When you remember something you read from years ago; when someone says just two words of the text you go into automatic recall and quote the rest of the words – how powerful are those words?
How do we learn to give our own words that power? What tools do we use? How can we see if the effect is what we want it to be?
We learn how to see the patterns, the rhythm, the structure of the words in the sentence, the sentence in the paragraph, the paragraph in the scene, the scene in the sequence, the sequence in the arc, the arc/s in the structure.
And just what does that mean?
When we consider how we are going to make our writing persuasive, we must consider the word rhetoric because that is what rhetoric means: put the words together in such a way that they become highly persuasive.
Parallelism (structure), epistrophe (end), consonance (consonants), anaphora (beginnings), alliteration (sound), assonance (vowel), anadiplosis (several words at end): these terms define ways of using repetition in various places in writing to create a powerful effect.
We know about things like similes, metaphors, euphemism, hyperbole, irony, onomatopoeia (kapow), understatement, paradox, analogy, catalogue, contrast, synonym, oxymoron, pun, personification. We do know about them, don’t we? Should we? Do we need to understand what these things are, how they work, where to put them and when, why they work in some places and not others?
Yes, we do. We need to understand why we feel a certain point in a piece of writing needs to be the power moment, needs to be beefed up, and how to give it just what it needs to express the full impact of what we (the author) expect of it. Think also of rhythm, pattern, pace (words that make background music to the reader).
We also need to understand where the power point should be. If you put it in the middle of something, it can get lost by the words before and after; if you put it at the end, you leave the reader with the ‘ah ha’ of the moment; if you put it at the beginning – no, you tell me what it does! I’m going writing!