How to Write Polysyndeton
You can include polysyndeton in your writing very easily. Anytime you have to list multiple items, simply connect them with a repeated conjunction.
I came back from the store with eggs, bread, milk, and butter.
I came back from the store with eggs and bread and milk and butter.
This street needs a theater, a concert hall, or a museum.
This street needs a theater or a concert hall or a museum.
When to Use Polysyndeton
When you use polysyndeton, it’s useful to think of it as a rhetorical device, not purely a literary one. Rhetoric is the art of communication, expression, and persuasion, whether in writing or speech. So a rhetorical device is one that is frequently used in public oratory (speech-giving) as well as in literature (think of the first example in this article, it was part of a campaign speech, not a written text).
In other words, polysyndeton works just as well (perhaps better!) when spoken out loud. Think of a powerful speaker standing onstage, speaking emphatically and pounding the podium with a clenched fist to punctuate each carefully-chosen word. That’s the sort of energy that polysyndeton can bring to your writing when it’s used effectively.
One of the best places to employ polysyndeton is when you want to create a “piling up” effect of forceful statements in a short space of time. All three examples in Section II use polysyndeton in this way. They all make very strong claims about political success (#1), the dedication of postal workers (#2), or the extreme importance of love (#3). Yet they do this with a very small number of words!
Be careful when using polysyndeton. If used excessively, it can break up the flow of your sentences and make them seem unnecessarily confusing. However, when used carefully, on just a few well-chosen sentences, it can invigorate your writing and give it a little extra punch.
The other danger of polysyndeton is that it can make your work seem overwrought or informal if it’s used too much. In formal essays, research papers, etc., it’s usually best to avoid rhetorical flourishes like polysyndeton and adopt a more straightforward tone. This doesn’t mean you should never use polysyndeton in a research paper – just that you need to be more careful and use it more sparingly.