Rising Action – Figures of Speech, Synchysis

10 November 2012, this blog is about writing in scenes.  I’m focusing on the tools to build 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 and define 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.

Synchysis is an interlocked word order, in the form A-B-A-B; which often display change and difference. This poetry form was a favorite with Latin poets. They are often employed to demonstrate such change within the event in which they are situated; on occasion, there are synchyses within a poem which were not intended but happened to be written in such a way.

A synchysis may be opposed to chiasmus, which is in the form A-B-B-A.

A line of Latin verse in the form adjective A – adjective B – verb – noun A – noun B, with the verb in the center (or a corresponding chiastic line, again with the verb in the center), is known as a golden line. An example of this is aurea purpuream subnectit fibula vestem, “a golden clasp bound her purple cloak” (Virgil, Aeneid 4.139): the line translates word-by-word as “golden purple bound clasp cloak” (endings on the Latin words indicate their syntactical relationship, where in English word order would do the same job).

A synchysisis an addition (adiectio) in the use of a rhetorical operation.

Examples of synchysis:

Abraham George Lincoln Washington

“I run and shoot, fast and accurate.”

“Matter too soft a lasting mark to bear” —Alexander Pope, “Epistle II. To a Lady” (1743)

Young man, boy old.

Golden happy ring girl.

Synchysis: You can see from the examples that this figure of speech can be used for more than poetry.  It doesn’t have great legs, but it is usable.  Just the idea of this type of figure of speech and the opportunity to try a few might give you an idea of how to use it in your writing.  I keep a book by my bed and in my briefcase.  If I get an idea of a turn of phrase, I put it in the book and use it somewhere in my writing.

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 synchysisand 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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