Writing with Force and Flair
Exposure to rhetorical figures, once central to writing pedagogy, has largely fallen out of favor in composition. This chapter reintroduces today’s students to the stylistic possibilities of figures of speech, drawing on an analogy to figure skating to illustrate how writing communicates with an audience through stylistic moves. In an accessible discussion of how and why to use figures, it provides an overview of the most common tropes (e.g., metaphor, hyperbole) and schemes (e.g. isocolon, anaphora) and offers brief definitions and examples to illustrate their variety and ubiquity. It discusses the situated nature of writing to acknowledge that while even academic writing employs rhetorical figures, not all figures are appropriate for every genre and context. The essay concludes with a set of style-based exercises to supplement a writing course. These include maintaining a commonplace book, analyzing texts, imitating passages, and practicing techniques of copia for stylistic flexibility. Some resources are recommended for further study.