Playing musical words

stephs (4)One of the quickest ways to make your writing voice stand out from the crowd is to master the use of literary devices. Many of these are just fancy names for specific types of diction and syntax that we have already covered. For example, hyperbaton, sub-type anastrophe, is the formal name for the distinctive change in syntax that marked the speech of Yoda in Star Wars. Others are particular kinds of devices used to make plots more interesting such as the red herring mentioned in “What do you want to do with the dead body?” Some of the devices that have often ignored potential  involve using words because of their sounds. Like the sloshing, crackling, twinkling onomatopoeia words. I think of these as the ‘musical’ literary devices. 

The pleasantness or harshness of word when read aloud  has a subtle impact on mood even when they are read silently. Euphony -the beautiful sounding effect – is created by using words full of vowels and consonants like the ‘l’ and ‘s’ as well as the ‘f’ sound in the middle of euphony. The word cacophony contains elements that make a word harsh sounding – the repetition of voiced consonants – such as the ‘k’ sound. Repeated ‘b,’ hard ‘g’ and ‘z’ also create a guttural sound.

 Consciously increase alliteration (words that begin with the same sound) and  your writing will sound more poetic, with the bonus that you will probably not be repeating trite phrases as much. Consonance (repeated consonant sounds within the words) has a similar effect. However, I wouldn’t bother that much with creating assonance. There are not so many vowel sounds that we notice when they are intentionally repeated. Sometimes I think the term assonance was created for a tricky questions on the SAT and as another way to make immature high school boys snicker.

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One Response to Playing musical words

  1. Pingback: How to play the words well | Write about what?

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