Source: The New Strategy of Style by Winston Weathers and Otis WinchesterThis
was the first style-centric handout I gave my Composition classes years
ago. It shares many of the styles found on the other style
sheets, and some of these I later pulled off for The New Strategy of Style handout.
1. The Repetition Sentence (with key word repeated)
this to add emphasis to a word and to make an otherwise drab sentence
have style. Instead of "If you don't like yourself, you won't get
along with people," write
2. The Repeated Word Sentence (Epizeuxis)
- If you don't like yourself, you won't like other people.
add emphasis, rhythm, and focus to a sentence, repeat a word with the
repetitions in close proximity. What part of speech being
repeated doesn’t matter.
3. The Repeated-Word Sentence (with Extended Definition)
- He was a decent man with common moral, common values, and common sense.
By repeating a word several times, it's possible to suggest compulsiveness, anger, boredom, and irritation.
4. The Repositioned-Adjective Sentence
- He strove to be a sophomore, succeeded as a sophomore, was proud to be a sophomore, and behaved as a sophomore for three years.
Instead of placing the adjective before the noun, position it after the noun like some foreign languages do.
Some religions have disdain for all things worldly.
5. The Rhetorical Question
- I sing the body electric. – Walt Whitman
sentence was originally a statement, but after conversion to a
question, it takes on a grander tone. It can be asked in a
positive or negative form but actually remains a statement with an
obvious or expected answer.
6. The Interrupted Sentence (The Explanation)
- Are we not men with responsibilities?
This type of sentence can draw attention to the portion following the interruption or act as a brake on the sentence rhythm.
7. The Interrupted Sentence (The Aside)
- They have learned - that is, they have experienced - a great deal.
parenthetical statement that by digressing from the main point adds
increased importance to what follows as well as a new tone.
- A typical teenager (opposed to the atypical type I haven't met) shuns homework.
8. The Structured Series (Balance)
structure and length in a series of words (three or more items long) is
an isocolon. Between two items, it is a balance.
These can be single word modifiers, phrases, or clauses.
9. The Compound-Balance Sentence
- Life is full of fear, empty of hope, and devoid of dreams.
By balancing a compound sentence, you increase the effect.
- If I want success, I work hard; but if I want failure, I do little.
10. The Structured Series (Tricolon)
of the more famous stylistic devices, it consists of three parts, which
can be words, phrases, clauses or sentences. Caesar's "I came, I
saw, I conquered" and Lincoln's "of the people, by the people, and for
the people" are examples.
had belched molten lava, lightning had struck in dry grass, winds had
rubbed dead branches against each other until they burst into
flame.” -Loren Eisely
11. The Structured Series (Four-Part)
This is a four item series of equal unit length.
- Charm, wit, taste, eloquence--all those things generally lacking in most men flourish in Roden.
- London was hideous, vicious, cruel, and above all overwhelming. - Henry James
12. The Symmetrical Sentence
usually short sentence features a balance like that of a seesaw with
the verb being the balancing point. The words on either side are
equal in length and usually short, and the balance can be intensified
by using the same part of speech or words that sound the same.
Linking verbs work well as balancing points, but action verbs work also.
- Crissy is spacy.
- Democracy ends autocracy.
13. The Negative-Positive Sequence
phrasing a sentence in a "not this, but that" format, you give the
second half special importance and acknowledge the contrary argument .
- A student does not have to believe in homework, but he must believe in education.
14. The Positive-Negative Sequence
By giving the positive first, the negative is stressed.
15. The Antithesis (an-TITH-e-sis)
- A student must believe in education, but he does not have to believe in homework.
A balance of opposites can emphasize contrasts.
- The smartest students make the worst teachers.
- Live or die, pass or fail, graduate or drop out, I will not give up on education.
- That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. –Neal Armstrong
- Let us speak less of the threat of Communism and more of the promise of freedom. –Richard M. Nixon
16. The Antimetabole (an-ti-me-TAB-o-le)
A two- part series with two elements composes one part of the balance and their reverse forming the second.
- But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. - George Orwell
- Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.
- Man must put an end to war, or war will put an end to man. – John F. Kennedy (speechwriter?)
- When the going gets tough, the tough get going. – Folk saying
17. The Asyndeton (a-SYN-de-ton)
eliminating the conjunction in a series of items, you make the items
seem to occur as a single event rather than make the last seem more
- A girl giggles in the hallway, a light flickers in the room, a boy snores in the corner.
- He was a winner, a hero, a legend.
18. The Polysyndeton (poly-SYN-de-ton)
This is similar to the asyndeton except that each item in a series is separated by a conjunction.
- It was a hot day and the sky was very bright and blue and the road was white and dusty. – Hemingway
- It was neither the place nor the time nor the man nor history that produced the tragic event. – Phil Carman
19. The Anaphora (a-NAPH-or-a)
By beginning each item in series with the same words, you intensify their meaning and emphasis.
- Love is strange- it can't be measured, it can't be weighed, it can't be bought.
shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we
shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the
hills. –Winston Churchill
20. The Epistrophe (e-PIS-tro-phe)
involves ending each time in a series with the same words. Its
effect is to illustrate the common denominator between items.
- The cars do not sell because the engineering is inferior, the quality of materials is inferior, and the workmanship is inferior.
will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you, walk with you, and so
following: but I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray
with you. -Shakespeare
21. The Symploce (SYM-plo-ce)
This is a combination of the anaphora and epistrophe. The items in the series begin and end with the same words.
