Alliteration:  Does it Articulate, Arouse or Aggravate Your Audience?

By: Marilyn L. Davis


Alliteration Gets Their Attention


“Alliteration is a device that many writers employ to create a treasure trove of tried-and-true, bread-and-butter, bigger-and-better, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, do-or-die, footloose-and-fancy-free, larger-than-life, cream-of-the-crop titles.” Jim Fisher quoting Edwin Newman: The Writer’s Quotebook: 500 Authors on Creativity, Craft, and the Writing Life. Rutgers Univ. Press, 2006)


Titillating Titles Trap the Readers 


Alliteration, derived from Latin’s “Latira,” means “letters of the alphabet.” It is a writing style in which several words have the same first consonant sound or occur close together in a series.

Titles are your first opportunity to capture your reader’s attention. Alliteration in your title is an excellent way to add interest. Even the best writers can produce a killer end sentence; however, the article will not get read if the title does not capture the reader. 

Still, titles pose a challenge. Some writers have a title in mind and then create the post. Other writers wait until they finish their post to determine if the title reflects the contents. Either way, a title or headline is the first opportunity for getting readers initially engaged and interested. 

Using alliteration is a quick way to engage your readers, meaning that they actually might make it to the end of your article. Toby Fulwiler and Alan R. Hayakawa list the following methods to hone in on your title.

  1. Use one short solid phrase from your article
  2. Present a question that your article answers
  3. State the answer to the problem that your essay will explore
  4. Use a clear or catchy image from your article
  5. Use a famous quotation
  6. Write a one-word title (or a two-word title, a three-word-title, and so on)
  7. Begin your title with the word On
  8. Begin your title with a gerund (-ing word)


Famous, Favorite, and Finely Tuned Titles


Think it’s only desperate or amateur writers who use literary devices? No, we’ve all read or studied many authors who have effectively used alliteration in their titles. Goodreads gives us the top 100 titles, but here are some examples.

  • Angela’s Ashes
  • East of Eden
  • Gone Girl
  • Love’s Labors Lost
  • Of Mice and Men
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • The Great Gatsby
  • The Wind in the Willows
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy


Alliteration is the Feel of the Words


Alliteration is as much about the feel of the words as the repetition of a specific letter. JK Rowling uses alliteration in character names as well as anyone. Who can forget:

  • Helga Hufflepuff
  • Rowena Ravenclaw
  • Godric Gryffindor
  • Salazar Slytherin

Think it’s only for kids? Hemingway, Capote, and Fitzgerald used this literary device in passages:

  • “Women and kids were in the carts crouched with mattresses, mirrors, sewing machines, bundles.”
  • “Then, starting home, he walked toward the trees and under them, leaving behind him the big sky, the whisper of wind voices in the wind-bent wheat.”
  • “So, we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”


Laundry List of Awesome Alliterations


Now that you know that alliteration isn’t always cheesy, sleazy, and second-rate, check out a site dedicated to alliteration. 

It might just be the prompt you need to include alliteration in your article. Each writer finds their voice, or their particular writing style emerges with each piece they write. Your perspective may be an expository, descriptive, persuasive, or narrative essay.  

Please become familiar with these four styles as they will help you develop your writing talents; however, all four types or categories can use alliteration.


Challenge: What Will You Write?


Taking a stab, here’s my offering. If you comment, make it alliterative, thanks.

Writers write well-written words of wisdom, wit, and wonder. Who knew it would be this wearisome waiting on wages? Click To Tweet




Bio: Marilyn L. Davis


Marilyn is the Editor-in-chief at Two Drops of Ink, an award-winning literary blog encouraging collaborative writing. The site’s writers are poets, problem-solvers for writers and bloggers, essayists, and represent worldwide countries, viewpoints, and opinions. 

She is also the author of Therapeutic Integrated Educational Recovery System and editor-in-chief at her recovery blog, 

Guest posts are accepted as it relates to addiction and recovery. 

Her recently published memoir is Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate. Her second book is Memories into Memoir: The Mindsets and Mechanics Workbook. 



Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing



When you’re ready to help us improve our writing, entertain us with a memoir, poetry, or personal essay, consider submitting. 









  1. I am a big fan of the “-ing” gerund advice. I titled my first novel using that idea and find that when I am titling other novels, that preference keeps coming back.

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment, LM Burns. Also, I appreciate you reinforcing how gerunds amp up a title. I see that you’ve used them in some of your Linkedin posts as well.

      As a teacher, I’m sure you realize that if we don’t capture them with the title, we’re probably not going to get them to read the content, so I think that alliteration is sometimes a quick way to get students, and in my case, readers, interested.

      Again, thanks for adding to the intent of the post.

    • Hi, Trish. I appreciate the reblog. There is a poetry to alliteration, and for a non-fiction writer like myself, that’s about as close as I can get some days. But that’s like horse shoes and hand grenades isn’t it?

      Again, thanks for commenting and promoting.

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