Rising Action – Figures of Speech, Accumulation

22 September 2012, this blog is about writing in scenes.  I’ll leave up the parts of a novel because I think this is an important picture for any novelist.  I’m writing about the rising action.

1. The beginning
2. The rising action
3. The Climax
4. The falling action
5. The dénouement

I’m looking at symbols in writing literature.  Let’s start with the definition of a symbol:

1. Something that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention, especially a material object used to represent something invisible. See Synonyms at sign.

The concept in art relating to symbols is symbolism.  Its definition follows:

1. The practice of representing things by means of symbols or of attributing symbolic meanings or significance to objects, events, or relationships.

I’ll leave up these definitions.

Lets look at langauge as a symbol.  Authors use language as the paintbrush of their art.  Language itself is a symbol and is used to form symbols.  One of the chief uses of language is called figures of speech.  Here is the definition of a figure of speech:

A figure of speech is the use of a word or words diverging from its usual meaning. It can also be a special repetition, arrangement or omission of words with literal meaning, or a phrase with a specialized meaning not based on the literal meaning of the words in it, as in idiom, metaphor, simile, hyperbole, or personification. Figures of speech often provide emphasis, freshness of expression, or clarity. However, clarity may also suffer from their use, as any figure of speech introduces an ambiguity between literal and figurative interpretation. A figure of speech is sometimes called a rhetorical figure or a locution.

Today’s Blog:  The skill of using language in a large degree comes from the ability to put together figures of speech that act as symbols in writing.

The way I intend to approach is subject is to give a type of figure of speech, classify it, give an example of it, and give an example of how and why you might use such a figure of speech.  Let’s start:

Accumulation is a figure of speech in which a speaker or writer gathers scattered points and lists them together.  Also, a summary of previous arguments in a forceful manner

Accumulation is an addition (adiectio) in the use of a rhetorical operation.

Examples of accumulation:

“A generation goes and a generation comes, yet the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and rushes back again to the place from which it rises. The wind blows south, then returns to the north, round and round goes the wind, on its rounds it circulates. All streams flow to the sea, yet the sea does not fill up.”   (Ecclesiastes, The Old Testament)

“I don’t know how to manage my time; he does.  . . . I don’t know how to dance and he does. I don’t know how to type and he does. I don’t know how to drive. If I suggest that I should get a license too he disagrees. He says I would never manage it. I think he likes me to be dependent on him for some things. I don’t know how to sing and he does. . . .” (Natalia Ginzburg, “He and I.” The Little Virtues, 1962; trans., 1985)

“Now Senator McCain suggests that somehow, you know, I’m green behind the ears, and I’m just spouting off and he’s somber and responsible. Senator McCain–this is a guy who sang ‘bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,’ who called for the annihilation of North Korea. That I don’t think is an example of speaking softly. This is the person who after we hadn’t even finished Afghanistan where he said–‘next up, Baghdad.’ So I agree that we have to speak responsibly.” (Senator Barack Obama, U.S. Presidential Debate, October 7, 2008)

Accumulation in Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” “[Jonathan] Swift uses the device of accumulation to good effect . . . [in] the brief description in the final paragraph: ‘having no other motive than the public good of my country, by advancing our trade, providing for infants, relieving the poor, and giving some pleasure to the rich.’ This series concisely echoes each of the major group of reasons which have been set forth (except the antipapist reasons, which might, from the point of view of the projector, be included ‘in the public good’). It is natural that both instances of accumulation in this essay should occur in the peroration, for recapitulation is one of the standard uses of this section of the speech.” (Charles A. Beaumont, “Swift’s Rhetoric in ‘A Modest Proposal.'” Landmark Essays on Rhetoric and Literature, ed. by Craig Kallendorf. Lawrence Erlbaum, 1999)

George Carlin’s Use of Accumulation I’m a modern man, digital and smoke-free; a man for the millennium.

A diversified, multi-cultural, post-modern deconstructionist; politically, anatomically and ecologically incorrect.

I’ve been uplinked and downloaded, I’ve been inputted and outsourced. I know the upside of downsizing, I know the downside of upgrading.

I’m a high-tech low-life. a cutting-edge, state-of-the-art, bi-coastal multi-tasker, and I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond. . . . (George Carlin, When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?, Hyperion, 2004)

Accumulation is an effective means to make a literary conclusion within a conversation.  It is a very witty means of writing.  I find myself using this figure of speech often within the context of conversations.  The character wraps up diverse conclusions of the conversation into a singular statement.

I this accumulation is very common and a very effective figure of speech.  You should plan to use it often.  It helps prevent confusion for your readers and helps clarify points.  Be cautious in your writing when using accumulation in narrative.  That would be telling and not showing.

To get the most out of this blog and the information I’m passing on to you, you should experiment with the concepts.  Try writing a few accumulations and try using them in your writing.  Try all the different figures of speech I am defining for you–make them yours.

To form a figure of speech, you must apply one of the following four principles of rhetorical operations:

  • addition (adiectio), also called repetition/expansion/superabundance
  • omission (detractio), also called subtraction/abridgement/lack
  • transposition (transmutatio), also called transferring
  • permutation (immutatio), also called switching/interchange/ substitution/transmutation

We’ll see how figures of speech are formed and used from these basic operations.

We’ll move on to more about scenes soon.  I also want to leave myself a note.  I was asked by one of my blog readers to explain how I decide what to tell and what not to tell in my writing.


About L.D. Alford

L. D. Alford is a novelist whose writing explores with originality those cultures and societies we think we already know. His writing distinctively develops the connections between present events and history—he combines them with threads of reality that bring the past alive. L. D. Alford is familiar with technology and cultures—he is widely traveled and earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Pacific Lutheran University, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University, a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Dayton, and is a graduate of Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, and the USAF Test Pilot School. L. D. Alford is an author who combines intimate scientific and cultural knowledge into fiction worlds that breathe reality. He is the author of three historical fiction novels: Centurion, Aegypt, and The Second Mission, and three science fiction novels: The End of Honor, The Fox’s Honor, and A Season of Honor.
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One Response to Rising Action – Figures of Speech, Accumulation

  1. Pingback: 2LD: Accumulation & Adynaton | clmst

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