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July 1, 2015

Figurative Language: Create A Mood By Using Consonance And Assonance

Figurative LanguageFigurative language conjures up images in the readers mind.

It makes your writing snap with drama, crackle with suspense and pop with excitement so that your novel stays with the reader long after the last page.

On this page we will investigate how to use the language of consonance and assonance to create a mood in your writing.

The Fall Of The House Of Usher

During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher.

The Fall Of The House Of UsherIn the opening sentence of The Fall of The House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe he uses consonance and assonance, the recurrence of similar sounds, to set the scene and establish the mood.

The words dull, dark and soundless day sound like the beating of a funeral drum.

The other thing that Poe does is to use a long sentence structure. Long sentences seem to plod on forever like the horse he is riding down that singularly dreary tract of country.

The Dead

The DeadYes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

In this section from the last paragraph of James Joyce’s The Dead we see how the figurative language of consonance and assonance can create a musical and hypnotic effect to the writing.

Here Joyce repeats words and phrases such as falling..falling softly…softly falling until they give the reader the impression of snow actually falling.

The Vagabond King

The Vagabond KingMagda. She had what I so desperately needed. In the whorls of her palms, she held the secrets of the spinning universe. It was she who set the moon in motion and at her passing the sun bowed down low. Magda. Her name, she said, was Magda and, over the months, like a sorcerer’s spell her name became to me an incantation which, if uttered harshly, or too quickly, or in incorrect circumstances would cause the stars to fall from the sky and the mountains to perish into bowls of swirling sand. But it seemed to me that Magda was her public name, a name she wore like a piece of clothing or a mask for everyone to know her by. It was not her true name, it could not be, for she was the dear daughter of the universe itself and that which can be spoken of is not eternal.

In this paragraph from The Vagabond King I used figurative language in a similar technique to portray the main character’s mystical infatuation with an older woman.

By repeating the name Magda several time the paragraph develops a prayer like quality. The long and flowing sentence structure also adds to the lyric effect.

So when you are trying to create a mood in your novel give this type of figurative language a try and make your novel sing.


For more information on how to write a novel, publish it and market it online, click here.

About Jim Conway

Author and Udemy Course Instructor. About me; http://www.e-novel-advisor.com/about-me.html Udemy; https://www.udemy.com/user/jimconway2/

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