Writing is essentially an act of bringing words together into rich and vigorous lines and paragraphs with the aims of expressing a writer's ideas and capturing a reader's attention. The writing process is complex and demanding, chiefly because so many variables require control. Fortunately, there are several resources that a writer can employ to achieve his goal, which include figurative language, allusion, symbol and imagery.
1. Figurative language:
When we say someone eats "like a horse", or "like a bird", we are using a simile, that is, a comparsion marked out by a specific word of likening - "like" or "as".
When we omit the word of comparison but imply a likeness - as in the sentence, "That hog has guzzled all the champagne" - we are making use of metaphor.
When we speak of "forty head of cattle", or ask someone to "lend a hand" with a job, we are using synecdoche, a figure substitutes the part for the whole.
When we speak of a man much interested in "the turf", we are using metonymy, or the substitution of one term for another with which it is closely associated.
Antithesis is a device for placing opposing ideas in grammatical parallel.
Irony is a verbal device which implies an attitute quite different from (and often opposite to) that which is literally expressed.
Hyperbole (or willful exageration) is a favorite of irony.
The pun, or play on words (or paronomasia) may also be serious or comic in intent. Oxymoron is a figure of flat contradiction.
A paradox is a statement which seems absurd but turns out to have rational meaning after all. A conceit is a far-fetched and ingenious comparsion.
Images are often described as "mental pictures"; it is more accurate to say they are verbal representations of something capable of being visualized. Personification is the attribution of human qualities to an inanimate object or abstract concept. A fable represents beasts behaving like humans; a parable is brief story with strong moral application.