audience knows something about the events or characters of the
text that the characters themselves are not aware of.
This may be achieved by cutting away from the main character to focus on
another before returning to the main character and watching the results. It may
also be used to inform readers of crucial prior events which are eventually
revealed to the main character over time. Dramatic irony is used to increase
audience suspense and anticipation of how and when their knowledge will be
revealed to the characters in the text.
Example: In Shakespeare’s Othello, the title character is led to believe his wife
Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio, though the audience knows that she
is not.
The way in which scenes and entire films are constructed and pieced
together to create a cohesive and engaging narrative.
The way in which films are edited greatly influences viewers’ perception of a
scene or the entire film. For example, continuity editing — showing events as
they happen — adds suspense and anticipation while cuts and montages to
other locations or time periods can encourage viewers to reflect and think more
deeply about events.
Example: A jump cut is a technique used in editing where an editor cuts from
one shot to another without leaving enough time for the action to take place
between shots. An example is cutting from someone with a sad expression to a
shot of them with a joyous expression. This would create a sense of confusion
in viewers and encourage them to piece together what occurred in between.
Emotive Language
The use of descriptive words, often adjectives, that can show the reader
how an author or character feels about something and evoke an emotional
Emotive language is used to influence an audience by using words and phrases
with strong connotations. This type of language is very often made vague to
more effectively invoke an emotional response or exploit preconceived
Example: “The defenceless wolf was violently attacked by the gruesome bear.”
A mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be
too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or
Euphemisms are often used to refer to more politely refer to things that are
sexual, unsanitary, or improper (to downplay them). They may also be used in
some instances to amuse or entertain readers as they are often obscure or
Example: “Passed away” is a common euphemism used instead of “died” as it
has less harsh and more sympathetic connotations.
A sentence that is written with an exclamation mark (“!”) or with other
aesthetic features that impart a sense of shock or excitement.
This is often used to give readers insight into the emotional state of characters
by revealing their passion, anger or fear in response to a particular situation. It
is used to express and convey high levels of emotion.
Example: “How dare you!” may be said when someone has done something to
offend or upset another character who is responding with high levels of
emotion. Readers gain insight into their anger and disbelief.
Figurative Language
The use of words in a way that deviates from their conventional meaning
to convey a complicated meaning, colourful writing, clarity, or evocative
Figurative language includes several other aesthetic features such as metaphors,
similes, hyperbole, metonymy, and personification. It is often used to make
comparisons between ideas, characters or concepts.
Example: “At about ten o’clock in the morning the sun threw a bright dust-laden
bar through one of the side windows, and in and out of the beam flies shot like
rushing stars” (Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck).
A character who is presented as a contrast to another character to
emphasise the second character’s attributes and values or compare the
A foil exists simply to highlight or draw attention to certain traits of another
character. A foil may not necessarily be an antagonist, and they may even be
friends with the character they are created to draw attention to.
Example: In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein shuts himself off
from others, driven by his obsession to create a living being. He thus creates his
own foil: a lonely creature who craves companionship and connection,
exhibiting the human characteristics that Frankenstein lacks.
The act of hinting at or setting up an event or situation that will later
unfold in the story; the author hints at what is to come later.
It is most often used to generate audience suspense or tension and keeps
readers engaged and anticipating what is to come. As a result, it is often found
at the ends of chapters or sections and is common in genres where suspense is
crucial, such as horror.
Example: In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo says “Come, death, and welcome. Juliet
wills it so.” Juliet also has a vision of Romeo “As one dead in the bottom of a
tomb.” This foreshadows the lovers’ deaths and emphasises that they are
trapped by their fates.
Fractured Sentences
Broken off, fragmented or incomplete sentences used commonly in
Fragmented sentences are commonly used in dialogue to more closely replicate
real-world speech. In real conversations, sentences are often incomplete and
not fully grammatically correct. Fragmented sentences replicate this in the text
to make conversations seem more natural. Cutting off a speaker is another
aesthetic feature known as aposiopesis.
Example: “After the suspect… Well, you’ve read the court documents. After the
heinous crime was completed, the suspect fled the scene.“
The intentional over-exaggeration of a statement to create a more intense
or over-the-top effect; usually not meant to be taken literally.
This is yet another aesthetic feature used to create strong feelings or evoke an
emotional response in readers. If it is unexpected or used in a mundane
situation, it may also be humorous.
Example: “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!” is a commonly used example of
hyperbole. It is not meant to be taken literally and may even be humorous,
particularly if it is said by someone who is not hungry at all.
An object, person or object that symbolises something larger such as a
complex or continuous theme or motif.
