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welcome to Technical Aspects of literature

The Muse Of Literature welcomes you to the exploration of the technical aspects of literature.


About this feature

The technical aspects of any written work are its properties and techniques as seen from a literary and language perspective.

All writing incorporates and is made up of technical elements like meter, form, sound (rhyme), and figures of speech. Techniques and language elements like these are common to all fields of writing; all writers use them, deliberately or subconsciously. Any particular work can by analyzed, understood, described, and classified by the combination of the writing elements it incorporates.

In this feature, The Muse Of Literature explores writing and writings from a technical and design point of viewstructure, organization, tone, style, language constructions, and all the other technical aspects that make for coherent, expressive, and effective writing, or its opposite.

It seems obvious to assert that writers, to be good at their craft, must understand the technical aspects of the written materials they create. But the value to readers of an understanding and appreciation of the writer's craft may not be as obvious.

Writers seriously study the technical aspects of writing for two reasons: 1) they write what readers read, so they must please readers and conform to their demands, and 2) all writers are readers; they wear a reader's hat. For these reasons, good writers are usually good readers.

Writing and reading are the result of a partnership between a writer and a reader; they share common aims. If reading fiction, a reader seeks to immerse himself in the tale that is spun and the world of characters, places, and events created by the work; he justifiably shuts out other considerations; the writer writes to envelop the reader in this world. If reading expository or non-fiction prose, the reader wants to absorb as much of the written material's information content as possible, as easily as possible; and the writer shares this goal.

There are, of course, differences between writers and readers. Whereas writers usually consciously try to write well—to follow the rules and techniques for good writing—most of the time most readers read a work without considering the way in which is written. That is all to the good, for dissecting writing is not the chief reason that most people read; they read to understand, learn from, or enjoy the material they are reading. In such cases, analyzing a piece of writing while reading it can be a distraction.

Another reason why it's a good idea not to analyze a work while reading it is that analysis is a demanding activity in its own right, one that deserves a reader's full attention. It makes good sense either to read a work for its intended purpose or to study its construction, not to do both at the same time.

Nevertheless, The Muse contends that a reader who understands writing usually gets more from reading than one who does not, whatever the writer's objectives may be, whatever the nature of the reading material.

If such a reader reads fiction or other kinds of creative writing, he is likely to be better able to immerse himself in the tale that is spun and its world of characters, places, and events if he has developed an understanding of the technical aspects of writing and knows how to analyze what he reads; he gets more pleasure from the reading experience, feels more, learns more than a reader who has not done so.

If a reader who reads non-fiction or expository writing has the skills to analyze what he reads, he is likely to acquire more information in a shorter period, read more accurately, and exhibit greater understanding of the material than one who does not have these skills.

This exploration of the technical aspects of literature is not intended specifically for writers; it is intended as much for readers as for writers. These pages are as much about the craft of reading as they are about the craft of writing; and they are as much about writing and reading everyday written materials as they are about writing and reading literature.

Here, The Muse explores the technical aspects of literature from all these two perspectives. The aim is to encourage everyone to recognize the role and importance of writing technique, and to develop and apply their analytical and technical skills to everything they read or write.


what is literature?

As used in connection with technical aspects of literature, the term literature describes all types of writing; it includes virtually any kind of printed material. The Muse takes the word literature to mean literature spelled with a lower case "l" as well as Literature spelled with a capital "L." Examples of literature:

  • Circulars, leaflets, or handbills.

  • Poems and plays.

  • Creative writing.

  • Expository writing.

  • Fiction and non-fiction.

  • Particular works by specific authors.

  • The entire body of writings of a specific language, period, people, etc.

See The Muse's definition of Literature: click here.

technical elements of literature

The technical elements of a written work are its language and linguistic properties as seen from a literary perspective. Technical elements include such considerations as how these literary and linguistic elements are formed and used.

The canon of all literary works exhibits many, many different kinds of technical elements. Examples of the technical elements that a literary work might exhibit are: meter, form, sound (rhyme), and figures of speech.

Different literary compositions that exhibit the same or similar combinations of technical elements are said to belong to (or fall into) well defined literary groups or classes according to the different kinds and types of technical elements they contain—different meters, different forms, different sound schemes, figures of speech, etc. These different groups or combinations of literary properties go by a variety of literary names, among them forms, genres, and periods.


The Muse Of Literature invites you to explore the following technical elements of literature:

literary terminology

Many of the technical elements of literature are cited, defined, and explained at The Muse's feature called Glossary Of Literary Terms.

The Muse Of Literature is pleased to offer visitors a literary glossary containing definitions and descriptions that are universally used to discuss a variety of different kinds of reading and writing subjects, including but not limited to subjects that arise in expository and literary writing. Use the glossary to look up the meaning of hundreds of literary terms.

The glossary of literary terms is located at The Muse Of Literature's page called Literary TerminologyA Glossary Of Literary Terms.

