Fine-Tuning Your Voice

Creativity & Expression

To help you express what may be complex sensory perceptions, it may be useful to become familiar with some special literary techniques: 

Alliteration: words beginning with the same vowel (as in "above," "align," "atom") or consonant (as in "cat," "comatose," "cubicle")

Assonance: words that may not begin with the same vowel but that share an exact-sounding vowel later (as in "bowtie," "earlobe," "crescendo")

Consonance: words that may not begin with the same consonant but that share an exact-sounding consonant later (as in "have," "divvy," "malevolent")

Onomatopoeia: words that sound like their definitions (as in "murmur," "screech," "yuck")

The following examples of each technique, from free and formal verse, come from our Fundamentals of Poetry Writing workshop:

Alliteration

Note in the following excerpts the alliterative "f" and "l" sounds of the free verse poem "Geographies" and the "m" and "p" sounds of the rondeau redoublé "Assemblies of God":

In all your fantasies, nights on the farm your father lost
In the formative years, livestock and livelihood
Property now of Liberty Savings. …
—from "Geographies" reprinted from Platonic Love (Orchises Press)

This is an aubade
To mourners awaiting the miraculous
At parlor or pew. As virgins prayed
To be the maiden image of deus. …
—from "Assemblies of God," reprinted from Talk (Arkansas Press)

Assonance

Note the embedded "ou" and "u" sounds in the excerpt from the free verse poem "What the Waitress Sees" and the "e" sound from the formal poem "My Brave Asthmatic":

A man of dangerous
Middle Age: suited, tied. And you are younger
Of course: casual, cute. …
—from "What the Waitress Sees" reprinted from Platonic Love (Orchises Press)

And embers descend on her like demon.
Then winter arrives with its chill reason.
—from "My Brave Asthmatic" reprinted from Millennium’s End (Archer Books)

Through the online lectures, hands-on writing assignments, practical exercises and one-on-one feedback offered in the Creativity & Expression Workshop, you’ll learn concepts and techniques to make your writing more colorful and captivating than ever!

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