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This article shows you some of the tools of the trade for the nonfiction writer.

* Alliteration: “Peter picked a peck of pickled peppers”
Note the repetition of the “p” sound in the phrase above? Alliteration is the repetition of initial sounds in successive or closely spaced words. The example above is a tongue twister and an example of how alliteration can be overused. Alliteration is a sound affect. Readers will not only process the words as they are read, but they’ll hear them as well.

From page 124 of Plath’s journal, we have another example of alliteration
“She is small, skinny, sallow with black hair done up in back in a bun and braids under a visor khaki cap.” You’ll see in that sentence Plath uses alliteration in three different instances. She/small/skinny/sallow then back/bun/braids and finally khaki/cap.

Her husband Ted Hughes, another famous poet, also gives us an example of alliteration in You Hated Spain: “Watching bewildered bulls awkwardly butchered.”

Other examples of alliteration are

He who laughs last laughs first
Back to basics
Mickey Mouse
Chicago Cubs
Bed Bath and Beyond
Bend it Like Beckham
* Allusion:
By referencing recognizable people, places, characters, or any other part of culture or history, you are creating an allusion for the reader. It can be anything that the reader will recognize and draw an image from. Some examples of allusion include the rock group Veruca Salt which alludes to the girl who turned into a blueberry in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

The famous poet Ferlinghetti was a master of allusion in his collection, Coney Island of the Mind. In poem 28 the subject matter was not only a dove, but he arranged his sentences so that the shape of the poem looked like one as well. He referenced many famous painters and paintings such as Goya and Chagall; biblical references like Galilee, Dead Sea, Jesus, God and Peter; writers like Dante; and historical references such as Old Glory.

Allusion can also mimic the structure of a piece of work. Jane Smiley’s book A Thousand Acres is set up the same as Shakespeare’s King Lear. Another example is Jane’s Austen’s Pride and Prejudice which was used as the basis of Bridget Jones’ Diary.

* Assonance and Consonance:
Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in words (Animal Planet) and consonance is the repetition of consonants. What differs consonance from alliteration, is that consonance can be a repetition that occurs in the middle or end of the word, while alliteration is a repetition at the beginning of the word.

* Metaphor:
By comparing two things you’re creating a metaphor. For example, “hands that are as cold as ice.”  Some metaphors are obvious, such as, “she’s a book worm,” or, “he’s a leech.”  Other metaphors are not so obvious or direct. For example, trees in poems often depict a person’s life.

* Repetition:
Repetition, repeating the same words or phrases is a very effective tool.

* Rhyme:
Rhyme is the repeating of identical sounds in different words. Rhyming words in prose add a flow to the text, making it easier and more enjoyable to read, like The Cat in the Hat.

* Simile:
Similes are comparisons, for example, “he stings like a bee,” or, “she is as smart as a fox.” Comparisons with similes are made using the words, “like” or “as.”