Friday, September 28, 2012

Rhetoric, Part Three: Polysyndeton & Simile

by Jill Williamson

Here is my conclusion on rhetoric. I wrote two other posts on the subject. In case you missed them, we first talked about anaphora and amplificationrhetoric. Then we talked about asyndeton, climax, and metaphors. Rhetoric can add a lot of fun to your writing. There are so many more types of rhetoric than I covered.
Click here for a more in-depth list.

Polysyndeton is the use of conjunctions between words, phrases, or clauses. It is the opposite of asyndeton; however the effect of polysyndeton shares a feeling of multiplicity, a never ending list, and a building up with that of asyndeton.

Here are some examples:

I said, 'Who killed him?' and he said, 'I don’t know who killed him but he’s dead all right,' and it was dark and there was water standing in the street and no lights and windows broke and boats all up in the town and trees blown down and everything all blown and I got a skiff and went out and found my boat where I had her inside Mango Key and she was all right only she was full of water. –Ernest Hemingway, After the Storm.
I wanted to help him when he fell, but I couldn’t see, but I couldn’t hear, but I couldn’t feel.
Not only that, but for my sake, for your sake, for the sake of the others like us, and for the sake of every living creature on earth.
The sunset, like an artist’s palette, was a mix of yellow and orange and red and pink and purple and blue.
“Oh, my piglets, we are the origins of war—not history’s forces, nor the times, nor justice, nor the lack of it, nor causes, nor religions, nor ideas, nor kinds of government—not any other thing. We are the killers.” –Katherine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter.
Simile is a comparison between to unlike things that resemble each other in at least one way. A simile can use ‘like’ or ‘as’ to compare.
He strode past Lady Tara and pulled open the door. Carmack framed the doorway like a second gate. Achan patted Carmack’s shoulder as he slipped by. 'Good man.'” –Jill Williamson, To Darkness Fled.
Uncle Vernon sat back down, breathing like a winded rhinoceros –J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
After such long exposure to the direct sun, Mrs. McKennwick’s skin was wrinkled and dry, as a raisin becomes when all the life has left the grape.
Similes can also be used like adjectives:
The girl had a coconut-like smell.

Or to convey what something is not like:
She was nothing like the kind of friend a girl always dreams of having, the kind who will do anything for you and keep any secret.
Your turn! Share one of your own similes or give ploysyndeton a try.

25 comments:

  1. Here's a simile: She tapped the pencil on the table like an extremely nervous drummer.

    Not the best one I could come up with, I'm sure, but I don't have time :( I have tons of school today :P

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  2. A Polysyndeton I recently used (without knowing it was called like that ;))
    'I already told you.' He said, heavily sighing. 'Lea wasn't at the boat house, nor Nadia, nor Avelyn, nor Ina. It was just Luke and me.

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  3. Oh I love similes. Put them in my writing all the time... Hmmm.

    The puppy scampered along the floor, rolling like a ball.

    What? I love puppies. :D

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  4. -Orrin smoothed down his wizard-like robe and composed himself.

    -The wind rushed over her ears, sounding like beating wings—wait, that wasn't the wind.

    hehe, a couple of similes from my own work-in-progress. ;)

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    1. I really like that second one, Dakota. Makes me want to look up and see what it is!

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  5. Here is a simile from my WIP:

    Mom pointed to the skirt, Dad pointed inside, and Elena stomped her foot like a three year old not getting their way

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    1. Ahh, toddlers. I remember my child doing that. Sadly, she still does, and she's 8!

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    2. Well... Elena is 14 and she is living with her aunt and uncle and is wearing a immodest skirt. The POV is from the daughter still sitting in the car, watching the whole thing.

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  6. Hm... When I wanted to have a little kid make a huge run-on sentence, I did something that was *like* a polysyndeton, but I didn't just use one conjunction.

    "Dad! Joel fell in the creek, and now he’s all wet and he wants me to get his towel but I dropped that in the creek and now he says he’ll break my bat and I need that bat because I’m having a baseball game and Flannery won’t let me borrow his because the last time I borrowed his bat I broke it, and I told him that that was when I was six but he doesn’t care because he says that I didn’t forgive him for stealing my honey bread and that was years ago too, but he stole my honey bread on purpose and I broke his bat accidently and so I said I’d forgive him but he doesn’t believe me because he thinks I’m just forgiving him so he’ll give me his bat!"

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    1. LOLOLOL Soooo funny! I love that! I can just picture that little kid gasping for breath after running his mouth 20 million miles per hour... :D

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  7. here's a sort of polysyndeton:

    My eyes narrowed suspiciously as I followed the feet to the ankles to the shins to the knees to the stomach to the chest to the chin to the face.

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    1. Hey, I really like the rhythm of that!

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  8. Hey this could so help me in my analyzation of JFK inaugural speech! When he says "the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved." That rhetoric essay has been killing me, but these little rhetoric lessons are helping!

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  9. I like the polysyndeton! How does this sound? "Why should I forgive you? You lied about who you were and you lied about why you were running away and you lied about being poor and you lied about me being in danger!"

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  10. I just thought of a simile also: "Suddenly, everything fell into place. It was as if a giant torch burned in the middle of the room, welding together every person's past to create one clear picture."

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    Replies
    1. I love that one, Allison! Nice!

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    2. Oooh! I like, Allison. Well done!

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Disagreement is welcome. Rudeness is not. Please be considerate of each other!