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Tricolons and Antithesis

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with the concepts of repetition to create more effective arguments and impassioned speeches in my stories.

Two of these repetitive methods are called tricolons and antithesis.

Tricolons where the same phrase structure is used three times in equal, growing, or shrinking fashion to hammer home a point.

Some examples of tricolons are:

  • Veni, vidi, vici. (I came, I saw, I conquered.) – Julius Caesar
  • I would not eat them here or there.
    I would not eat them anywhere.
    I would not eat green eggs and ham.
    I do not like them, Sam-I-am.  – Dr. Seuss
  • “… that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” – the US Declaration of Independence

Using these same structures can help you to create something that draws your reader’s interest, such as:

  • You must crawl before you walk, walk before you run, and run before you leap.
  • Start small, start early, and start now.
  • I fell down on my luck, fell on the couch, and fell asleep.

Antithesis, on the other hand, works a bit differently.  Instead of simply repeating the same structures, you use contrast to make your point.

A few examples:

  • Many will enter, few will win. – virtually every radio contest
  • Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. – John F. Kennedy
  • If pro is the opposite of con, what is the opposite of progress? – Author unknown

You can then use these same structures to create something interesting in your own stories.

  • So many arrows, so little time.
  • Don’t hide away from your fears; fear that which you hide.

What examples of tricolons and antithesis have you used in your writing?

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