Elements of Eloquence Single Line Challenge, Chapters 12 and 13: Diacope and Rhetorical Questions

We should be able to handle these 2 chapters in 1 post.

Diacope is easy and fun. It’s the mechanical investing of rhetorical figures.

Rhetorical Questions, on the other hand, is dense and confusing. There’s a lot more to it than I expected there to be. That’s good news, though, because this is a challenge, not a jaunt in the nature preserve.

In the comments below, I’m going to try my hand at a few types of Rhetorical Question I hadn’t thought about using before. Join me!

Rhetorical Questions: the most obvious way to vary your syntax and spice up your style.

Diacope: Possibly the most fun way to do the same.

To find out what you’re missing, and then join me in this writing challenge, go read chapters 12 and 13 in Mark Forsyth’s excellent volume – delightful textbook of our autodidactic exercise – The Elements of Eloquence.

He didn’t say, “Should I stick around or not?” That’s because Hamlet was classically trained and thought it worthwhile to use Diacope – even when talking to himself, a person he was considering executing for helping himself to an outsized portion of misfortune.

Chapter 11
Chapters 14 – 17


  1. Broke. Just plain broke.
    They danced for hours; although they must part, they danced.
    Keep your eyes on me; for God’s sake, keep your eyes on me!
    Why, Mister? Why?
    I’m falling! I’m falling! I’m two miles up, and I’m falling!
    I love you. I’m promised to him, but I love you.
    We’re amputating the left foot. Not the right foot. The left foot.
    Get out of here, you. Get out.
    Freedom! My right hand for freedom!



  2. Was it for this that all my hours were spent? I have made many a midnight at the books; and now am blind.
    Shall we begin? First of all…
    Is it time already? Well, then, goodbye.
    May I hope that you are well?
    Shall I be your Mama for always and always?

    Are you seriously dumping me?
    What makes you think you can get away with it?
    Where are the children I suckled? And where are the lambs I loved?
    Where have all the good men gone? And where are all the gods? (And did I actually just borrow that one?)

    Why don’t we go and get an ice cream cone?
    Who’s the greatest?
    Is this the best little cabin in the woods, or what?
    You trust me, right?
    Why can’t we just go now?
    Where can you be comfortable, if not here?
    Wouldn’t you go to the ends of the earth for me?

    Who is the lord of the mountain? He who stands first on its peak!
    Will you go and come again? Only if you can cross the dessert in safety.
    Is this the best way? Of course not. Will it get us there? You betcha.

    Where can I get a drink at this time of night? At Henry’s? No; I forgot it was closed. At Billiger’s? But no; that manager hates me. At my friend’s house, then? No; he’ll be sleeping. At my own kitchen table? Ah, it’s not worth it; to bed!


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