“[Much like consonance], assonance is generally a patterning of vowel sounds without regard to consonants. The patterning may be successive” (A Handbook to Literature). “Repetition of vowel sounds in a sequence of words with different endings—for example, ‘The death of the poet was kept from his poems’ in W. H. Auden’s ‘In Memory of W. B. Yeats'” (Norton).
early 18th cent.: from French, from Latin assonare ‘respond to,’ from ad- ‘to’ + sonare (from sonus ‘sound’). (New Oxford American)
Assonance Writing Exercise
Choose a section of summary narration from a current writing project that is close to being completed. Summary narrations are excellent moments for using lyrical language to not only add atmosphere but also to drawn your reader more closely. Using the above example, employ the same repetitive vowel phonetics in a line or two of your summary narration. Study the rest of the section for moments when the same assonance might be used in order to create additional fluidity. You might also open and close the summary narration with the same vowel repetition. Revisiting a previous linguistic pattern can create an effective cyclical movement within a section. It can also be a way to alert the reader to the patterning.
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A Handbook to Literature. William Harmon.
“Cogito et Histoire de la Folie.” Jacques Derrida.
The Elements of Style. William Strunk.
New Oxford American Dictionary. Edited by Angus Stevenson and Christine A. Lindberg.
The Norton Anthology of World Literature. Martin Puchner, et al.
The Norton Introduction to Philosophy. Gideon Rosen and Alex Byrne.
Woe is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English. Patricia T. O’Conner
Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft. Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French & Ned Stuckey-French.
Writing the Other. Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward.« Back to Reference Index