Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Using alliteration for sound echoes and for fun


In case you haven’t had a chance to experiment with alliteration, here are two types to practice in poems or when you want to turn up the audio for emphasis or humor in other genres of writing.

Assonance – This type of alliteration with vowels is more subtle than consonance, which is more subtle than rhyme. If words end in a vowel, they might rhyme too, but assonance typically comes in the sound of vowels at the beginning of the words or inside them.

For example, read the following question aloud and listen for the repetition of the uuuu (ew,ew,ew) sound in every word but “as.”

Would you choose Hugh as true?


Consonance – The alliteration most people notice when they’re reading is consonance where two or more words in close proximity begin with the same consonant.

Generally, the repetition of two or three consonants on one line lend musicality to a poem. As you read the following, listen especially for the echoing m, r, and g.

…the murmuring sounds of morning

Like end-line and internal rhymes, consonance emphasizes word, but much more subtly. A big exception is if you use multiple words with alliteration. Then you have a tongue twister, such as Suzy sells seashells by the seashore. Try saying that aloud a few times to see how long your tongue lasts without twisting!

Now, go back, reread that last sentence above and notice the alliterative use of l’s and t’s. You can slip that type of consonance into descriptive scenes in novels or other forms of fiction to add a touch of musicality. And, you can even use light alliteration in your nonfiction to lighten a mood.

As you increase sound echoes with consonance, you can increase the humor to a certain point before getting just plain silly:

Susie’s sale of seashells
makes no sense to me!
Why does she sell seashells
when, on the beach,
they’re free? 


poem and article by Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2016, 2019

For more help with poetry techniques, terminology, and forms to play with, order Mary’s e-book, the Christian Poet’s Guide to Writing Poetry, based on the study course she wrote and used for years with other poets and poetry students. The guide is for almost any poet, but the poetry examples come from a Christian perspective. Also, The Poetry Dictionary For Children & For Fun e-book gives you A to Z definitions of poetry terminology, forms, and techniques with lively lines to illustrate - for easy learning in classrooms, creative kids, and poets of any age.










1 comment:

  1. FYI: I don't give much thought to alliteration aka sound echoes as I write but look and listen for opportunities to turn up the sound a little as I revise. For example, a noun in the poem might have a synonym or word with similar meaning that adds more musicality than the first word that came to mind.

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