This is often seen in ‘hero’ or main characters who are used to symbolise certain
broader ideas, values and motifs.
Example: Harry Potter is framed for readers as an icon of perseverance, courage
and destiny while also serving as a consistent reminder of the importance of
friendship and teamwork. As ‘The Boy Who Lived’, he is also an icon within the
world of the novels themselves as a constant reminder of hope and goodness
in spite of evil.
Words that evoke an idea or mental image of something, most often
achieved through the use of figurative or descriptive language.
Imagery is commonly used to describe settings or characters in vivid detail. It
ensures that readers have a very clear idea of what is occurring and how the
setting and characters (such as their clothing) appears.
Example: John Steinbeck is the king of imagery: “She had full, rouged lips and
wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up. Her fingernails were red. Her hair hung in
little rolled clusters, like sausages. She wore a cotton house dress and red mules,
on the insteps of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers” (Of Mice
and Men).
When one text makes reference to another text; may be in the form of an
This may be an obvious reference to another text, or the reference may be made
in a more subtle way. Allusion, another aesthetic feature, is often used to make
reference between texts in a subtle and nuanced way. It adds depth of meaning
to the text that would be absent otherwise.
Example: The main plot and events of Disney’s The Lion King has many parallels
to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. This adds depth of meaning to the light-hearted story
and allows it to convey complex ideas that would otherwise be absent.
Whenever a person or character says something or does something that
departs from what the audience expects them to say or do.
Irony is often associated with both tragedy and humour. Humorous forms of
irony occur when a character breaks what is expected of them or describes
themselves as the opposite to reality. Commonly used in dialogue.
Example: “What a beautiful day” is ironic if it is said to describe a rainy, gloomy
Language Choices
Refers to individual word choices based on connotations, as well as the use
of several other aesthetic features to build unique characters.
Very common in characterisation and dialogue. Having a character use slang,
colloquial language creates a different effect than if they were to use highly
formal language. Similarly, a shy, timid character will speak differently than an
overly extroverted, confident one.
Example: “Chuck us a beer mate!” has very different connotations to “Pardon
me, would you be so kind as to pour me a beverage?” Although both express
the same idea, these dialogue options would not be said by the same characters.
When an object, character or idea is described as something else to convey
a deeper sense of meaning that would otherwise be lost.
Metaphors are one of the most common aesthetic techniques and are used to
create many of the others on this list. They directly associate one thing with
another by saying that something literally is another. As a result, they are often
not meant to be taken literally.
Extended metaphors appear consistently throughout a text (e.g. in The Love
Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot creates an extended metaphor in yellow fog
that smothers London). Very common in poetry such as this.
Example: “The sun was a toddler insistently refusing to go to bed: It was past
eight thirty and still light” (Fault in Our Stars, John Green).
Metonymy is a figure of speech in which something is referred to by the
name of something closely associated with that thing or concept.
Metonymy is seen very often in everyday conversations.
Example: In “Swear allegiance to the Crown”, the Crown is used in place of the
King or Queen of England. This metonymy is also used in place of the
government of England, the UK or even Australia and is common in legal
The strength or force of a particular word or phrase; low modality words are
weak or passive while high modality words are forceful or demanding.
High modality words would be used by characters giving speeches or by
teachers who are trying to get the attention of their class while low modality
words may be used in a library or amongst friends.
Example: “We could leave soon” is low modality and may be used amongst
friends or family. “We must leave now” is high modality and may be used in an
Mood may refer to the emotional state of mind of a person or character,
or to the overall atmosphere of a story or event.
Mood is similar to atmosphere, though it tends to have more of a focus on the
emotional or mental aspects of a situation or character’s state of mind. It is often
used to indirectly express the attitudes, values and beliefs of the author.
Example: “Why, darling, I don’t live at all when I’m not with you” (A Farewell to
Arms, Ernest Hemingway). Here, readers instantly appreciate the amount of love
one character is expressing to the other and a solemn, romantic mood is
A motif is a repeated pattern — an image, sound, word, or symbol that
comes back again and again within a particular story.
Motifs almost always reflect the overall message or central idea of a text. They
are very common in poetry where repeating or extended metaphors and other
aesthetic features are used to carry a motif throughout the poem.
Example: In William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies, the conch is a repeated
symbol which represents the ongoing motif of civility, order and democratic
engagement. As the boys begin to resist the constraints of the democratic
process, the conch’s power wanes.
What is left out of a text — missing scenes, fades to black, events and ideas
implied in passing; may also be omission of particular words.
