Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Fix: The Power of Parallelism

Today's Friday Fix is not so much a "fix" as it is a suggestion for improved writing. It also works great in verbal communication situations. And "it" is...

Parallelism!

Oh yeah, baby, this little gem is used for emphasis, making your audience sit up and take notice. It provides sort of a cadence of familiarity while driving home a point.

So I'm sure you're saying to yourself by now oh, Friday Fix Lady, please share how to use parallelism so that I, too, can emphasize my insights and drive my points home to my readers and listeners.

But of course.

Parallelism is simply using parallel structure. It can occur within a single sentence, among several sentences, or even throughout paragraphs. "We came; we saw; we conquered" is more memorable than "We showed up and saw what was going on and then we kicked some butt." Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech makes beautiful use of parallelism throughout, giving each "I have a dream that one day..." segment progressively more power with each repetition as he builds momentum for new, vivid ideas.

Consider this excerpt from the most recent post on the Olive Branch:

If anger is our issue, I can assure you that God wants to help us deal with that because we’ll be a lot happier if we’re not honked off all the time.

If being offended is our issue, I can assure you that God wants to help us with that because we’ll be a lot happier if our feelings aren’t hurt all the time.

If fear is our issue, I can assure you that God wants to help us with that because we’ll have a happier life if we learn to trust God instead of living in a state of worry all the time. (Thanks for your permission to use this, Missy!)

See how each sentence is structured the same way? By the time we read the beginning of the second point, we sense the repeated cadence and tune in a little closer. By the end of the third sentence we feel a sense of completion as all the ideas are unified through parallelism.

Do ya get it? Don't ya love it? Won't ya use it?

A lot of great quotes ranging from historical to pop culture are memorable because of parallelism. I'd love to see you leave a comment of any that come to mind! Let's have a parallelism party; post below! Whoot Whoot!

1 comment:

nicole said...

friday fix lady,

i love reading these every friday. they make me laugh because you are so darn funny.

and i learn something too. hahaha.