Annotated list of literary techniques
- Author surrogate, a character who acts as the author's spokesman.
- Autobiographical novel, tales of the author's life as seen by the author in fictional form; sometimes significant changes are made. An example is James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
- Back-story provides extra depth to the story by anchoring it to external events, real or imagined.
- Breaking the fourth wall is acknowledging to the reader or audience that what is being presented is fiction.
- Constrained writing, in which artificial constraints, such as "no words containing the letter 'e'", are imposed.
- Epistolary novel, novel in the form of letters exchanged between the characters. Examples include Samuel Richardson's Pamela, Tobias Smollett's Humphry Clinker, Bram Stoker's Dracula.
- False documents, fiction written in the form of, or about, apparently real, but actually fake documents. Examples include Robert Graves' I, Claudius, a fictional autobiography of the Roman emperor Claudius; and H. P. Lovecraft's Necronomicon, a fictional book of evil that appeared frequently in horror fiction and film, written by both Lovecraft and his admirers.
- First-person narrative, the narrator tells their own tale
- Flashback, general term for altering time sequences, taking characters back to the beginning of the tale, for instance.
- Foreshadowing, hinting at events to occur later.
- Frame tale, or a story within a story, where a main story is used to organise a series of shorter stories.
- Historical novel, story set amidst historical events, pioneered by Sir Walter Scott in his novels of Scottish history. Protagonists may be fictional or historical personages, or a combination.
- Magic realism, a form particularly popular in Latin American but not limited to that region, in which events are described realistically, but in a magical haze of strange local customs and beliefs. Gabriel García Márquez is a notable author in the style.
- Narrative, fiction written as if it were related to the reader by a single participant or observer.
- Omniscient narrator, particular form of narrative in which the narrator sees and knows all
- Overstatement, exaggeration of something, often for the purpose of emphasis
- Parody, ridicule by imitation, usually humorous, such as MAD Magazine
- Pastiche, using forms and styles of another author, generally as an affectionate tribute, such as the many stories featuring Sherlock Holmes not written by Arthur Conan Doyle, or much of the Cthulhu Mythos.
- Picaresque novel, episodic recounting of the adventures of a rogue (Spanish picaro) on the road, such as Tom Jones or Huckleberry Finn.
- Roman a clef, a "novel with a key", that is, whose characters and plot are related to real-life happenings
- Satire, "An attack on wickedness and folly", as Samuel Johnson called it, such as 1984 or Brave New World. Not necessarily humorous.
- Shared universe is a shared back-story.
- Story within a story
- Stream of consciousness, an attempt to portray all the thoughts and feelings of a character, as in parts of James Joyce and Virginia Woolf.
- Word play, in which the nature of the words used themselves become part of the work
Authors also manipulate the language of their works to create a desired response from the reader. This is the realm of the rhetorical devices.
Last updated: 10-31-2004 16:31:49