Omissions may be of entire events, scenes or ideas or they may instead by
simply omissions of certain words or phrases. The audience is left to fill in the
blanks which leads to a sense of ambiguity and increases audience engagement.
Example: At the end of a scene, such as a fight scene, tensions may be high
though in the very next the characters may be acting civilly. Thus, the audience
is left to fill in the blanks. Words may also be omitted: “And he to England shall
along with you.” Here, the audience fills in the implied “go” after the “shall” to
complete the sentence.
Onomatopoeia is the process of creating a word that phonetically imitates,
resembles, or suggests the sound that it describes; allows the reader to
‘hear’ what is occurring.
The words can often become made-up words as they are designed to represent
the sound that is made. This allows readers to actually ‘hear’ what the characters
are hearing.
Example: Bang, crash, eek, oof, whoop, gargle, zap, pitter-patter, etc.
A figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in
conjunction; creates a strange or complex idea that makes sense as a
Oxymorons add an additional level of detail or meaning to the concepts
discussed. They are most often used deliberately to draw attention to a
particular concept or idea and to create drama for the reader. They may also
rarely be formed unintentionally.
Example: The phrase “living dead” is often used to describe zombies. While
living and dead are seemingly contradictory, the entire phrase as a whole makes
sense and adds an additional layer of complexity and detail to the creatures it
is describing.
Where coordinate ideas are arranged in phrases, sentences, and
paragraphs that balance one element with another of equal importance
and similar wording.
The repetition of sounds, meanings, and structures serves to order, emphasise,
and point out relations. There are differing levels of complexity of parallelism:
two singular words could be used that have a slight variation in meaning, or
three or more similar phrases may be used to create a powerful, full idea.
Example: A simple example is “overtake and surpass”. Here, two words with
similar meanings are used in succession to create a more complete description.
A more complex example is: “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready
man, and writing an exact man” (Of Studies, Francis Bacon).
Pathetic Fallacy
The attribution of human feelings and responses to inanimate things or
This is a form of personification in which feelings and emotions are emphasised
and is very common in poetry. It may used to change the overall mood or
atmosphere of a particular scene — a gust of wind can be framed as either
spooky or comforting.
Example: “The wind whispered through the trees as if to calm the infant’s
nerves.” Here, the wind is given the human attribute of whispering and it is
implied that it has a sense of concern for the baby. This attribution of feelings
and emotions is a great example of pathetic fallacy.
The attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to
something non-human; inanimate objects appear to have life and/or
Like pathetic fallacy, this may be used to change the mood of a scene and is
also very common in poetry. It assists in creating deep and impactful imagery
as readers experience the nature of inanimate objects in a way that they can
relate to.
Example: “The sun’s light danced on the surface of the water.” Here, the light is
given the human attribute of dancing which allows readers to better imagine
how the scene appears.
Rhetorical Question
A question that is asked without the intent of receiving an answer; the
answer is often obvious.
If the answer is not obvious, rhetorical questions are often used to make readers
think deeply about a topic to arrive at the answer on their own. They may also
be used in dialogue with an obvious answer in the characterisation of an overenthusiastic or socially awkward character.
Example: A king who is displeased with their meal may ask their servant, “What
do you call this?” The king doesn’t want an answer to the question; they’re
communicating their disappointment.
Where a story or event takes place. Authors can describe a setting to
include geographic location, time, weather, and environment. It may
change or remain the same throughout the narrative.
Settings are more than just ‘where things happen’. They also provide readers
with greater insight into the events of the story and allow them to connect with
what the characters are experiencing.
Example: Teen dramas are often set in high schools or small suburban towns
while fantasy novels are often set amongst mystical castles and bucolic
A specific form of alliteration in which the letter ‘s’ is repeated within a
phrase or sentence.
Adds a particular rhythm to sentences or phrases that may create a cold, harsh
hissing sound or a soft, soothing sound depending on word choice.
Parseltongue (Harry Potter) is largely based on sibilance.
Example: “Sarah’s silly sister swallowed her sweet.”
When two unlike things are compared using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’ to draw
parallels between them.
Similes are one of the most common aesthetic features. Unlike metaphors, they
do not directly imply that something is exactly the same as another, but focus
more on the comparison. As a result, the two things being compared remain
separate. Avoid cliché similes like “cold as ice” or “as blind as a bat” as these can
distract the reader and detract from your description.
Example: “Watson struggled to open the case, his hands trembling like the
foliage of the trees lining the road.” This simile is not cliché but unique and
adapted to the specific circumstances of the text. As a result, it adds depth and
assists readers to understand the character’s emotions.
