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HSC English Language Techniques

The best way to do well in the HSC English course is to familiarize yourself with language and literary techniques. These techniques, also known as literary method, device and motif, are structures that can be used in literature to convey meaning.


Type: Poetic
Repeating the identical letter or sound at the beginning of closely connected words.


Type: Personification
To apply human-like characteristics to animals or objects.


Concise statement that contains a cleverly stated truth or fact.


Type: Background exposure
Story that precedes events to add meaning to the current circumstances.


Type: Plot
An unresolved ending that draws reader to a future episode.


A metaphor associated with metaphysical poetry that pushes imagination to portray something indescribable.

Dramatic visualization

Type: Descriptive
Representing a character or object with abundant details to make a scene more imaginatively present to the audience.


Type: Literary genre
A sudden revelation or insight.

False documents

Type: Literary genre
A fiction form of something that is real, but actually fake documents.

Fictional fictional character

Fictional existence of characters that appears in a larger work of fiction, such as past family members or the mentioning of an early king of a country.

First Person narration

A text shown in the view of a character but written in the first person.


Changing the time sequences to take characters back to the past.


Also known as prolepsis, a scene that temporarily jumps the narrative to the future.


Type: Plot
Giving hint of a events that will take place later.

Frame story

Type: Framing
A main story that is set into a series of shorter stories.


The flaws of a tragic hero that leads to their downfall.


To form mental images in a scene to make the audience understand better.


Type: Setting
Gradually exposing background facts about the story's world.


Type: Setting
Authors putting a concentrated amount of background material, all in a go, usually in the form of conversations.

In medias res

Type: Narrative hook
Beginning of a story that takes place in the middle of an event.


Type: Contextual
The use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning.


Type: Contextual
Using two aspects, such as characters, words or situations to form a contrast.


Words in a figure of speech that stands for the thing itself.

Narrative hook

Type: Narrative hook
The opening of a story that steals the reader's attention.


Exaggerating something.


Type: Poetic
Sound words.


Type: Contextual
A term made of two words that are of each other's opposite.


Type: Contextual
A phrase that describes an idea composed of concepts that conflict.


Type: Genre
A ridicule of something serious.


Type: Personification
To use comparative metaphors and similes to give living characteristics to non-living objects.

Plot twist

Type: Plot
An unexpected turn in the plot.


Type: Plot device
A device based on an argument that an agreement's intended meaning holds no legal value.

Repetitive designation

Type: Plot device
A repeated reference that first appears insignificant, but later intrusive.

Self-fulfilling prophecy

Predictions that, because are made, comes true.

Side story

A background narrative that explains the world of the main story.

Story within a story

Type: Framing
A story told within another story.

Stream of consciousness

Type: Literary genre
A technique where the author writes their thoughts as they come.


Aspects of a feature that is used to represent something else.

Ticking clock scenario

Threat of impending disaster.


The attitude of a work.


Type: Contextual
A softening of a theme.

Unreliable narrator

Type: Plot device
The narrator of a story that is non sincere and introduces a bias narration.

Word play

Sounds of words used as an aspect. ("Mr E" for "Mystery")

Writer's voice

A combination of structural aspects of an author's style of writing.