Epigraph.

Hello everyone. Welcome back to #theorythursday.

Today I am going to talk about what an epigraph is.

Let’s dive in.

What is an epigraph?

Have you ever opened a book to find a phrase or a quote at the beginning of the story?

Most people have probably read many epigraphs without realising that there is a term for that quote that was at the beginning of a book.

That quote at the start of the book wasn’t just a quote, it was an epigraph.

An epigraph is a quote, phrase, or sometimes even a paragraph, found at the beginning of a book, article, or document.

Why do authors include epigraphs?

An epigraph can set the tone for what the text is about. Usually an epigraph can help establish the theme and tone of a text, and sometimes the epigraph can even help to contextualise the work.

Why is this important?

I personally love when a text has an epigraph, particularly if the author has used a quote at the beginning of their work because in my opinion, this gives readers some insights into the author. When we see that an author has chosen to quote someone, this tells me that this quote has resonated with the author somehow, enough that they chose to use it in their own work. There is something about seeing who someone chooses to quote that can tell us a lot about them, it tells us what kind of writers that the author admires, and it can also give hints about what the style of the work might be like, or whose style of writing the author enjoys.

I think that knowing the term epigraph simply expands one’s knowledge of literary terms.

If you are ever at a pub quiz, and one of the questions asks, “What is the quote at the beginning of a novel called?”, now you know the answer. You’d be amazed by what might come up in a pub quiz, the last time I participated in one, the theme was horror and my knowledge of gothic literature certainly got us a few points.

One of my favourite epigraphs can be found in Neil Gaiman’s Coraline.

Gaiman begins his novel with a quote from G.K. Chesterton.

Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.

G.K. Chesterton.

This has been Theory Thursday. I hope you enjoyed it.

If you were writing a novel, what would your epigraph be? I’d love to know.

Kate xo.

Word Order.

Hello everyone. Welcome to another #theorythursday discussion.

Last week I talked about acrostics. Check that out if you haven’t already. Today I am going to talk about another aspect of grammar. I am going to talk about word order and why it is important.

Let’s dive in.

What does word order mean?

Word order refers to the way words are traditionally arranged in a sentence.

The most common or standard word order that one will come across in English is Subject, Verb, Object.

You can break this down into letters so that it is easier to remember – S-V-O.

I am going to create a few examples.

The man (subject) parked (verb) his new car (object) in his driveway.

The girl (subject) ran (verb) the race (object) and won.

The subject is what the sentence is about, which is why the subject tends to come first in the word order. The verb usually follows because a verb is a doing word and so it makes sense for the verb to follow the subject because that tells us what the subject is doing.

Here is another example.

The dog (subject) digs (verb) holes (object) in the garden.

Why is word order important?

Word order is important because word order is what leads to a sentence making sense.

You can say “The dog eats dinner at seven”, because grammatically that makes sense. You cannot say “Eats the dog at seven dinner”, because in this order, these words are messy, they don’t make much sense although you can still find meaning in those words.

When the word order is correct, the sentence will make much more sense and it will be easier to read. It will be cleaner. It will be easier for a reader to follow.

It may seem obvious or insignificant or even a little boring, but word order is one of things we naturally learn and sometimes we don’t know there is a name for it. When we learn to speak and when we are in school, we are taught to compose sentences and then when we get older, we do this naturally and we might not even realise that word order is in fact an aspect of grammar, and an important one too. If the word order is changed, then an entire sentence’s meaning can be changed and it is important to be able to recognise this as a reader.

This has been Theory Thursday. Happy Friday Eve.

Kate xo.

Acrostics.

Hello everyone. Welcome back to #theorythursday.

I bought myself The Complete Illustrated Works of Lewis Carroll a few weeks ago. It is a beautiful book and I’m so happy to have it on my classics shelf. 

The illustrations were done by John Tenniel and I would argue that his illustrations are just as iconic as Carroll’s writing. 

I have a framed drawing of Alice sitting at the Hatter’s tea party and I would suggest that this image is one of the book’s most recognised images, alongside the image of Alice standing before the Cheshire Cat as he peers down at her from his tree. 

The book features Carroll’s stories, verses, comic writing, puzzles and acrostics. I have really enjoyed reading the acrostic poems in this book so I have decided that today I would talk about acrostic verse. Let’s dive in. 

What is an acrostic poem? 

An acrostic poem is a poem in which the first letter of each line spells out a word. 

The first letter of each line might spell out a name, a message, a word, or sometimes even the alphabet. 

