An Alluring Alliteration

I love dialogue. That’s no secret. I enjoy trying to give each character a style or quirk to their speaking that sets them apart. Whether it’s a slang word only they use, or they don’t ever contract words, or they have a habit of ending sentences in questions or have to always have the last word. Not all quirks are obvious and for me that means I was successful.

However there is one thing I do with dialogue that is fun and very noticeable. I only do this with one character or unless they are being silly on purpose. Alliteration.

Alliteration is a style device that is the use of a repeated sound, consonant sound or first letter(With same sound) in a series of words in a row.

An example that comes to mind is Mr. Popper’s Penguins(the movie). The outlier character Pippi has a particular penchant for picking P letter words. ie: “Punctuality is a particular priority for this prospect,”  She does this throughout the movie. For this character it’s almost like a behavior issue or verbal OCD. I don’t recall if it’s addressed in the movie or not or if she just babbles P words constantly.  That is an extreme example exemplifying my point.

I have a character that when flustered or angry she alliterates. I usually make it silly and because it’s so contrary to her character’s normal behavior/personality the others point it out.

There are three types of alliteration, the first is just called alliteration

Paul petted Polly’s pet poodle Pom-Pom.
Tom tutted tiredly.
Karl cleaned candy off the cushions.

The second is Consonance alliteration. This is a style identified by the repetition of similar or identical consonants in neighbouring words. Their vowel sounds are often different.

Consonance words in pairs:

Blank and think
Welled and scald
hear and beer
Hipster and hatter
Hog and frog

In rhyming:

Would Cail pull. the tail of the bull?
Callie held the rally in the alley.
The hook of the book makes it worth a look.
Writing fighting is enlightening.

The third sub form of alliteration is symmetrical. The phrase or sentence will have even number words that parallel. Like half way through the letter beginning each word mirror the first half.  I think the best way to show this… is to show it. It’s most often found in poetry, rhymes and music.

Soggy carrot cake sucks
Some people walking will pace steadily.
Pretty red apples make many amazing round pies.

I’m not likely to use Symmetrical on purpose in my writing but I do find myself using consonance from time to time as I like to rhyme.

My advice about Alliteration.
Symmetrical is ingeniously suburb. When you prime and rhyme in time with a blurb. Picking particular parts perfectly like perturb.


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Dating Temptation

There are things that can date my writing faster than a blink of an eye. Trends. Objects, clothes, hairstyles, jewelry makeup, music, technology and more. The list can go on. The point is that historically speaking certain things are associated with certain time-periods.

My book takes place in modern day with a slight futuristic hint. If I were writing a historical piece or something set to a specific era I would perhaps use some jargon, sayings or events to set the time and setting. When doing that I would research and take the time to make sure I’m not talking about websites before they were invented or hashtags before the term was coined. Clumsy writing without facts or research will cause the story to stumble and fall. If I were writing to a specific point in time I would also be cautious about using repeated trends such as bell-bottoms and crimped hair.

However, for me and the purpose of this post I’m talking about keeping it vague and casual so that no specific time other than now is perceived. Sure it will be dated eventually, but if I can manage to keep out anything trendy now like hipsters, skinny jeans and the latest app. That’s not to say I don’t include dated objects or events. I’ll mention them as a reference and maybe a comment about “Hey that’s like…” or “Do you remember when … that was cool?” Major world events are safe to use as reference but I’ll keep the amount of time between then and what is written.

I’ve been asked why I do this. Simple, I was taught to and I like it. It makes sense to me since I’m not writing a historical story. I took a course that explained in detail the importance of keeping current trends out of my writing to keep it from becoming dated or ‘lame’ in younger readers minds. Now again if I want it to be dated (which I don’t) plopping pop up trends is the way to go. This is after all how cult favorites are born.  So, I don’t bring up specific events such as an election or terrorist attack, nor would I mention disasters or Olympics. Things that are time specific.

Technology is tricky it changes and evolves so fast that to mention something specific is risky. I do mention laptops and tablets, because they have been around long enough and are likely to be around a while longer that I don’t consider them pop up trends. Things like I-pod’s, cd-players, VHS, Tamagotchi, Sega-Genesis are definitely dated. Personal computer’s have been around long enough they are safe to use, I generally just use a generic term like computer and leave the brand out. So Mac or PC is not mentioned.  However I might say Gaming-console or even PlayStation or X-box, they have been around a while and will likely be, however I would leave out what generation the systems are.

Dating temptation is the strong urge(or instinct) to use dated branded items. The desire to use them is strong because they are familiar and easy to reach for. If I need a branded item and can’t do without, I look to the longest and still strongest survivors like Pepsi, Coke, Sprite and 7up. If not I would say Cola, pop or soda depending on the situation or character. (Different countries call the same things by different names.  In Canada stackable powdery candy are called rockets, in the US they call them Smarties, while Canadians call a candy coated orbital spheroid chocolate, Smarties.

My advice about trendy or familiar things.
If you’re writing and want to avoid sticking your story in a specific date then avoid dated objects, events and fashions. Also, beware of culture differences ie, candies. Apparently, they don’t have Crunchie bars in the us?


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