Apr 11, 2012

J is for Juxtaposition


Juxtaposition is a strong tool you can use to create imagery and emotion. It occurs when two things that shouldn't usually go together are placed side by side for comparison. For example, seeing children playing and running through a war-torn village, amongst rubble and death. Children and Death are two themes we don't expect to see together.

I use this writing technique when teaching English for assignments such as creation a visual representation of a poem. Using a poem about the vietnam war, a student showed children on swings and the next slide was of dead young soldiers. The image was made stronger because we were reminded that those dead soldiers were once just kids on swings. Even though the two images seem totally unconnected, we find a connection. That's what people do, we look for connections.

Cinderella appears even more beautiful and sweet because she is contrasted with her wicked ugly step-sisters. But rather than have such black and white juxtapositions, make good and evil exist within the one character. Seeing your bad guy condemn a prisoner to death and then buy his little girl a pony shows a contrast of personalities within the one character. 

If your theme is loyalty, you'll want to contrast it by showing betrayal. If it's bravery, show cowardice. And try to show new ways of placing these themes together, rather than the old one bad guy, one good guy. Mix it up.

30 comments:

  1. Wow, what an insightful post! Thanks, Charmaine! This has given me a lot to think about while I finish writing my wip.

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  2. Hmmm this has made me think...this very well might be the thing that is missing from my main character...she is too one sided. Thank you!
    Blessings, Joanne

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  3. I love this post on juxtaposition. The picture couldn't be more perfect! Great!

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  4. This has given me so much to think about. Excellent post.

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  5. A wonderful explanation of the J word. The picture says it all.

    Yvonne.

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  6. yes it is always more interesting to have some opposite sides to our personalities

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  7. I honestly don't use juxtaposition enough in my stories but they do add so much to it.

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  8. I like posts that make me think. This is great, thank you!

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  9. Yes! Great blog. It is this juxtaposition with our characters that create real, loveable, or hateable, folks. It's what makes our characters come alive.

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  10. Wonderful post about one of my favorite words.

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  11. Visiting from A to Z. This made me think of all the juxtapositions in my own life and person.:)

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  12. My son wrote a piece in 4th grade that somewhat stunned his teacher.

    He wrote a story about a raindrop, from the POV of the raindrop.

    If you sock the reader in the gut, they remember it.

    The teacher tested him for gifted and talented, but he didn't care. He said, Daddy, it was just a stupid test.

    - Eric

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  13. Awesome post. It really made me think about things I had never thought about before!! Visiting from the A-Z challenge. ♥

    Kathy
    http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com

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  14. So good. And this: "Seeing your bad guy condemn a prisoner to death and then buy his little girl a pony" Such a sharp, poignant contrast. I love these sorts of images and what they say about humanity.

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  15. Great post... thanks for the thought provoking post!

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  16. What a fabulous post! Loved it :)! And the picture you chose was perfect :).

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  17. I meant to come earlier but I've been on vacation and haven't been visiting people back as much as I need to. Following now :).

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  18. You make an excellent point, Charmaine! Makes perfect sense because each of us are good and bad, to some degree or another. Our characters will be more well rounded for using juxtaposition. Love the pic, btw. :-)

    Sia McKye OVER COFFEE

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  19. One word: Great!
    You give the secret of the nature of writing. Thanks.

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  20. I think juxtaposition is a great tool to use in writing prose or poetry. Thanks Charmaine. It would make a good writing exercise to juxtapose unlikely things/people.

    Denise

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  21. One of your best letter days Yet! The pic says it all. Your post says it pretty well too Charmaine :-D

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  22. I like the word juxtaposition and used it in my short A to Z today
    good advice for writers
    Happy Wed

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  23. Great advice! Juxtaposition is an awesome tool that can create some powerful imagery!

    And may I say that as a Chihuahua lover/owner, I ADORE your Zombie Dog cover! :)

    J.C. Martin
    A to Z Blogger

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  24. What an enlightening post! You have one additional subscriber!

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