Here’s an example of an acrostic poem in which the first letter of each line spells a word. 

(Brief disclaimer – I am making up this example myself, and I will not claim to be a poet, however I like to create my own examples when I am explaining things.)

Summer is on its way. We will sit in the sun. 

Under the trees, in the shade, we will talk, laugh, drink, and smile. 

Nothing will ruin our days, we will be happy, wild, and stress free. Summer is on its way. 

The first letter of each line spells the word sun. 

There are different types of acrostic poems. 

Usually the first letter of each line is what spells out the message; however, the letters can be found anywhere in the poem so it becomes almost like reading a code. The letters will always be capitalised and sometimes they can be found at the end of a line or in different places in a line. 

Here’s another made up example. 

In summer, the air is sweet and people are Kinder. 

In summer, the Air is hot and as we walk the beach the breeze is filled with salt from the sea. 

In summer, we Talk all night because it does not matter how much or how little we sleep. 

In summer, everyonE smiles a little brighter and laughs a little louder. 

If you look at this example I made up, you’ll see that I’ve spelled my name as the letters I’ve chosen to highlight spell Kate. 

Why is it important to learn about acrostic verse? 

I think that an acrostic poem is a really fun poem to learn about. I always say that the more you know, the more you understand, and the more you understand, the more you enjoy something so I think that learning about acrostic verse simply widens one’s knowledge of literature and literary forms, but I also think that learning about acrostics is just fun. It is a creative form as you have to think carefully about how you’ll phrase certain things and where you will place your letters in order to spell out your chosen name, word, or message. I think it is really interesting to be able to read in the code that an acrostic verse creates as if you didn’t know why these seemingly random letters were capitalised then you could miss out. I think that knowing about acrostics and how they work can add to your enjoyment when it comes to reading the works of someone like Carroll because the writing is whimsical and nonsensical and this use of acrostic only adds to that. 

I hope you enjoyed today’s Theory Thursday discussion. I really enjoyed writing it. If you have any questions then please do let me know. 

Happy Friday Eve everyone. 

Kate xo.

Active Voice.

Hello everyone. Welcome back to #theorythursday. I feel recharged after my break and I am so excited to keep moving onwards and upwards. I hope you all have a great month.

Today I am talking about the active voice in a text so let’s dive right in.

What is an active voice? What does this mean?

I have spoken before about verbs, nouns, adjectives, and how in a sentence there is usually a subject. When a sentence is written in the active voice, this means that the subject of that sentence will be performing an action.

I will now create an example.

“The dog chased the ball.”

“The waiter brought the drinks.”

Why is this important?

When an author chooses to use the active voice, it is usually so that it is clear to the reader who is taking action in the piece. Using active voice when writing is also a helpful tool because sentences tend to become shorter which makes them easier to follow.

I personally think that using active voice can give a character more agency. For example, if I were to write something like this – “The girl ran from her assailant as fast as she could, determined to escape unharmed.” – In this very short sentence, I have given a female character a lot of agency, she is running from someone, she is determined to get away, this demonstrates that she is very brave and if I were a reader, reading something like this in a text, I would hope that she does in fact get away.

This has been Theory Thursday. If anyone ever has any questions, please do let me know.

Happy Friday Eve.

Kate xo.

Past, Present, and Future Tense.

Hello everyone. Welcome back to Theory Thursday. I took an unplanned break last week as it had been an extremely busy day and I will never publish anything on Katelovesliterature.com that I am not 100% happy with. 

There is a #theatretrip post coming up soon as last week I went to see the incredible Les Misérables in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. 

Today I am talking about the concept of tense in English literature so let’s dive in. 

What does the term “tense” mean? 

In English grammar, the term “tense” refers to time. Texts will operate in categories of time, the past, the present, and in the future so the novel will take place in the past-tense, the present-tense, or the future-tense. 

Past, present, and future are the three main tenses. There are different categories within each tense, however that is a more complex topic for another day. 

The past-tense is used to describe things that happened before the present. The present-tense is used to describe things that are happening in the current moment, and the future-tense is used when talking about things that will happen in the future. 

I am going to make up some examples below. 

Examples of past-tense:

“I walked to the shop yesterday.” 

“Three years ago, we moved house.” 

“I lost my purse last week.”

Examples of present-tense:

“I am reading a very good book.”

“It is raining very heavily so I can’t go outside at the moment.”

“I am doing my homework while my dinner is in the oven.”

Examples of future-tense:

“I am going to sing in the talent show next week.”

“Tomorrow I am going to the library to study.”

