Subscribe to my Telegram Channel,
and get new articles first!

PUN in Storytelling - a play on words

Play upon words
Author of the article: Tatiana Zhakova
Journalist, linguist, teacher of storytelling with 10 years of experience
In 2015 she created and promoted her project about Nizhny Novgorod,, after which she created a course called "Storytelling: How to Tell Your Story" based on it. Over 4,000 students have taken the course.

A linguist by education, she quickly masters new areas. Now she is actively studying screenwriting and storytelling in movies/serials, and writes about it in her project's blog.
PUN (play upon words) is a storytelling technique that uses words with ambiguous or unexpected meanings to create humor or intrigue in a story. This technique helps to capture the reader's or listener's attention and make the story more memorable.
For example, in the novel Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, the hero Basil Holloworth says of his painting of Dorian Gray: "I have finished it, at last. It's my masterpiece. It knows my name. Every time I look at it, I've seen my name get shinier." Here the word "she" instead of the picture refers to the novel's protagonist, which creates a humorous situation while also emphasizing the depth of emotion Basil feels about his work.

Another example is the movie How to Tame a Dragon, where the main character, a boy named Hiccup, names the dragons that fight his village.

One of the dragon names becomes "Cat's Grimace," which refers to his facial expression but also creates a comic effect.
PUN can also be used to create intrigue or unexpected plot development. For example, in Agatha Christie's novel Death on the Nile, the hero detective, referring to a murder investigation on a steamboat, says: "Even the simplest bloodsucker must realize that something is not right here.

The word "blood trail" instead of "bloodsucker" is unexpected here and creates a sense of mystery and intrigue in the investigation.

Thus, the PUN technique is an effective tool for creating humor, intrigue, and surprise in a story to make it more memorable and interesting to the reader or listener.