It’s a favorite device in my writing repertoire.
What is it? My Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines it as “the repetition of usu. initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables (as wild and wooly, threatening throngs)–called also head rhyme, initial rhyme.”
This literary device is one we often learn as children. Think tongue twisters: She sells seashells by the seashore.
Alliteration is a sound device. (Sound, as in what we hear as opposed to showing good judgment, although a writer does need to exercise sound judgment when using alliteration. :-))
Because alliteration is focused on what we hear rather than what we see, the words on the page don’t create the rhythm and pace. The sounds themselves do.
Final phase, noble knight, and writing repertoire work, even though the words don’t begin with the same letter. However, city council doesn’t because the initial letter takes a different sound in each word.
One can go overboard and produce writing reminiscent of tongue twisters. In an early version of a story I wrote, one of my readers pointed out a paragraph in which my use of alliteration made her pause. Since it’s such a good bad example, I’ll be brave and bare my writerly failings.
A canopy bed was pushed against the far wall. It had a ruffled pink top and side curtains that were drawn back at each of the bedposts to puddle on the floor in a profusion of soft folds. The peony patterned quilt on the bed featured a plethora of dark pink and red flowers in forest green baskets. Pink curtains the color of the bed draperies were pulled back at the windows to reveal a pleasing picture of the perfectly manicured garden below.
Lesson learned: a little alliteration goes a long way. 🙂
• • • • •
I wanna know . . .
Is alliteration a device you like to use?
Do you have a good example you’d like to share from your own writing?