Category Archives: Chicken or Egg: A Love Story

Literary Devices from A to Z – Brought to you by the letter U

 

 

 

is for Understatement

 

 

 

Understatement is when something important is minimized in order to draw attention to it.

In Chicken or Egg: A Love Story, Paula is convinced she must kill Daniel before he kills her. It’s not until the two of them get together and begin to talk that they realize there is more to the story than Nigel is telling either of them. At one point, Nigel squirrels Paula away in a secluded cabin owned by his company. Because the cabin used to be Daniel’s before Nigel used time travel to essentially steal the company and all its holdings, Daniel also decides to hole up at the cabin until he can figure out a way to dodge Paula. The two of them wind up at the cabin together and go for a walk in the woods and Daniel says,

“So, I’m curious…You seem like a nice enough girl; what makes you wake up one day and decide you want to kill someone like me?”

Here, the nonchalance of Daniel’s question is the understatement. That he can so calmly ask a question like that of Paula, that he can find humour in a situation like this, underplays the danger which  serves to underscore the “which came first” element implied by the title of the work.

Do you every use understatement in your conversational day to day speech? In your dialogue when you write? Do you find it a helpful literary device or is understatement the bane of your existence? Weigh in  with your opinion in the comments section below.

Literary Devices from A to Z – Brought to you by the letter Q

 

 

 

is for (Rhetorical) Questions

 

 

 

Q is another one of those weird letters for which I really couldn’t find a device, so I’ll have to fudge it (just a bit). Q is for questions of the rhetorical variety, better known as rhetorical questions, a question that needs no answer, but is used to prompt the reader to think about a topic as if s/he were required to answer it. Readers and writers should be able to make the distinction between an ordinary, information-seeking question and one that is rhetorical in nature.

In Chicken or Egg: A Love Story, Nigel and Paula have one of their first dates (it’s about time travel and this is only a first date in a timeline–there is a first date in each timeline), a couple’s yoga class:

The class began tamely enough, most of the poses being singular in nature, but at a point about two-thirds through the class, the instruction changed. They began facing each other, feet touching, holding hands, and gently rocking their partners on their sitting bones. Determined to avoid his gaze, Paula stared at their hands instead. Nigel’s hands were strong, warm, and dry. She felt his quiet strength as they leaned forward together then back.

When at last she looked at his face, she felt the burn of his scrutiny. Embarrassed at its intensity, she looked away. What was happening here? Since when was Nigel attracted to her? Since when did she find him attractive? Did she even find him attractive?

Next pose—lunge, leg behind and touching partner’s, stretch backward until partner’s hand is grasped.

“Ready?” Nigel asked.

“I was born ready,” she answered. Why was she turning this into a competition?

They enacted the pose, stretching until their hands met. When they did, Nigel’s touch was gentle, his skin soft to the touch.

Next was child’s pose for Paula, hands grasping Nigel’s ankles. Nigel was to exact downward-facing dog, hands resting at the small of her back. As she stretched, her shirt rode up and she felt the full warmth of his palms as they made contact with her exposed skin. She imagined what it might feel like for him to slide his hands down a little further, cup her buttocks and squeeze. What is wrong with you, Paula? she scolded immediately. This is Nigel we’re talking about here. Since when do you think of him in that way?

In this example, rhetorical questions are used to show Paula’s indecision over her feelings for Nigel.

Do you think this method of questioning works? Weigh in with your comments below.