1. Education
Richard Nordquist

R.L. Stevenson on Writing for the Ear

By December 3, 2012

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Beware of excessive assonance and alliteration, the handbooks say. Leave the sound effects to the poets.

In one of his early critical essays (published in 1874), young Robert Louis Stevenson upheld this view. "We must take exception," he wrote, "to the excesses of alliteration. Alliteration is so liable to be abused that we can scarcely be too sparing of it; and yet it is a trick that grows upon a writer with years."

Sure enough, as years passed the trick grew upon Stevenson himself. In 1885, after writing countless essays and the first draft of Kidnapped, he sounded a markedly different tune. . . .

For the complete article, see Assonance and Alliteration: Robert Louis Stevenson on Sound Effects in Prose.


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