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What Is the Difference Between Literary Elements & Devices?


With the enormous amount of literary terms thrown around, it can be easy to confuse certain terms with others. Literary devices and literary elements are often placed in the same category. However, it is important to know how to distinguish between the two.

Literary Devices Definition

A literary device is any linguistic technique that produces a specific effect in writing, for example any narrative style, figure of speech or plot mechanism. Literary devices are the heart and soul of every expression, bringing words to life. This can vary from narrative and story-writing to drama and poetry.

Literary Elements Definition

Literary elements are commonly described as the components of a literary piece. They are not used intentionally by writers, but they merely take place in all the different types of literature and are identified and taken out by the reader.

Writer's Literary Devices

Literary devices are understood as constructions in the text, deliberately used by the writer, usually in an attempt to create some kind of artistic meaning in the piece. Examples might include metaphor and hyperbole, metonymy, irony, overstatement, oxymoron, polysyndeton, symbolism, paradox, epiphany, asyndeton, cliffhanger and Deus ex Machina.

Reader's Literary Elements

Literary elements are derived and used by the reader to analyze and understand any work of literature. Literary elements are not techniques used by the writer. Theme, characterization, conflict, and setting are some of the many literary elements that can be found. They can be about the setting of the book, the plot or the characters.

About the Author

Angeliki Coconi started writing in 1999 with the theater comedy "Loop," produced in Athens. In 2001 she wrote and produced another comedy, "Modern Cinderella." In 2006 she was awarded a Master of Science in literature from the University of Edinburgh. In 2009 Coconi obtained the Postgraduate Certificate in Screenwriting from Napier University of Edinburgh.