I haven’t opened my dictionary in forever. But I did today.
Gimmick: ingenius or novel device, scheme, deception, hidden disadvantage
What if she had not tried to impress the judges with her tricks? What if she had taken the audition seriously? Would the judges have sent her to Hollywood? Are rhetorical questions a gimmick? Or a device?
Device: a plan, a scheme, or trick for effecting a purpose. Literary a particular word pattern, combination of word sounds, etc., used to arouse a desired reaction in the reader.
Wow. There seems to be a fine line between a gimmick and a device. To me, a gimmick has a negative conotation. But a device is something useful, a tool.
But how about gimmicks vs devices in writing?
If rhetorical questions are sparse and well-placed, it’s a device. If they are used to punctuate every section of internal dialogue or end every chapter – it’s a gimmick.
If you let the reader get to know your character and care first, then shocking news in the f irst chapter is a device. If you open your novel with shocking news or a high-paced chase through the woods, but we don’t have the emotional investment in your character yet, it’s a gimmick.
Purple prose? Well, I don’t think there is ever a place for inflated description. It’s a gimmick. But description that sets the mood and tone of your story, helps create the story world, and/or is seen through the eyes of your character? It’s a device.
Again, it all comes down to the writing – creating authentic emotion that invites the reader into the world you’ve created. (I know. Very hard to do.)
But, of course, there is always an exception:
What are other devices that if not used well turns into a gimmick? And which ones have you used? (I used to think rhetorical questions were cool and they still sneak into my writing if I’m not careful.)
And I will leave you with three awesome quotes from the guest judge: Shania Twain.
“The lights are off, but someone is home.”
“…humble, head-on straight, attractive…”
“When you’re good. Try, try again.”