  • Explore the subject of literary terminology and learn about The Muse's Glossary Of Literary Terms at the page called Literary Terminology—A Glossary Of Literary Terms: click here.
  • Look up the meanings of literary terms now: click here.

Literary form

The technical structure of a literary composition is called its literary form.

A literary form of a composition is its organization, arrangement, or framework of a literary work; the manner or style of constructing, arranging, and coordinating the parts of a composition for a pleasing or effective result. Groups of compositions that share the same literary structure belong to different classes of literary form.

  • Explore literary form at the Muse Of Literature's feature titled Literary Form: click here.

Rhymethe Sounds of Poetry

Poems are a particular kind of literature called poetry. Every poem has specific poetic structure of its own called its form. Different kinds of poems have different poetic structures or forms. Groups of poems that have the same structure belong to the same class or type of form.

Many different kinds of poems exhibit a kind of literary and linguistic property called rhyme. Rhyme is one of the many kinds of literary and linguistic properties that some (not all) poetic structures and other kinds of literary structures (other than poems) exhibit.

As a composition, a rhyme is a poem or piece of poetry that exhibits identity of sound in some or all of its parts. As something aural you can hear with your ears or in your mind, a rhyme is the sound of a poem agreeing with itself.

So intertwined are poetry and sound, it's correct to assert that there can be no verse without sound. The sound of rhyme is so fundamental to verse, all poems exhibit rhyme or identity of sound in one form or another and to one extent or another.

In the feature called the Sounds Of Poetry—About Rhyme, The Muse explores the technical aspects of rhyme.

about the technical aspects of rhyme

Does it come as a surprise to learn that the sound of poetry is a technical element of literature? If so, that may be because most of us don't think of rhyme as a technical subject; sound has too elemental and emotional a role to play in poetic constructions to think of rhyme that way. Also, poetry fanciers know that poets don't don't write poetry from formulas the way architects design buildings; they've come to expect something else from them.

About the universality of rhyme

Of course, rhyme is not limited to poems. Rhyme permeates writing, speaking, and communication of all sorts. In literature it is not only an essential ingredient in rhyming verse, it has a major role to play in plays, blank verse, free verse, and even occasionally in prose. In ordinary, non-literary writing, it appears in slogans, jingles, commercials, and in other kinds of communications. And of course, all songs with lyrics are poems, even popular songs, Rap, Hip hop, etc. Many folk songs originate as poems set to music. Rhyme plays a role in most of the arts.

Despite its universality, however, The Muse has chosen to explore rhyme under the rubric of poetry because, in a sense, all media that incorporate rhyme are poetic. Moreover, rhyme is at the core of what happens in poems; it's more exposed, vital, and intense in poetry than it is in any of the other arts; it's central.

Considerations like these have led The Muse Of Literature to explore the subject of the technical aspects of rhyme under the rubric of the World Of Poetry rather than under the rubric of Technical Aspects of Literature, Prose, Writing, Music, or some other category of the arts.

  • The Muse invites you to explore the technical aspects of rhyme now at the page called The Sounds Of Poetry—About Rhyme: click here.

form, genre, period

Literary forms, genres, and periods are groups or collections of authors and their writings that have much in common with each other. Groups of literary works share:

  • Form, if they exhibit similar organizations, styles of construction, arrangement of parts, or frameworks.
  • Genre, if they exhibit similar themes and subjects.
  • Period, if they exhibit common cultural, societal, ideological, technological, historic, and other ideas, beliefs, and world views because they have been written in the same window of time.

Forms, genres, and periods are examples of some of the literary and linguistic properties exhibited by literary compositions.

Authors can be grouped according to the forms and genres of their works and the periods in which they wrote. Groups of authors and works like these can be described and defined in part by specifying the literary and language characteristics they hold in common. Some of these defining characteristics fall under the rubric of technical aspects of literature.

You may be interested in exploring global literary and language characteristics such as literary forms, genres, and periods at the following features offered by the Muse Of Literature:

  • Explore technical characteristics of forms at the feature called Literary Forms: click here.
  • Explore technical characteristics of genres at the feature called Literary Genres: click here.
  • Explore technical characteristics of genres at the feature called Literary Periods: click here.

about writing

If you are interesting in writing as distinguished from readingif you want to explore what it's like to cross over the fence, put on your creative artist's hat or expository writer's hat and produce written fiction or non-fiction materials yourself—see what The Muse Of Literature has to say at the World of Writing page.

  • Explore  writing. Visit The Muse Of Literature's World of Writing page: World of Writing.

writing right

Writing Right is an ETAF app product that makes it easy to catch and correct all sorts of writing mistakes. Fix them while you are writing or editing. It also helps you to a better writing style.

The Writing Right Whitepaper is a no-cost whitepaper that explains the theory behind Writing Right and behind writing right.

ETAF recommends

There is a superabundance of books and other materials about how to write, but not many written from the perspective of the reader who wants to gain insight into how others write. Here we introduce a few such items that are part of the ETAF-Amazon Collection.




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