meter · Poetry · rhyme · rhythm · stress · Verbs

Writing in Rhyme Tip 2 – Stress

 

 

So today’s tip focuses on syllable stress and the easiest way to do that, I think, is to look at words known as heteronyms.

A heteronym is…, according to the definition found on The Heteronym Page

…a word that has the same spelling as another word but with a different pronunciation and meaning.

The words that I’d like to concentrate on are the ones whose definition changes according the position of the stress placed upon it.

Here are some examples.

Desert

If you stress the first syllable DEZ-urt – you are describing a dry, baron place.

If you stress the second syllable di-ZURT – this is a verb meaning to abandon.

Following is a couplet that looks like it should rhyme but it does not. Why doesn’t it?

 

I feel that I must now assert

That Simpson’s a sandy desert

If we bold the syllables, that in natural speech, are stressed, we’ll find that a pattern emerges.

 

i FEEL that i MUST now aSSERT

That SIMPson’s a SANdy DESert

Can you see the problem?

The pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables has been disrupted.

The previously established pattern (stressed, unstressed, unstressed, stressed, unstressed unstressed, stressed) requires the reader to mispronounce the word “desert” so that the stress falls on the second syllable.

While this scenario is unlikely I think it highlights a common problem when writing in rhyme.

Another example that I use in my book “Rhyme Like the Experts” may help to clarify the issue.

 

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
Filled her mouth with one strawberry

So in order for this to rhyme, the writer needs the reader to mispronounce the word “strawberry” so that it sounds like this… strawBEHrry to rhyme with conTRAHry.

What I urge all writers of rhyme to do is to get their work read aloud by someone else. A fresh eye will immediately pick up where the writer has manipulated a word to fit the meter. The new reader will read the words as they would in natural speech and will trip up if the pattern is disrupted due to the stress position of certain words.

Clear as mud?

If you have any questions, please post them below in the comments section.

Happy rhyming :-)

 

meter · Poetry · rhyme · rhythm · stress

RHYME LIKE THE EXPERTS

RHYME LIKE THE EXPERTS is a PDF booklet to help would be writers of rhyme do just that.

Written simply it explains concepts such as…

  • SYLLABLES
  • WORD STRESS
  • METRICAL FEET
  • METER
  • RHYME
  • COMMON MISTAKES

While it doesn’t use an abundance of techinical or complicated language it does introduce you to some poetic terms.

For example, did you know that the English language natually contains words that can be described as Iambs?

An Iamb is a cluster of two syllables or language sounds that comprise one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable.

Iambic words would include…

pretend

forget

divulge

On my poetry tips blog I have likend writing iambic verse to knitting (scroll down to Tip 3), knit one, pearl one…

And to give an example of a verse written in iambic pentameter [where pentameter = 5 iambic feet (syllable chunks)]

Here’s one I prepared earlier…

I’ve searched and searched my archives deepest files

It’s taken quite substantial blocks of time

And though I’ve written verse in range of styles

Iambic pent-a-meter’s not my rhyme

Below is what I call a syllable grid – which illustrates which syllables are stressed and which are not – thus revealing the pattern or meter.

I’ve searched and searched my ar chives deep est files
It’s ta ken quite sub stan tial blocks of time
And though I’ve wri tten verse in range of styles
I am bic pent a me ter’s not my rhyme
meter · Picturebooks · rhyme · rhythm

Winners of the 2012 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards announced

How excited am I?

No I’m not a winner in the awards but the genre I write in is.

Hooray for Goodnight, Mice! 

Winner of the 2012 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards – children’s fiction category

 

Goodnight, Mice! is a gorgeous picture book written by Frances Watts,  illustrated by Judy Watson and published by HarperCollins.

A gorgeous picture book written in ……rhyme!

 

Kiss Dad once.

Cuddle Mum twice.

‘Goodnight, Mum and Dad.’

‘Goodnight, mice.’

 

Could it be, dare I hope that good old rhyme is back in fashion?

Looking around my office I can see books by Glenda Millard, Sally Odgers, Nick Bland, Doug McLeod and guess what – they all rhyme. Joy of joys!

The judges comments, also reiterate the importance of the rhyming story when they say…

Watts’s words sing with rhyme and repetition, making them excellent linguistic tools for small children…

 

Here’s some information about Goodnight, Mice! – It’s taken from the HarperCollins website.

Book Description

Kiss Dad once.

Cuddle Mum twice.

′Goodnight, Mum and Dad.′

′Goodnight, mice.′

It′s time to say goodnight — but the four cheeky mice skittering, scampering and scurrying to bed don′t seem very sleepy!

This warm, affectionate story is the perfect bedtime book for the whole family to share.

