I used to be addicted to alliteration: the repetition of similar sounds near each other in a sentence, usually at the start of words. “Similar sounds” is an example of alliteration. An extreme example would be “Similar sounds starting successive words…”
Just as some people consider a pun as the highest form of humor, I elevate alliteration as a revered writing skill. I used to employ it often, too often, in fact.
Apparently alliteration has become passé. Some even say to avoid it, as alliteration distracts the reader. How sad. In discussing this with Chip MacGregor, he allowed that two or perhaps three sound repetitions are acceptable, while four or more are excessive.
Yikes! I’ve pulled off four and five alliterative sounds—and once proudly strung together six in a row. When in the depths of my addiction, I would replace an ideal word with an acceptable one just to satisfy my compulsion. Even now, with my craving in check, I’m especially pleased at this post’s title, with the beginning and ending of two words that showcase my skill.
My addiction to alliteration will never go away, but I am in recovery. (But, oh, how I miss it.)
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.