The use of words or images to represent more complex concepts, people,
objects, or events.
Similar to icons, though symbolism is often at a more micro scale. It can be used
often and throughout a text to represent many different things such as
relationships, values, attitudes and beliefs.
Example: The colour red can be symbolic of positives like passion, devotion or
love. It can also represent darker themes such as infidelity, evil or death.
When a term for a part of something is used to refer to the whole, or vice
versa; synecdoche is a form of metonymy.
Like metonymy, it is seen often in everyday conversations. It differs from
metonymy in that synecdoche requires an actual part or component of
something to refer to the same thing whereas in metonymy the word used to
refer to the thing of interest only has to be closely related to it.
Example: Common examples of synecdoche are boots for soldiers like in “boots
on the ground”, wheels for cars like in “I just bought a new set of wheels”, and
suits for businessmen like in “the suits are coming to do the yearly audit.”
An ongoing and persistent message or moral of a narrative that is often
applicable to readers’ own lives; there can be more than one theme.
Themes recur again and again throughout a text. The ultimate intent of the
author is to leave readers with a new perspective on the overall theme or themes
of their work that is applicable to the readers’ own lives.
Example: Themes of The Lord of the Rings include: ‘good vs evil’, ‘pride and
courage’, ‘fate and free will’, ‘gain and loss’, ‘death and immortality’ and many
📝 Stylistic Devices
Form is the style in which a particular text is written in; it is based on the
type or genre of the text, the context, and the author’s personal style.
Form includes the type or genre of the text (gothic, comedy, action, fantasy, etc.)
as well as the sentence structures, language choices, film types and poetic styles
(haiku, free verse, etc.) the author implements. It is often influenced by the
prevailing context at the time the text was written.
Example: The epic poem Beowulf and the more modern Game of
Thrones (George R. R. Martin) both explore similar themes, and both fall into the
fantasy genre, though their form and the style in which they are written differs
Frame Narrative
A ‘story within a story’. The main narrative is told or recalled by someone
in a secondary or ‘outside’ narrative; it also includes characters telling
stories to other characters.
Frame narratives are common both in film and in written texts. In some cases, a
story may be told within a story that is within yet another story. It adds depth
and piques readers’ interest in the main narrative as new insights and reflections
may be added as it is told or recalled.
Example: The story of the film Forrest Gump is narrated by Forrest himself as he
is sitting on a bench in a park. Most of the story is in the past as he is reflecting
on past events, though the ending of the film reverts to present time as he
leaves the bench to find Jenny.
When two characters, ideas, themes, etc. are brought close together in
order to compare and contrast the two.
Generally, juxtaposition is used to elucidate differences between two
contrasting characters, ideas, themes, etc. though in doing so readers may also
become more aware of the similarities between the two seemingly completely
dissimilar things. It can be used as an aesthetic feature, though the QCAA classes
it more as a stylistic device which is evident if two or more major themes or
motifs are juxtaposed throughout a text.
Example: Good and evil, light and darkness, acceptance and isolation, wisdom
and foolishness, wealth and poverty, and many more are all potential themes
that may be juxtaposed within a text as a stylistic device that encourages readers
to acknowledge the differences between them.
Linear & Non-Linear
Describes the overall method used to tell a narrative.
A linear narrative moves forward in time without jumping between different
time periods — events occur in chronological order. A non-linear narrative may
instead jump between different time periods — events occur out of
chronological order. This can increase readers’ engagement by creating a sense
of intrigue or add depth to a character’s characterisation by allowing readers to
gain insight into past significant events in the character’s life.
Example: Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino) and Citizen Kane (Orson Welles) are
both popular films with non-linear narratives.
Literary Patterns
Relates to specific, repeating aspects of a writer’s work or the framework
from which the text is created.
There are many different literary patterns that may be present in a specific
writer’s work. For example, the consistent repetition of metaphors throughout,
an abundance of imagery, consistently very short or very long sentences, or
even how plot events play out in each chapter or in the novel as a whole are all
literary patterns. They are often unique to specific authors or texts.
Example: The story arc is a very common literary pattern that involves an
inciting incident, rising action, a climax, falling action, and a resolution. Many
authors use this framework as a base to build upon as it keeps readers engaged
with the narrative and maintains their excitement to learn what comes next.
Literary Styles
Refers to the overall style of the author — relates closely to which aesthetic
features they use, and how they choose to use them.
The specific, unique style of the author generally lends itself to the genres and
themes of the novels that they write. For instance, a highly descriptive author
that frequently uses imagery, figurative language and emotive language is likely
to write excellent romantic novels. Also relates to the author’s preferred
sentence length, syntax and form.