“I will buy a new jacket when I go shopping next week.”

Why is it important to understand the concept of tense? 

I think it is important to understand the concept of tense because tense tells readers when something happens in a narrative. The use of tense can connect the past to the present, or it can inform us about the future. Deciding which tense to write in is an important decision as it can impact how a story is told. Understanding tense means that you understand another literary technique and having a broad understanding of a wide range of techniques enhances our understanding and enjoyment of literature in general. 

This has been Theory Thursday. I hope you enjoyed it. Do you have a favourite tense? Do you prefer narratives that take place in the past vs.in the present for example? Let me know. 

Kate xo.

Back to Basics: Adjectives.

Hello everyone. Welcome to another #theorythursday. Last week I talked about the concept of suspending one’s disbelief because I was so inspired by seeing The Lion King in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. Check that out if you haven’t already. 

Today I am continuing on with my #backtobasics series. I’ve already talked about verbs and nouns, so be sure to read those discussions too if grammar is something that you want to brush up on. 

Today I am going to be talking about adjectives. So let’s dive in. 

What is an adjective? 

An adjective is a word that is used when an author wants to describe a noun. When I was talking about verbs, I said that the easiest way to explain what a verb is would be to say that a verb is a doing word. I would say that the easiest way to explain what an adjective is would be to say that an adjective is a describing word so in a sentence, the adjective would come before the noun. 

I’m going to make up an example. 

“The beautiful necklace sparkled in the case.” 

In this sentence, the necklace is the noun, because a noun is a person, place or a thing. A necklace is a thing, so the adjective in this sentence is the word “beautiful”, because this word is describing the necklace. 

Other examples of adjectives can be found in sentences such as: 

“The red door opened with a loud creak.” 

In this sentence, the word “red” is the adjective because this tells us that the door, the noun, is red. 

An adjective can also be used when an author is describing how many there are of something. 

An example of this can be found in a sentence such as “It looked like there were a thousand stars in the sky.”

In this sentence, the word “thousand” is the adjective because it is telling us how many stars there are, and stars are things, so the word “stars” is the noun. 

Why is it important to know what an adjective is? 

I say the same thing every time when I am talking about basic aspects of grammar such as nouns, verbs, and now adjectives too. It is important to understand these basics because they can be found so often in writing. When you are a student, it is important to know what these terms mean so that you can recognise nouns, verbs, and adjectives in passages of writing. I also think that refreshing one’s memory on certain terms can be really helpful in general, because when we learn the basics in school, it can often be assumed later that we remember everything perfectly, but sometimes that isn’t the case, which is why I’ve decided to break things down in a back to basics approach. 

This has been Theory Thursday. Happy Friday Eve.

Kate xo.

Suspending Disbelief: Inspired by Disney’s The Lion King.

Hello everyone. Welcome to another #theorythursday. Last week I discussed nouns in my #backtobasics series so check it out if you haven’t already. Today I am talking about the idea of suspending one’s disbelief so let’s dive in.

If you follow me on Instagram (@katelovesliterature), then you will have seen that on Tuesday evening I went to see The Lion King in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre for the second time.

I’ve written a blog post already about going to see this fantastic musical which you can find in my Theatre Trip category if you are interested in reading my thoughts on the show. I jumped at the chance to see the musical again as it is so incredible and I think I enjoyed it even more the second time around.

I study English Literature and I am also a drama student so I was really blown away by the staging of this piece. I think it is a testament to the amount of talent, passion, creativity, and skill that goes into creating a piece of theatre. As I was watching the show again, I became inspired to write about the idea of suspending one’s disbelief because I think that The Lion King musical adaptation really invites audiences to suspend their disbelief and go on a journey with the characters onstage.

What does “suspending your disbelief” mean?

The easiest way I can think of explaining this concept is to say that the idea of suspending one’s disbelief means that as an audience member, we willingly decide to believe in something that is not logical. We allow ourselves to believe that something that should be impossible is possible, we don’t question magic or fantasy, we just accept it because doing so allows us to enjoy the piece.

In a piece like The Lion King, audiences are asked to suspend their disbelief because we are asked to look at these actors who are standing on a stage and accept that they are lions. The Lion King is an immersive work of art. The use of masks, puppetry, scenery, and costumes creates the landscape of the jungle onstage. I love that we can see the actor’s faces beneath the lion masks, I love that we can see the actors working with the puppets, I love that we can see the ensemble wearing costumes that represent different parts of the set, and as the show goes on, we begin to embrace it. We don’t say “it’s a man playing Simba.”, we just say “there’s Simba.” It’s beautiful, and it’s highly theatrical, but the show’s success proves that audiences don’t need things to be spelled out for them, we can accept that we are watching a story about animals. We are willing to suspend our disbelief. It does not matter that we can see the man operating the puppet, that only adds to the magic, it does not take away from it.

