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Spice Up Your Writing with 4000 Year Old Secrets
By Paul Krantz

Two-thousand years before the birth of Christ, writers and editors were already trying to figure out what makes communication powerful. Specifically, they wanted to know how to create messages capable of winning over readers (well, actually, listeners). The result of this study is rhetoric. By using the right rhetorical tricks you too can add persuasive touches to your writing.

7 secrets of rhetoric

Rhetorical devices are sentence structures that exert a powerful effect on the listener. Sometimes they are called "figures of speech." Although you might not know the official name for these devices, you have certainly experienced them. "She's not a bad singer." That's litotes (lye TOE tees), where double negatives rule.Another example: "I'm not unfamiliar with his treachery."

Add oomph to your writing by picking one of the rhetorical devices below and trying it out. Not every device works with every writing style, so be sure you feel comfortable with the results.

Rhetoric for every ocassion

1. Alliteration. Repeating the first sound of a word.

 "Don't delay! You'll miss the deals!"

2 Onomatopoeia. Using a word that sounds like the action you are describing.

"In his expert hands, the steam iron snuffled smoothly over the fabric."

3.  Anaphora. Repeating a word or phrase at the beginning of several clauses.

"I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation,. . .
What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun."
--Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely--

4. Hypophora. Posing a question, which you then answer.

"What is George Bush doing about our economic problems?
He has raised taxes on the people driving pickup trucks and
lowered taxes on the people riding in limousines."
--Bill Clinton, 1992 speech to the Democratic National Committee--

5. Apostrophe. Interrupting a thought to address the listener directly.

"Drill a 1/8-inch pilot hole -- don't skip this step or you'll be sorry! -- then follow up with a 1/4 drill bit."

For many more devices and examples, visit this extensive figure of speech collection.
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