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Try these techniques to amplify emotion in your writing, part 2

I’m intrigued by the ways writers can show emotion through words and pacing.

Recently, I wrote a post about how author Sigrid Nunez used several literary techniques in A Feather on the Breath of God to show how the narrator of her novel felt distanced from her father, a Chinese-Panamanian immigrant.

Here is another example of how Nunez employed a rhetorical device called anaphora –repeating a word or two in successive clauses or sentences to create emphasis. Nunez also used cliches to represent distance and the lack of understanding and communication the narrator felt with her father.

“Chinese inscrutability. Chinese sufferance. Chinese reserve. I recognize my father in the clichés.”

The distance and tone of sadness continue when Nunez finishes the first chapter of the book with simply a list of the songs her father liked by country singer Hank Williams. Using a list can be an effective tool, and these titles convey a cold, distant feeling and the deep sadness of themes, including loss, loneliness, and unrequited love.

Here are the names of some Hank Williams songs: Honky Tonkin’. Ramblin’ Man. Hey, Good Lookin’. Lovesick Blues. Why Don’t You Love Me Like You Used To Do. Your Cheatin’ Heart. (I heard that) Lonesome Whistle….I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry. The Blues Come Around. Cold, Cold Heart.

If you’re looking for ways to heighten tension and emotion in your writing, consider how you could use these tools and techniques to create impact.

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