This post forms part of a serialisation eventually building into a complete reference on Journaling for Creativity and the writer's notebook. One that will demonstrate how to journal in order to improve creativity and effectiveness of artists, writers or anyone needing to be creative.
This week’s journaling for creativity game is a fun exercise in combining word sounds by forming alliterations. The game can be played at any time, either as a quick mental exercise or as part of a longer diversion in your journal.
Alliteration is when the initial syllables of a word pair or series of words rhyme, as in “Donald Duck”. Consonants will only alliterate with themselves, whereas vowels are able to alliterate with any other vowel, as in “eternal atrocity.”
Note that we are considering the sound of the initial syllable not the letters, meaning that “pneumatic knees” alliterates, whilst “persistent pneumonia” does not.
There are many articles that advise against using alliteration in written works and so have given alliteration a bad press, the unfortunate effect of which is to cause many writers to avoid using even inadvertent alliterations. Whether you do or don’t use them in your project is a discussion to be followed outside of this article. However, forming alliterations is a useful mental exercise for the writer and the creative journaler.
An interesting and extreme example of the deliberate overuse of alliteration is “V’s introduction speech” from the film “V”. This YouTube video dramatises it further with dynamic typography and evocative colour choice.
How to play
If you find forming alliteration pairs or strings easy then this game can be played just for fun as a mental exercise to see what you can produce; remember to write any especially good ones down in your creative journal.
If you find it harder to form them, the best way to get started is to read examples of alliteration; a good list of examples can be found at YourDictionary: Alliteration Examples.
It is important to read these out aloud because your ears will be working on this problem along with your mind.
Next, try to form your own by picking a descriptive word with a distinctive initial syllable and then constantly repeat it out aloud whilst trying to mentally “attach” a related word with a similar sound. If you are still struggling then practice with on-line alliteration tools to get you going, a good example can be found at Rhymebrain.com.
Forming alliterations does become easier with practice and eventually even constructing strings or balanced pairs can be an entertaining mental diversion with surprising combinations thrown up from somewhere deep within your psyche.
The purpose of the game
At first, the game appears to be a purely linguistic exercise and therefore should be a left-brain, logical-mind task. However, since the sound of the word is key to making the alliteration work, and since sound is processed in our artistic right-brain, our creative-mind, the game guides both logical and creative minds into working together.
Whilst playing the game, you are also developing the ability to easily associate words together, as well as building up a collection of word associations that will gradually provide a useful source of diversity in your writing.
Why not take ten minutes and have a go at forming a few alliterations. When you are done, share your best ones with us in the comments area.
Related post: Alliteration: Proven Powerful Possibilities
Photo credit: Daffy Duck vs. Donald Duck, by JD Hancock.