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What we can all learn from Maya Angelou’s strong writing

You’ve probably noticed, since Maya Angelou’s death on May 28 – social media is awash  and alive with her famous inspiring quotes and wonderful words.




Two of the reasons her quotes are so strong are:

1. her powerful parallel structure

2. her powerful repetition


As a word nerd and political speech writer (and lover of the poetry or persuasion) – I’ll share with you some tips so you too can express yourself in the strong. memorable “MA Way”


Parallel structure is when you write lines that are similar and parallel in word structure – the same types of words in similar order.

Here’s a Maya Angelou example:



If I present her words like this, you can see the parallel structure – each “line” starting with a powerful verb – confuses, threatens renders  – all in the same tense.

Then there is the parallel expression of the past, the future, the present.


It strategically moves from past to future – then ends on the current concert – the present.


Here is another example that ripple with action – verbs. There are 5 verbs overall.   At the centre – the three in parallel structure: jumps, leaps, penetrates. 

The first strong,short sentence ( 4 words) sets up the statement. The following words (technically called a tricolon in parallel structure) elaborate.






I am not trying to gut the power of her writing through this dissection and analysis.


I hope to empower you – so you can express yourself with the same powerful style.


When  you have something to say – write down words (3 or 4 things work well – especially 3)  and arrange them in parallel structure.


I love how this last quote finishes strongly and majestically  on he uplifting words – full of hope.


On social media, there is even her last tweet. Because her writing is so strong and eloquent and engaging – I look forward to studying her tweeting style further to see what we can learn.

MA final tweet

Maya Angelou’s words will continue to:

live on

lift us up and

fill us with hope.


word nerd CU


If you enjoyed this post – Let’s connect:

If you found this post interesting you can follow me and connect with me.

I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious business communication tips.


Linked In – under Tony Biancotti

Or you can follow this blog.

These days, lots of people and organisations need help with how to COPE with too much work, too much information, too many meetings, delivering difficult news, business writing, effective e-mail, e-mail overload, cross-cultural communication etc. I like to help people COPE.



One comment on “What we can all learn from Maya Angelou’s strong writing

  1. efangelist
    May 10, 2017

    Reblogged this on efangelist and commented:

    An earlier post that leaps fences and gracefully and graciously illuminates the power of verbs and parallel structure.

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