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Add alliteration to make your pages pop!

In my earlier post, “Rhetorical Devices: Your Secret Writing Weapon,” I mentioned that, as a poet, I often use alliteration, which is the repetition of the same sounds or the same kinds of sounds at the beginning of words or in stressed syllables.

I never really thought about using alliteration purposely in my prose writing…it just kind of happened naturally as I wrote and tuned in to my “poet’s ear.” But after taking Margie Lawson’s online class on Deep Editing and Rhetorical Devices, I realized what a great tool alliteration (and other rhetorical devices) can be to make my pages pop.

You don’t want to overdo alliteration making your prose sound forced or “writerly” but you can learn to use it to add sparkle to your sentences. 

Alliteration Exercise:

Print out a chapter of your work-in-progress and scan through it for any sections that seem flat. Copy and paste a sentence into a new document and label it “before.”  Make a copy and label it “after.”

Then play with the line—try out some alliteration, put it back in your original document and see how it flows. Do you need to extend the alliteration in the next line a bit? Does it sound awkward or out of place? Nothing is set in concrete. You can always put it back the way it was.

Here’s an example of one of my alliterative experiments:

Set up: My protagonist, a veterinarian, just finished surgery on a dog that almost died.

Before:  I sighed and tossed my scrubs at the wicker basket next to the sink.

After:   I sighed and slung my scrubs into the silver bin next to the sink.

The after version is better, isn’t it? And I realized upon examining the sentence that, most likely, there wouldn’t be a wicker basket for soiled scrubs in a vet clinic. A silver bin is much more apt. Bonus!

Have fun with your own alliterative play!

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