Example: John Steinbeck’s literary style involves highly descriptive metaphors,
imagery and figurative language to describe settings. His focus on settings and
extremely minute details aids readers in feeling truly immersed in his work.
Narrative Viewpoint
From what viewpoint or perspective the story is being narrated from; also
known as narrative perspective.
First-person narrative viewpoints can allow readers to more easily empathise
with a character, though it limits the author to places and times when the
character was present. Third-person omniscient narration (when the narrator
knows all and focusses on many different characters and events) frees the writer
to reveal complex, non-linear plots. A third-person limited perspective (where
narration is focussed upon a single character) combines aspects of both firstperson and third-person omniscient narration.
Example: First-person narration: “As I reached the bridge, I slowed my pace so
that I could smell the familiar scent of the dandelions.” Third-person
omniscient: “As the man reached the bridge, a small group of children began
playing hopscotch in the park nearby.” Third-person limited: “The man reached
the bridge and slowed his pace slightly so as to allow the familiar scent of
dandelions to enter his nose.”
Rhetorical Devices
Techniques or language used to convey a point or convince an audience of
a particular concept or point of view.
Rhetorical devices consist of any aesthetic or stylistic device that is used to
convince the reader of a concept or point of view, or that evokes a certain
emotional response in readers. Rhetoric appeals to viewers in four ways:
Logos: an appeal to logic.
Pathos: an appeal to emotion.
Ethos: an appeal to ethics.
Kairos: an appeal to time.
Example: Many aesthetic features may be classed as rhetorical devices if they
are used to convince a reader of a specific point. Some include alliteration,
personification, pathetic fallacy, rhetorical question, synecdoche and anaphora.
The QCAA simply notes repetition as an effective rhetorical device.
Sound Devices
Used in poetry, plays and texts to emphasise various sounds; they allow
writers to amplify certain sonic elements for a desired effect.
Include the repetition of chosen vowel or consonant sounds, manipulating units
of rhythm, and mimicking sounds that occur naturally in the world outside of
the text. Many aesthetic features are sound devices, and as a whole they form
this stylistic device that is used throughout the text as a whole.
Example: Alliteration, assonance, sibilance and onomatopoeia are all sound
devices that authors may employ, and together they form this stylistic device.
Many different sound devices may be used throughout a text.
Syntax (Sentence Length & Form)
The specific ways in which a sentence is constructed — long, short,
compound, complex, fragmented, simplex, etc.
The syntax or control of sentence length and form impacts readers at the
sentence level. Shorter, punchier sentences are more direct and indicate
urgency or importance while longer sentences are more formal, slower and can
create an engaging rhythm. By varying the syntax of sentences throughout the
text, the author can maintain reader engagement. In contrast, continuously
using just long or just short sentences can fatigue readers.
Example: “One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a
revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The
object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of
power is power. Now you begin to understand me” (1984, George Orwell). Here
we see one long sentence followed by three shorter sentences that drive home
three main, memorable points for readers.
Text Structures
Relates to the ways in which the text is organised and presented; linked
closely to the genre of the text.
Different genres lend themselves to, and are sometimes defined by, specific text
structures. For example, poetry is defined by certain structural elements that are
not seen in other texts such as specific formatting, frequent rhyming and other
poetic conventions. Linear or non-linear narratives (how events are presented in
time), and frame narratives may also be considered different text structures.
Example: Poems are short, unique texts that fit within a specific text structure.
Within poetry, there are many more specific text structures such as haikus with
their characteristic 5, 7, 5 3-line pattern.
Visual Devices
Used in film to frame certain scenes, characters, or events in particular
ways — include editing, angles, close-up vs distance shots, framing,
lighting, etc.
Different visual devices are used in different ways. For instance, a high-angle
shot above a character creates a sense of weakness or defeat while a low-angle
shot emphasises a character’s height, power and dominance. Low, dark lighting
may be used in a horror film or in a sad scene while bright lighting may be used
in a joyous scene. They are used consistently throughout a film to draw the
viewer’s attention to specific elements or concepts.
Example: A high-angle shot above a character creates a sense of weakness or
defeat while a low-angle shot emphasises a character’s height, power and
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If you’re looking for more QCE English and Literature articles, check out these
additional posts:
QCAA Past Papers, Guides & Resources
How To Smash Your QCE English & Literature External Exams
QCE English & Literature Analytical Essay Writing Guide
How To Make A Quote Sheet For QCE English & Literature (Example
Thanks a lot for reading, and best of luck with your studies!
~ Zen Tutes