An author’s use of language is an essential feature of any literary text. Having said that, you may find that the use of language is easier to analyse in some texts and genres than in others. For instance, the creative and careful use of language in poetry is quintessential to the genre. Whereas some novels, especially those written for a young adult audience, may not rely on language as much as other literary features to convey their ideas.

Language can refer to written words on the page, but it could also be applied to visual language (such as that used in Graphic Novels).

Effective analysis of literature requires knowledge and understanding of a range of literary devices that are employed by the authors in their texts. You can find a plethora of information regarding these terms on the internet,  including this comprehensive list, but here are a few essentials to get you started.

Tone: the tone of a poem refers to the feelings the poet (or persona) has towards the subject of their poem. Describing the tone of a poem accurately requires having the right vocabulary, so here is a list to help you. Read more here. Strongly related to tone is diction.

Diction: refers to the specific word choices of the poet. When analysing the poet’s diction, it is often most effective if you find similar words that can be grouped together, as opposed to identifying only one word. Read more here.

Imagery: The description of something using sensory details; i.e. creating an image in the reader’s mind of what’s happening.

Figurative Language: Writing that is not meant to be taking literally (examples include metaphors and personification).  Read more here.

Symbolism: Using one image, idea or object to represent something else. Read more here.

Alliteration: The repetition of consonant sounds in words.

Assonance: The repetition of vowel sounds.

Allusion: An indirect reference to something beyond the text. Read more here.

Personification:  Giving human or living qualities to something that is not living. Read more here.

Onomatopoeia:  Words that when spoken sound like the noise they are describing. Here’s a video (albeit a childish one), that will show you what onomatopoeia’s are.