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Alliteration: Annoying or Articulating?

Updated on February 8, 2015

A Banner Book Title

Article titles, abstruseness, and apples are what made readers relate.
Article titles, abstruseness, and apples are what made readers relate. | Source

Titles: Alliteration Captures in a Few Well Chosen Words

Titles are the first chance you have to entice your audience to read. Some authors and writers have a general idea of what they want to write about and use a working title before finalizing it. Others create their article around a few well chosen words because they know the title is right.

Still, Titles Pose a Challenge

However, the best writers know that even if the end sentence is a killer, but the title did not capture the reader, many people will not read the article. Using alliteration is a quick way to engage your readers, meaning that they actually do make it to that excellent end sentence. So, just what is alliteration?

"[Alliteration is] a device that many writers employ to create a treasure trove of tried-and-true, bread-and-butter, bigger-and-better, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, do-or-die, footloose-and-fancy-free, larger-than-life, cream-of-the-crop titles." Edwin Newman quoted by Jim Fisher in The Writer's Quote-book: 500 Authors on Creativity, Craft, and the Writing Life.

Attracting and Appealing to the Audience

Toby Fulwiler and Alan R. Hayakawa, The Blair Handbook. Prentice Hall, 2003 list the following ways to home in on your title.

1.Use one strong short phrase from your paper

2.Present a question that your paper answers

3.State the response to the question or issue your paper will explore

4.Use a clear or catchy image from your paper

5.Use a famous quotation

6.Write a one-word title (or a two-word title, a three-word-title, and so on)

7.Begin your title with the word On

8.Begin your title with a gerund (-ing word)

Do you use quotes in your articles?

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Qualify Quickly with a Quote

Quotes help validate or support your article, and there are many sites that give you a choice of humorous, witty, or brainy quotes about any subject. Many authors and writers use these to strengthen their position, but we all need to be mindful that the quote is accurate and sited correctly.

Thomas Frank, in “Check it Yourself”; written for Harper’s Magazine, said, "I think the answer is that the myths are so much more satisfying than reality." Likewise, historians Paul F. Boiler Jr. and John George write that, " quote fakers 'dream up things that never happened but which they think should have and then insert them into history."

Surely There's Another Source

The other factor is that the author of the quote may be a little known. Using the unknown can sometimes prove distracting as our readers then want to know who this person is and go searching for the author rather than reading our article.

Conversely, some people are too well known, and not for the right reasons. The author of the quote is out of favor with the public or was recently found guilty of a crime in their respective realm of expertise.

There are many sports heroes, politicians, and celebrities that would fit into this category, so using them may prove problematic.

Granted, few if any have given up the sport of golf because of Tiger Woods' transgressions or decided never to vote again after Bill Clinton's behavior, but using their quotes could invalidate your article.

Do you use Alliteration in your writing?

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Alliteration in the Article

Alliteration can, unfortunately, draw attention to itself by using phrases in the prose that purposely produce an effect. My sentence is an excellent example of the continuation of the letter, "p". However, comic effect is often the result even when unintended. Overdoing alliteration creates frivolous tongue twisters for readers.

There are examples in the literature where an alliteration, used sparingly create dramatic as opposed to comic effect.

Herman Melville, in Moby-Dick: "There was an infinity of firmest fortitude, a determinate unsurrenderable willfulness, in the fixed and fearless, forward dedication of that glance."

James Joyce in The Dead: "His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby: "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

Truman Capote: In Cold Blood: "The whisper of the wind voices in the wind-bent wheat."

Nabokov in Lolita: "..she was weeping in my arms;--a salutary storm of sobs" And a few sentences later " ...a dot of blackness in the blue of my bliss."

Hemingway's "In Our Time": "Women and kids were in the carts crouched with mattresses, mirrors, sewing machines, bundles."

Recycle the Redundant

Omit the obvious
Omit the obvious | Source

In The End: Edit

Beyond editing for typos and grammar, you can discover how your piece sounds if you print it out and read it aloud; an easy way to see how the words sound. If you are distracted trying to say the phrase, so will the reader.

Pay attention to all of the qualities that make the writing excellent, just be mindful that your article doesn't get relegated to the rejection pile with too much emphasis on alliteration. However, if you still like alliteration, there a site that helps with finding the right words. Albert Thomas has taken the guesswork out of alliteration; a treasure trove of words for wordsmiths.

There are many resources for improving your Hubs. Using different styles and framing your information to engage your readers in them will allow you to reach more readers.

I would suggest that you use the Hub Tutorials, read articles from writers that are successful on Hub, and try writing an article using a different style than usual, maybe even some alliteration.

There is more, but I have a hankering for the heady hint of yeast, so will bake Boston brown bread; hope there is another hub in me, and hop another Hub tomorrow.

© 2013 Marilyn L Davis


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    • MDavisatTIERS profile image

      Marilyn L Davis 3 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you for the comment. I know from reading several of your Hubs that having feedback helped you, encouraged you, and directed you to the tools to create the blue areas.

      "Writing about writing" is not in my comfort zone nor niche, but if getting older means I can wear purple and spit in the street, it also means I can write about what interests me, what makes sense to me and what is fun - and sometimes, it interests, makes sense and is fun to another- what a gift.


    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      Great job. You have made some very valid points. I am one who is attracted by an excellent title and alliteration does get my attention at times. But the bottom line is, if I am not attracted by the title often I do not get to read that killer ending sentence you spoke of. I do use some alliteration when I write and I do not really use one style over another when it comes to sensory imagery.

      Angels are on the way ps

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