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Monday, October 19, 2015

Week 42: Use Anaphora and Epistrophe for Eloquence

by Tamara Passey

If you missed the guest appearance by Yoda on last week's post by Valerie, go and check it out here. Don't worry, I'll wait. She introduces the techniques we will be discussing this week. As mentioned in the title, they are:

Anaphora and Epistrophe

No, I did not sneeze. No, I did not invent these words. And no, I did not find them in a catalog for exotic flowers. Though, like exotic flowers, if you can master these techniques they can add some beauty or (as Wilbers says) some eloquence  to your writing. 1

See what I did there in that paragraph? "Opened successive phrases with repeated words"2 --that's what classical rhetoricians called anaphora. 
A more eloquent example would be Patrick Henry's proclamation: "Give me liberty, or give me death." 
Can you see and hear how employing this technique makes the writing more memorable?

As for epistrophe, it is "closing successive phrases with repeated words." Like this: "Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat." (Excuse the digression, but I try to remember that quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald when I'm baking.) Or if you need another example, compare these two sentences:

"There's not a liberal and a conservative US; there's a United States of America."

"There's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's a United States of America." 3

(I'll try to remember that one during this presidential election season!)

I hope the difference is obvious between the two sentences. The latter has the emphasis and eloquence to drive the point home to your readers or listeners.

1. Mastering The Craft, Wilbers, p. 234 
2. Mastering The Craft, Wilbers, p. 234
3. Mastering The Craft, Wilbers, p. 236


  1. Give me outlines, give me meal plans, give me NaNo, but most of all, give me a FIRST DRAFT!