Saturday, April 16, 2011

m is for melody

melody is what gives your words and sentences cadence. If you read your work aloud you will hear when you're getting it right - and when you're not. Here are a few devices and examples:

Assonance; the repetition of vowel sounds, like this : "On the fifteenth of May, In the Jungle of Nool, In the heat of the day, in the cool of the pool..." Dr. Seuss/Horton Hears a Who (my personal favorite).

Rhyme: an exact correspondence between the last syllables of words, like this: "There's too many kids in this tub. There's too many elbows to scrub. I just washed a behind, That I'm sure wasn't mine, There's too many kids in this tub. Shel Silverstein/A light in the Attic.

Alliteration; the repetition of the initial sound - one or more letters - of words in a phrase or sentence, like this: She sells sea shells down by the sea shore.

Onomatopoeia; literally meaning 'name-making' this is when the sound of the word defines it, like Jaberwocky and Bandersnatch (Louis Carol), the Shrike (Dan Simmons/Hyperion), or the Grinch (Dr. Seuss).


* Constance Hale/Sin and Sintax - another great book that will teach you 'how to craft wickedly effective prose.'

7 comments:

  1. Onomatopoeia has got to be one of my most favourite of words!!

    Thanks for the handy explanations of these linguistic devices! Take care
    x

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  2. Whoa, weird... I *just* taught my students this stuff in our poetry unit this past week. :-D

    I always tell them, to read their work out loud to help with revision.

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  3. Language is like music. Just talking about it got my foot tapping. And, gawd, I love Shel Silverstein.

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  4. Thanks for the book recommendation.

    Yes, saying it out loud really helps you realize if it's flowing right.

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  5. Love this post. I love the literary forms you have presented so well. And I love your blog. You live about as far as you can from me north to south in the US because I am in south Florida. Amazing. I will be back.

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  6. Fantastic. I think melody is something that isn't discussed enough in relation to prose.

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