- I was born an American; I will live an American; I shall die an American. - Daniel Webster
- He was born a Catholic, he was raised a Catholic, he will marry Catholic. – Malcolm Fortson
22. The Anadiplosis (a-na-di-PLO-sis)
This can be achieved in several ways:
1) By ending one item in a series with the words that begin the next
2) By ending a phrase or clause with the words that begin the next
3) By ending a sentence...
- The effect is slow motion and continuity, continuity and overlapping, overlapping and emphasis.
23. The Circular Sentence (Epanalepsis, ep-a-na-LEP-sis)
- This is a good way to start a composition- by beginning and ending a clause or sentence with the same words.
his life he traveled throughout the world meeting new and different
people but discovered that he had not discovered himself during his
- Year chases year, decay pursues decay (two epanalepses). –Samuel Johnson
24. The Circular Sentence (Modified Epanalepsis)
Rather than employ the same word, some form of the word is used.
- Different ages have answered the question differently. - Virginia Woolfe
25. The Figurative Sentence (Simile)
comparing an idea with a highly picturable object, person, or event, it
becomes imaginable. Using like or as to compare two things
creates a simile.
- Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting. - Robert Frost
26. The Figurative Sentence (Metaphor)
is basically a simile without like or as. “Our mortal life is a
rough sea” is an example. By being subtler and simply implying
the comparison, an implied metaphor is possible. The rough seas
of our mortal life often threaten our happiness.
27. The Figurative Sentence (Reification)
means making an abstract idea into a concrete thing. In the
example, English literature, an abstract idea becomes fire, a concrete,
- The winds … blew
English Literature, which had been merely smoldering for generations,
into a blaze of genius. - J.B. Priestly
28. The Figurative Sentence (Personification)
This is comparing a nonliving or inanimate object with something alive.
off, a little yellow plane scuttles down a runway, steps awkwardly into
the air, then climbs busily, learning grace. - Robert Penn Warren
29. The Complex Figurative Sentence
This sentence features several clauses full of figurative types.
the ignorance of our youth drowns in a pool of knowledge, when our
tires no longer bark our defiance on city streets, then we know
adulthood has squashed us beneath cleated shoes. - Roden
30. The Alliterative Sentence
repeated use of the beginning sounds of words can make a sentence more
memorable. Limit alliterated words or the effect can be comical.
- All beauty comes from beautiful blood and a beautiful brain. - Walt Whitman
31. The Rhythmical Sentence
is a sentence with a more obvious flow and cadence than most
sentences. Use it for special effect but avoid lengthy use.
- Curiosity is a form of desire. - Marchette Chute
32. The Metrical Sentence (Four Beats)
is a sentence with regular, patterned accents. In a poem it
would be iambic tetrameter, four duh-DUM beats in a row.
- The sentence is a single cry. - Herbert Read
33. The Metrical Sentence (Various Beats)
Rather than strictly follow one metrical pattern, more than one is followed.
May in Venice is better than April, but June is best of all. - Henry James
(Trochaic and iambic)
A Handbook of Rhetorical Devices, by Robert Harrishttp://www.virtualsalt.com/rhetoric.htm (Still good as of 9-18-08)
These have fancy Greek names, but their definitions won't be Greek to you with very little study..
portions of a sentence follow the same grammatical pattern, these
portions have parallelism. The portions, which can be any parts of
speech, can as short as two nouns with the same number of adjectives
and participles modifying them…
Or entire clauses…
- The red, broken bicycle and the yellow, weathered tricycle are symbols of my youth.
the morning of the first day I found the necessary strength, but in the
evening of the last day I lost the requisite
could be called “reverse parallelism.” The pattern set by the
first group of words is reversed by the second group to form a sort of
- He labors without complaining and without bragging rests.
- The honest man toils by day, but by night toils the man dishonest.
a rhetorical question, a hypophora is a question raised by the writer
that he or she actually answers. Raising a question the reader
might be considering and answering it in several sentences is a solid
an objection and answering it, permits an argument to continue moving
forward while taking into account points or reasons opposing either the
train of thought or its final conclusions. Often the objections are
- It is usually argued
at this point that if the government gets out of the mail delivery
business, small towns like Podunk will not have any mail service. The
answer to this can be found in the history of the Pony Express . . .
consists of a brief statement of what has been said and what will
follow. It might be called a linking, running, or transitional summary,
whose function is to keep the discussion ordered and clear in its
then, would be my diagnosis of the present condition of art. I must
now, by special request, say what I think will happen to art in the
future. --Kenneth Clark
is an explicit reference to a particular meaning or to the various
meanings of a word, in order to remove or prevent ambiguity. To make
methanol for twenty-five cents a gallon is impossible; by "impossible"
I mean currently beyond our technological capabilities.
helpful phrases for distinctio include these: ______ here must be taken
to mean, in this context [or case] ______ means, by _______ I mean,
that is, which is to say.
40. Apophasis (also called praeteritio or occupatio)
asserts or emphasizes something by pointedly seeming to pass over,
ignore, or deny it. This device has both legitimate and illegitimate
uses. Legitimately, a writer uses it to call attention to sensitive or
inflammatory facts or statements while he remains apparently detached
- We will not bring up the
matter of the budget deficit here, or how programs like the one under
consideration have nearly pushed us into bankruptcy, because other
reasons clearly enough show.