Ahh, alliteration! Is it a delightful device or a pitfall of perilous phrasing? Considering that it took me 30 minutes to come up with the headline and the first sentence of this entry, I’m leaning towards “pitfall.”
I exaggerate, of course. The answer is somewhere in between. It can be catchy and cute. Or it can seem formidably forced, and therefore terribly trying to your nerves
Used sparingly, alliteration certainly has its place. Cleverly placed, it helps a sentence flow quite nicely and the reader may not even notice it. It can be an attention grabber as well, and it is often easier to remember people or places with alliterative names. Dunkin’ Donuts, anyone?
A few other devices to use with caution:
Ellipses… ok… great to show off a phrase, or to slow down a narrative… but really, how often should you use them? If you are writing content that is more professional or serious in tone, I would say never. But an ellipsis or two may work in a more lighthearted or whimsical context.
Dashes – my favorite – I use them all the time! Then I have to go back and take some out. I use them to add a little bit of interest to a sentence – pay attention to this! – or to really make a phrase stand out. Again, it depends on the tone you are trying to convey and the client. An artist might appreciate a dash or two; a lawyer, maybe not.
Exclamation points! Everyone is using them now! Is everyone angry? A well-placed exclamation draws attention to a sentence, and conveys excitement and a sense of fun. Too many, and you detract from the point you are trying to make. I’ve been known to stop reading books that use too many exclamation points. (And books that deliberately misuse grammar, but that is a post for a different day.)
I used ellipses, dashes, and exclamations, sparingly of course, in one of my favorite website content jobs: labaguettememphis.com/. I think it worked to convey the bakery’s wonderful charm!