If audiences were unable to suspend their disbelief, if we always said “but, it’s not really a lion.”, then shows like The Lion King would not be successful. Shows like Wicked wouldn’t be successful. This idea does not only apply to stage musicals, I could talk about many movies too where the notion of being able to suspend one’s disbelief is crucial to the plot. Recently I went to see Spider-Man: No Way Home, and I haven’t discussed it yet as I can’t discuss themes without including some spoilers, but superhero movies are a great example of movies that depend on audiences suspending their disbelief because if we said “but a boy can’t actually swing across buildings” then the entire premise falls apart. We are told that Spider-Man gets his powers because of a radioactive spider bite and in order to enjoy the rest of the story, we accept this fact without question. I’ve spoken about The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl many times but I have always loved the moment when Barbossa tells Elizabeth that she “best start believing in ghost stories. You’re in one.” I have always felt that this line could be interpreted as being directed at the audience too. Barbossa is telling us that, like Elizabeth, we best accept that ghosts are real because if we kept nitpicking and saying “but ghosts aren’t real” then that movie would fall apart too as one of the key plot points is that Barbossa and his ghostly crew must break the curse, and if we refuse to believe in ghosts then this plot point becomes pointless.

Why is it important to understand the concept of suspending one’s disbelief?

Well I think it is important to understand the concept of suspending one’s disbelief because if one sat down to think about it, many movies depend on the audience doing so. I’ve mentioned a few examples above and I’m sure I could list shows, movies, and series if I wanted to, but so many things rely on suspending our disbelief because doing so allows us to understand and enjoy the piece.

This has been Theory Thursday. I hope you enjoyed it. I will say again that if you get the chance to see The Lion King, don’t miss it. It is utterly brilliant.

Happy Friday Eve.

Kate xo.

Back to Basics: Nouns.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another #theorythursday. Last week I started a series that I am calling a #backtobasics series. I began by talking about verbs. Today I am continuing on with this #backtobasics series and I am going to talk about nouns.

Let’s dive into Theory Thursday.

What is a noun?

A noun is a word that is used when an author is referring to a person, a place, or a thing. This is the most straightforward explanation of what a noun is.

Let’s take a look at these two sentences that I am making up to use as an example, “The man walked into the house. He was carrying a heavy shopping bag.” The word “man” is a noun as this sentence is referring to a person. The word “house” is another noun as this is the place the man is going to, and the word “bag” is a noun as a shopping bag is a thing. The bag is the thing that the man is carrying.

A noun can also be a word that is used to refer to an idea and this can become slightly more complicated. The idea of justice, the idea of friendship, the idea of honesty etc., these are ideas that are described as being abstract nouns because these are things that cannot be physically held or seen. You can’t see love, you can’t hold love, you can’t physically touch love, but you feel it, and you can express it through actions and words, but love is a feeling, as is anger and fear etc.

Why is it important to understand what a noun is?

As I said in last week’s discussion when I was talking about verbs, I think it is always useful to have a refresher on what certain things mean. This #backtobasics series that I am exploring will be more useful if you are a student as it is simply covering basic ideas that can sometimes get forgotten over time. If you need to write an essay, or you are studying a lot, then it is important to understand what nouns are and what they mean, and so hopefully students may find these particular Theory Thursday discussions helpful.

I also think that sometimes explanations of what these terms mean can be more complicated than they need to be, which is why I explain everything in my own words and create my own examples so that anyone who is interested in literary theory can read about it in a way that I hope is accessible to everyone. You don’t need to have studied English Literature before in order to read my theory discussions which is sometimes the case. I start from scratch and I aim to explain everything in the most straightforward way possible because I believe that having an understanding of literary theory, even down to the basics, will enhance one’s reading experience.

This has been Theory Thursday. I hope you all enjoyed it. I hope you have a lovely weekend. If there is any aspect of literary theory that you find particularly confusing, then please do let me know because I may be able to help.

Kate xo.

Back to Basics: Verbs.

Hello everyone. Welcome back to another #theorythursdy. Last week I talked about punctuation. I concentrated on what an ellipsis mark means. Check it out if you haven’t already.

