Are You Alliterate? Four Tips for Successful Alliteration

Are you alliterate? I don’t mean literate (that you can read) or illiterate (that you can’t read) but alliterate (that you can use alliteration: the repetition of similar sounds at the beginning of words). Are you prone to exercise alliteration when you write?

I am most fond of alliteration. I use it whenever possible; it is part of my writing voice. When done well, a cleverly alliterate phrase is memorable and impactful, which is precisely what we want our writing to accomplish.

I have, however, taken alliteration to extremes in some of my past writing. In recent years, I’ve pursued a more moderate approach to alliteration. No longer do I take literary pride in having penned an eight-word sentence, where seven of them began with S. That was too much.

Here are my tips for successful alliteration:

Use It: There are some in literary circles who dismiss alliteration as an ill-advised technique of novice writers. Personally, I think they’re just jealous they’re not alliterate. If there is any anti-alliterate bias, it is a mere trend. Use alliteration wisely to make our words soar.

Three Words Max: Seeing how many similarly sounding words we can string together may make for a good pastime, but it doesn’t make for good writing. Two-word alliteration is good, but stop at three. Four or more calls attention to the writer and distracts from the words written.

Don’t Sacrifice Meaning: I used to fall into the trap of exchanging clarity for the sake of alliteration. If a non-alliterate word communicates better than an alliterate alternative, always pick the one that speaks clearest.

Have Fun: Alliteration can be fun – when used in moderation. Enjoy it; relish it; perfect it. May you be an alliterate writer.

What are your thoughts on alliteration? Do you like it or avoid it?

What do you think? Please leave a comment!