How to use a Figure of Speech in your writing

 T = Tropes

  • A figure of speech
  • A word, phrase, expression, or image that is used in a figurative way, usually for rhetorical effect.

As writers we use tropes all the time.

We all learned about the most common types of tropes in grade school, metaphor and simile.


To describe somebody or something of a word or phrase that is not meant literally but by means of a vivid comparison expresses something about him, her, or it, e.g. saying that somebody is a snake.


A figure of speech that draws a comparison between two different things, especially a phrase containing the word “like” or “as,” e.g. “as white as a sheet”.

But here are other tropes also used in writing.


A figure of speech in which the word for part of something is used to mean the whole. Ex. Writing is my bread and butter


A figure of speech in which a word is applied to two others in different senses (e.g.,caught the train and a bad cold ) or to two others of which it grammatically suits only one (e.g., neither they nor it is working ). Ex. He lost his coat and his temper.


One part of speech is exchanged for another. Ex. I’m mapping our progress.


Wordiness, the use of overly long or indirect language in order to say something. Ex. It is not that James is welcome or otherwise, or that he is sometimes here or not. I do wonder, though, if he might be thinking what it’s all about. (= I don’t like James)


Personification is a figure of speech in which a thing, an idea or an animal is given human attributes. Ex. Look at my car. She’s a beauty.


Use of understatement to intensify an idea. It usually involves denying the contrary. Ex. The ice cream was not too bad.


Juxtaposition of two contradictory words. Ex. To win is to lose.

 The Flash Saga of Rachel Continues:

Rachel was of a mind that the only way to get anywhere was one step at a time. Today she was very grateful for her Nikes. Maybe the walk wouldn’t be too bad, or too long, but she wouldn’t bet on it. As far as she could see nothing but hot asphalt and dry dust greeted her.

On the up side, if a broken down pickup truck with a crazed psycho at the wheel stopped and offered her a lift, she had her Sidearm to persuade him the error of his ways. She smiled, the thought almost cheered her up a little. There were a few perks to being a Texas Ranger. Shooting scumbags ranked at the top. Rachel smiled as she looked down the highway scouring the horizon for pickups.

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13 thoughts on “How to use a Figure of Speech in your writing

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