Today I have decided to start a #backtobasics series. In this series, I am going to be talking about basic components of English and I am starting with verbs. The reason I have decided to do a back to basics series is because some people have told me that they still get mixed up when thinking about what some things mean, or they feel certain things could be explained in an easier way so I am going to talk about nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc, so if you need a refresher on what certain things mean then Theory Thursdays will be really useful.

If you follow me on Instagram (@katelovesliterature), then you will have seen that on Tuesday evening I attended a performance of Brian Friel’s Faith Healer in the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and it was incredible. There will be a #theatretrip discussion coming up about it soon.

Let’s dive into Theory Thursday.

What is a verb?

I think the easiest way to explain what a verb is, is to say that a verb is an action word.

An example of the use of a verb in a sentence can be found in a sentence such as “The girl ran across the road.” In this sentence, the girl is running, the action is to run, so the verb in this sentence is the word “ran”.

A verb can also be used to describe a state of being and it can also be used to describe an occurrence.

This can sound slightly more complicated so I think it is easier to explain with an example.

If I were to say something like “Through the years, the child became an adult.” The word “became” is the verb that is describing an occurrence because a child growing from childhood to adulthood is an occurrence.

A verb used to describe a state of being, will describe the way something is in the present moment. “The girl is happy.” The word “is” is the state of being verb in this sentence because it is telling readers the girl’s state of being. In the moment that we are reading that sentence, we are learning that the girl is in a happy state.

If I were to say something like “The girl smiled in delight because she was happy to learn that she was going to her grandmother’s house for the weekend.” The verbs in this sentence are the words “smiled”, “was”, and “going”. Two of the verbs are doing words that describe an action, “smiled” and “going” and “was” is a state of being verb because the girl was in a happy state upon learning that she was going to her grandmother’s house.

Most sentences contain a verb of some sort.

Why is this important?

I think having an understanding of verbs and how they function simply broadens one’s understanding of language all together. Obviously if you are a student then this type of information will be more useful because you will have to be able to identify verbs when you are writing as when you are a student you have to be aware of grammar in general. I also think it can be useful to get a little refresher sometimes about what certain things mean because over time we can forget or get mixed up. I am always learning and studying and refreshing my memory on what things mean because when I choose a Theory Thursday topic, I always explain it in my own words because I think the key to knowing that you understand something is when you can clearly explain the topic to someone else. All of the examples I give are sentences that I have made up myself. If I do quote something or someone I will always reference them, but I like to try to stick to my own words as much as possible because my aim behind Theory Thursdays is to explain aspects of grammar and literary theory in the most straightforward way possible so that anyone who is interested in it can read about it and hopefully enjoy my discussions.

This has been Theory Thursday. Happy Friday Eve.

Kate xo.

Punctuation: Ellipsis.

Hello everyone. Welcome to another #theorythursday. Last week I talked about what the term juxtaposition means so check that out if you haven’t already. Today I am talking about punctuation again so let’s dive in.

What is an ellipsis?

An ellipsis mark is made up of three periods. It looks like this …

What does this mean?

An ellipsis mark is used when someone is quoting someone else but they do not want to use the entire quote. The ellipsis mark tells readers that there is an omission in this quote.

If I want to quote the beginning of a paragraph and the end of a paragraph then I would use an ellipsis mark to indicate that I have skipped over part of this quote.

E.g.

“The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses…or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.” (The Picture of Dorian Gray, Illustrated by Henry Keen, from The Oscar Wilde Collection: A Selection Of His Greatest Works, Chapter 1, pg.13).

I have used a quote from The Picture of Dorian Gray as an example, you can see that I have started to quote this book, but I did not want to use the entire quote. I have used the beginning and the end of the first sentence in chapter one and I have used the ellipsis mark … to indicate that there are lines missing from this quote.

Why is this important?

I think that understanding what an ellipsis mark means is very important for writers and for students especially. If you are writing an essay and you want to use a quote but not an entire paragraph then it is important to know that you can break up a quote without misquoting or improperly quoting. The ellipsis mark … allows students to use the key parts of the quote that they need without having extra information that they may not need because when writing essays, it is especially important to make sure that any quotes you use make sense. A quote should back up what you are saying, you should not just throw in quotes because you think it shows off that you know this quote, a quote should serve the rest of your writing.

It is also important to understand what an ellipsis mark is and what it means from a reader’s perspective too because if you see this mark … and you don’t know what it means then you will be confused.

This has been Theory Thursday. Is there any punctuation mark that you find really confusing? Let me know.

Kate xo.