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A common stylistic literary device is Alliteration, which is a writing technique in which two or more words begin with the same sound.
Understanding how to use Alliteration and how to use alliteration while writing can help you when you write poems, short stories, and essays.
What is Alliteration?
Alliteration is when two or more words in a sentence all begin with the same sound. Using alliteration in your poem can help make it more memorable or help you stress certain points you want to make.
Alliteration is defined as this: the repetition of beginning consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables.
Here are Some Examples of Alliteration in Use:
- Holding Hands
- Whispering Wind
- Sweet and Simple
- Forever Free
- Misty Mountains
- Happy as a Horse
- Perfectly Possible
- Leaping Lizards
- Burning Bright
Famous poems that use alliteration include The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, amongst others. Sometimes alliteration can also be combined with onomatopoeia to further illustrate sound.
Why Use Alliteration?
Alliteration is a great way to make your writing more memorable. It is a simple concept, but when things start with the same sound or same letter we are more likely to remember them.
Alliteration is often used as a mnemonic device to help people remember information, such as an address or information for an exam they are studying for in their college education.
The other reason you may wish to use it is because it can give your writing description and interest. It is a good way to show not tell when you are writing in your stories.
Children’s authors will also enjoy using alliteration when writing children’s literature, as it can add playfulness to the story.
Alliteration Can Also Be Used for Freelance Writing and Copywriting
Another popular reason to use alliteration is because it is extremely marketable. There are many, many examples of how alliteration can be used for branding and for marketing web copy. If you are a freelance writer, using an alliteration technique in writing can be indispensible!
Consider some of these famous brand names – all of which are very memorable!
- Dunkin Donuts
- Krispy Kreme
- Best Buy
- Weight Watchers
- Captain Crunch
If you are a freelance writer, this can give you a lot of opportunities for creative writing that can also help the content you create to be memorable and marketable for a number of brands and companies.
Here are Some Tips for Using Alliteration in Your Writing
Write First, Use Alliteration Later:
I’ve found that if you purposely try to write alliteration it can distract you from finishing your poem or writing what you really mean to say. Instead of purposely trying to use alliteration, use it while adding the finishing touches and revising the poem. Decide what you want to say first – then decide how you will say it using alliteration.
For example, if you are writing a poem about a puppy, you might first write about different things which happen in the poem. You can then go through the poem during the revising and editing process to identify where you may substitute words with ones that would use alliteration.
Avoid overusing alliteration:
You want to stress just a few words – more than 3 or 4 words per line and you may unintentionally turn your poem into a tongue twister!
For example, think of the common tongue twister “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.” Yes, this has plenty of alliteration, but this can be difficult for people to say.
Of course, this is fine if your goal is to write a tongue twister. However, for most writing this is overkill and you do not need that many words all starting with the same sound!
Also, while some poems have used alliteration in every line, generally you will only want to use alliteration once per stanza.
Choose sounds that have many words available:
If you choose a sound that is not common, you may have more difficulty in finding words with alliteration to match.
For example, sounds that begin with the letters c and k can be more difficult, as they are not quite as common. Sounds such as the letter “S” for example have many, many words available.
While I suppose you could write about a kissing kangaroo from Kalamazoo, you would have a lot more flexibility if you choose words that start with the letter S sound such as the phrase “sweet and simple”.
What do you think? Does this kangaroo inspire you to write?
Use a Dictionary and Thesaurus:
If you’re struggling to come up with words that start with the same sound, try using a dictionary or thesaurus to find words that start with the same letter as the other word in the line of your poem.
Rhyming dictionaries can also be very helpful, as these often will find similar sounding words based on the root word you provide.
Think about the mood each sound conveys:
Believe it or not, each sound can convey a different type of tone and mood to your writing.
The B sound makes us think, bold, blunt. Another sound, like the one that the letter W makes may inspire us to think of weather, water, whisper and other nature sounds.
When choosing words, think about the mood the words convey and how they affect the meaning of the poem.
In our example above about the kissing kangaroo from Kalamazoo, you can see how this is a much different tone that something that uses the softer S sound words such as “sweet and simple”.
How Will You Write With Alliteration?
Hopefully learning all about alliteration will help inspire you to use alliteration as a literary device in your writing. How do you think you might use it?
Do you have any tips about using alliteration when writing poetry you would like to share? We welcome your thoughts and comments below!