There are different types of writing techniques that are rarely used in the expression of varied concepts. This article will explore the use of various writing techniques in the works of famous essayists that include Joan Didion, William Hazlitt, KC Cole and the 14th century Japanese Buddhist monk known as Yoshida Kenko.
There is a thesis statement: Writing techniques such as cliché-busting, netting, the use of figurative language and portmanteau words, and thesaurus coping they challenge the common perception and use of different ideas in common literature.
Cliché-busting refers to the three-part practice of replacing an audience’s connection to fixed ideas with the aim of helping one’s readers to suggest new definitions of a given concept.
Cliché-busting is typically used to specify that a certain cliché may have been so overused that it has even begun to be used outside of the right context. Moreover, this definition of cliché-busting has a limitation as it does not identify the fact that even if they may be overused, clichés retain the truth that makes it logical for them to be used on a regular basis in everyday speech.
In KC Cole’s essay on Uncertainty, she observes: “Faith can be said to be certain; however, knowledge has always been known to be somewhat elusive. Some answers are like particles… everywhere and also nowhere…”.
At the start of this statement, KC Cole acknowledges the certainty of faith. She then notes that knowledge has qualities that tend to be elusive. In her very next statement, though, she uses a cliché-buster by asserting that the answers of knowledge and faith are like particles in that they may be nowhere or everywhere. In stating this, she is admitting the fact that the cliché that the answers to questions concerning knowledge or faith can easily be found is not necessarily accurate.
The writing technique known as ‘netting’ holds that lists can be used to detain forces that remain undetected beneath the ordinary hustles of everyday life. Through the use of netting, an individual will seek to communicate meaning by means of a large number of relevant expressions. In this case, the focus is on disclosing the motivation behind William Hazlitt’s ‘On the Pleasure of Hating’ and Joan Didion’s ‘On Self Respect’.
In her essay ‘On Self Respect’, Didion states, “…character – which is essentially the willingness to take over responsibility for one’s life- operates as the place from which self respect arises…without it, a person will eventually chance upon the final turn of the screw: one runs away to find oneself, but finds nobody at home…”.
In this example of netting, the aspect of specifying is represented by expressions such as character, responsibility and respect. The netting element of ‘sizing’, which is meant to enhance readability, is represented by descriptive clauses like ‘a person will eventually chance upon the final turn of the screw.’ The netting aspect of ‘sorting’, which focuses on positioning elements with the aim of generating shocking clashes is represented in the expression ‘…one runs away to find oneself, but finds nobody at home…’.
Thesauruscoping involves highlighting the contrasts between different synonyms to reveal existing nuances of the concept in question. In KC Cole’s essay on Uncertainty, she states:
“I think most people do not begin to comprehend uncertainty: which is why we run from it screaming. What we want, and believe we can have, are guarantees. He loves me; he loves me not. Plucking petals off daisies or reading the stock market ticker, we all want to know for sure…”.
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In these statements KC Cole first intimates that the expressions ‘what we want’ and ‘what we believe that we can have’ can be used interchangeably. They are phrases that operate as synonyms of each other. Moreover, when Cole later uses the expression ‘plucking petals off daisies’ to represent ‘what we want’, and ‘reading the stock market ticker’ to represent ‘what we believe that we can have’, she introduces the reader to a new way of perceiving different interpretations of these two groups of expressions. What we want is akin to ‘plucking petals off daisies’ in that it is not necessarily based on factual realities. That means that what we want may not necessarily have any effect on real life situations or our immediate circumstances. On the other hand, ‘what we believe that we can have’ is based on a practical assessment of existing choices, and the reflective consideration of what we may be able to take or receive in the existing circumstances. Cole’s use of the phrase ‘reading the stock market ticker’ reflects a more down-to-earth and balanced analysis of what we believe that we can have, as it is not based on abstract dreams but realistic calculations.
Using Figurative Language, Slang, or Portmanteau Words
The use of figurative devices in literature is important because it allows readers to gain new insight into texts beyond the plain meanings of the assorted expressions and words that have been used. William Hazlitt liberally uses figurative speech in his essay ‘On the Pleasure of Hating’. He notes:
“The pleasure of hating, which compares to a poisonous mineral, consumes the heart of religion, and transforms it into bigotry as well as spleen; it uses patriotism as an excuse for taking famine, pestilence and fire into foreign lands: it makes virtue nothing other than a spirit of censoriousness, and a jealous as well as inquisitorial watchfulness over the motives and activities of other people…”.
In this short text, Hazlitt makes use of a simile (the pleasure of hating is like a poisonous mineral), and a metaphor (hate transforms religion into rankling bigotry). Hazlitt also makes use of personification by noting that “hatred uses patriotism as an excuse for taking famine, pestilence and fire into foreign lands”. In using the term ‘censoriousness’ in the phrase ‘spirit of censoriousness’, Hazlitt also creates a portmanteau word to express the extent to which hatred collectively makes people critical.
The use of extended metaphors can provide one’s readers with a startling picture of what the writer is addressing or referring to. In his musings on uncertainty, the 14th century Japanese Buddhist monk known as Yoshida Kenko stated:
“If man was fated to never fade away like the dews of Adashino, never to disappear like the smoke over Toriyama, how things would lose their ability to move us! The most precious aspect of life is uncertainty”.
In this piece of text, Kenko compares the prospect of humanity vanishing to the dissipating smoke over Toriyama, as well as the dew in Adashino. Yoshida Kenko used this picturesque speech to create visions in his reader’s mind of the value of uncertainty in the limited existence of individual human beings.
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Didion, Joan. “On Self-Respect.” Slouching Towards Bethlehem. New York: Farrar,
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