My Teacher Hat for the Day

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When writing Fan Fiction, the author employs a well know writing device known as allusion (not to be confused with illusion). Allusion is defined as: a reference, within a literary work, to another work of fiction, a film, a piece of art, or even a real event.

Though allusion is but one literary device authors can use to enhance their writing, I feel it is often the best way to connect thoughts and ideas and will increase the opportunity for readers to engage and connect to a story. The difficulty lies if the author is alluding to an event or piece of literature the reader isn’t familiar with. However when employing show vs. tell in writing, the author can overcome any reader difficulty.

When I taught middle school English, I often used a simple writing lesson that would guarantee the use of allusion – and this method is currently taught in schools all over. If you have students in middle or high school, ask them about the following. It might surprise you to find they are familiar with it, though possible not proficient.

I pulled some notes from my teaching days to create this blog post.

Three Ways to Include Allusion:

TEXT TO SELF: Text-to-self connections are highly personal connections that a reader makes between a piece of reading material and the reader’s own experiences or life.

Does this remind me of  something that happened in my life?
How is this similar to my life? How is it different?
Has something like this ever happened to me?
Can I relate this to my life? How?
As I read this, what were my feelings?

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TEXT TO TEXT: Sometimes when reading, readers are reminded of other things that they have read, other books by the same author, stories from a similar genre, or perhaps on the same topic. Readers gain insight during reading by thinking about how the information they are reading connects to other familiar text.

Does this remind me of another book  or article I’ve read?
How is this text similar? How is it different?

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TEXT TO WORLD:Text-to-world connections are the larger connections that a reader brings to a reading situation. We all have ideas about how the world works that goes far beyond our own personal experiences. We learn about things through television, movies, and other media outlets.

What does this remind me of in the real world?
How is this text similar to things that happen in the real world? How is it different?
How did it relate to the world around me?

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To effectively employ theses strategies the author must encourage the reader to ask themselves, often subliminally:

This reminds me of….
I felt like…(character) when I….
If that happened to me….
This book reminds me of…(another text) because….
I can relate to… because one time….
Something similar happened to me….

Allusions are used often and in every day life, whether or not you are aware of it. Anytime someone is described as a Scrooge, the allusion is being made to Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. And if two lovers are described as “star-crossed”, the allusion is made to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

For today, I’ll end the class and take off my teacher hat.I hope the information wasn’t too dry. I feel, tough, it is important to recognize the literary strategies we learned in school and employ them in our writing.

On that note, what are some allusions you’ve recognized in today’s popular literature? Have you used the literary device in your own writing?

~Christine

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About Christine Hughes

A few things about me in no particular order: 1. I love the NY Jets (I know, I know...) 2. I love where I live. An hour to NY, Philly and the Jersey shore. 3. I have two boys and they make me laugh hard enough to blow liquids out of my nose. The hubs is funny enough to make me pee my pants. Not that it's ever happened. Of course not. 4. Being a writer is the best job on the planet, and not just because I can wear jammies to work, drink coffee by the gallonful, randomly catch up on my DVR'd shows, troll YouTube, flip on E! News and browse iTunes - all in the name of research. 5. I have some of the best friends in the world - they put up with my inappropriate jokes, foul mouth, strange musings and don't judge me if I drink too much wine on a Tuesday. Just sayin' - a girl needs her friends. 6. Represented by the most fabulous Michelle Johnson of Inklings Literary Agency. I fell into it with her - she is perfectly amazeballs. LOVE!

Posted on February 21, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I love allusions, and it’s a great way for students to reflect on a text. My son is in an IB school, and he does all three of those with almost every text analysis assignment! It’s a great tool for writers, too!

  2. Thank you Teacher Hughes. I’ve used allusion in my work. I didn’t know there was a name for it until just now. My character is an excellent martial artist and the hero called her Buffy. Allusion. Thanks for the lesson.

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