(INFERNAL DEVICES courtesy of 2BORN2B at Deviant Art)
Specifically, literary devices, of which there are many...
alliteration: A poetic device which uses words with the same first letter in a row to create rhythm and melody.
flashback/flashforward: The depiction of previous events and/or events yet to come, which "reveal significant parts of the story that have not yet occurred, but soon will in greater detail. Flashback is used to create a background to the present situation, place or person."
Hamartia: A character defect or mistake "of a tragic hero that leads to his downfall."
incluing vs infodump: a setting device, specifically, background exposure. The former gives information to the reader in smaller more easily assimilated amounts while the latter empties the whole bin at once, often in a cliched way like the "As you know, Bob..." scenario.
irony: a "discrepancy between expectation and reality." Of the three different kinds one is situational, one is dramatic, and one is verbal. In the first, there is "a discrepancy between what is expected and what is actualized." In the second, "a character is unaware of pivotal information already revealed to the audience (the discrepancy here lies in the two levels of awareness between the character and the audience)." And in the third, "one states one thing while meaning another. The difference between verbal irony and sarcasm is exquisitely subtle and often contested."
red herring: a plot device whereby attention is diverted from "an item of significance." Mysteries frequently use this device but it can be used in any genre.
There are many, many more literary devices, some of which I'm familiar with like en media res or deus ex machina, but I discovered many more while writing this post. For example, Chekhov's Gun refers to the "insertion of an apparently irrelevant object early in a narrative for a purpose only revealed later." Thematic Patterning is the distribution of "recurrent thematic concepts and moralistic motifs among various incidents and frames of a story. In a skillfully crafted tale, thematic patterning may emphasize the unifying argument or salient idea disparate events and disparate frames have in common." And a Bildungsroman is "a type of novel concerned with education, development, and maturation of a young protagonist. Essentially, a bildungsroman traces the formation of a protagonist's maturity (the passage from childhood to adulthood) by following the development of his/her mind and character."
Have you ever found yourself using literary devices unconsciously? Are there any specific devices you enjoy using? Or do you choose depending on the story?
*all quotes courtesy of Wikepedia and Literary Devices. The latter has an extensive list as well as the top ten faves.