Monday, April 3, 2017

Alliteration Almost Always Annoys

The thing with alliteration is you have to use it sparingly, or all it does is annoy the reader.

Matthew Dessem, writing a film roundup of sorts – I’m not sure what it is as his alliterative skill killed it for me and I stopped reading – needs to learn this lesson.

Behold, and see how long you can last reading it. The title is just a sample: “Baldwin’s Boffo Boss Baby Bags Big Box Office Bucks, Beats Beauty and the Beast.” (It helps that the blog is called the "Brow Beat" because HA! EVEN MORE BBBBBBB SOUND!

I know, given the titles of the two movies currently battling for supremacy might have made a B-oriented alliteration inevitable, but it’s still a painful read. As an editor, I would have granted him the headline and maybe the first paragraph, but after that I’d insist he include an apology to the readers and continue the rest of the article without his alliterative affectation.

There are authors known for their alliteration. Most known for atrocious alliteration is Amanda McKittrick Ros, whose writing has been a hiss and a byword for more than a century. That’s not the kind of notoriety you want to get as a writer. And if you don't believe it sounds stupid, put it in the mouth of a disgraced Republican politician, and I think you'll want to go back to the Brow Beat and beat this author about the brainbox. With a bat.

I’ll use Ros’ own words here: Avoid alliteration, else you’ll cause me to use my “globes of glare” against you.

Avoiding alliteration shows up frequently on Internet lists of “writing good,” an irony in of itself.
Here’s the best advice I’ve found on alliteration (thought this refers to alliterative names, I think it’s good advice in general):

Of note to writers: Overusing this trope dilutes its effect, particularly if multiple characters have the same starting sounds in their names.

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