A CBCA Notable Book

Winner in the 2012 Prime Minister′s Literary Awards

Praise for GOODNIGHT, MICE!:

′the perfect bedtime book … told at a cleverly thought-out pace that should ensure a yawn before the final page … Illustrator Judy Watson′s detailed expressions on the four mouslings are fun, funny and rewarding upon further visits′ COURIER-MAIL

′an ideal bedtime read for parents keen on winding things down for the sleepy train. Squeak!′ KIDS-BOOKREVIEW.COM

′a story filled with warmth and family love … This is sure to become a book young children and parents will be happy to read again and again′ AUSSIEREVIEWS.COM

′utterly flawless use of rich and poetic language … a bedtime story to read aloud with gusto, to delight in and to savour. Very highly recommended′ SYDNEY′S CHILD

′this is a charming, funny and reassuring story for littlies to follow the going-to-bed ritual … Recommended′ MAGPIES

′Watts knows how to break up a story′s rhythm by using a refrain, making a story which will be read again and again. Watson′s mice are individuals and the many untold stories in the pictures will be pored over by avid three and four-year-old listeners.′ WEST AUSTRALIAN

Ages: 2+

 

So once again – a hearty congratulations from me and a great big cheer for the rambunctious, rollicking, rhyming, read.

 

 

meter · Poetry · rhyme · rhythm · Writing

The School Magazine

Orbit – July 2012. Cover image by Andrew Joyner

 

Today I would like to blog about The School Magazine which is part of the NSW Curriculum and Learning Innovation Centre.

Australian children have been delighted by the The School Magazine since 1916 – that’s 96 years. That’s incredible.

Today I was thrilled, once again, to have two more of my poems accepted by this marvelous publication.

Orbit 2005 – Cover image by Tom Jellett

The first poem that The School Magazine accepted of mine was called “If I Were a Giant” This poem was illustrated by Kim Gamble of Tashi fame.

I cannot even begin to describe the thrill of seeing my poem illustrated by someone that I had never even met.

I’d caught the bug.

I just loved the idea of someone reading my words and those words causing images to dance around a complete stranger’s brain to be spilled onto their canvas thus binding us together like a hug.

Honestly it’s the most fun anyone can have!

My latest School Magazine poem, not the two recently accepted but the one most recently published is called The Crows and it appears on page 17  in this month’s July editon of Orbit.

The Crows has been illustrated by the very talented Veronica Rooke and I couldn’t be happier, thank you Veronica, in fact thank you to all The School Magazine staff for your time and effort to ensure that each publication is of the highest quality, always.

Now if anyone is interested in hearing me perform some of my poetry, I will be appearing at The Sutherland Shire Writers’ Festival on Monday 12th November 2012 at Grays Point Primary School in the Sutherland Shire.

 

Do come along. I’ll be desperate to see some friendly faces 🙂

Picturebooks · Publishing · rhyme · Writing

NEVER GIVE UP

Every week in PASS IT ON I hunt down an inspirational quote. Last week I included a quote by Harriett Beecher Stowe who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.

Earlier that day, so last Monday (25th June) I received my copy of The School Magazine (Orbit) that contained a poem of mine called The Crows.

This poem had been accepted for publication five years ago, and while I hadn’t forgotten about it completely, it certainly wasn’t something that was on my mind and so came as a lovely suprise when it finally did arrive, rekindling that spark that I felt was beginning to fade. I think this is why I chose that particular quote because it really resonated with me and helped me to remember why I write in the first place, because I love playing with words, I love their sounds, their shapes, their ability to stir up emotions, their musicality, their beauty and their power.

As you know, earlier this year I received a Maurice Saxby Mentorship. I received this mentorship for one reason only – I applied for one. If I hadn’t applied I would have had no chance at all. I read another quote the other day, not sure who said it but it went something like…

To increase your success rate you must double your failure rate.

This is something that I think I had forgotten until quite recently. Appying for the mentorship was the first challenge I’d set myself in a long time. I’d been resting on my laurels, content with past successes yet knowing that I needed to take the next step if I was ever to realize my dream.

Another quote that comes to mind…

Nothing succeeds like success.

Which brings me to why I have written this post titled NEVER GIVE UP.

On Tuesday 26th June, I received a phone call. THE phone call. The one that we writers all dream of receiving one day. The one that takes your breath away, that puts jelly in your legs and tears in your eyes. The one that makes you so, so glad that you never gave up. THAT phone call.

And now I can call myself author!

So if any of you reading this have found yourself feeling less than enthusiastic about the direction in which your writing is going – step outside your comfort zone, do something different, something new, something scary. Allow yourself to feel vulnerable, allow yourself to fail but whatever you do… DON’T EVER, EVER, EVER GIVE UP!!

meter · Poetry · rhyme · rhythm · stress · Writing

Anonymous poet No. 8

Humpty Dumpty

.

When Humpty Dumpty was a boy
he asked his hard-boiled mum
“Why didn’t you boil me longer,
so if I broke I wouldn’t run?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

As you can see Anonymous poet No. 8 is also a very talented illustrator.

.

Inserted into a syllable grid we have…

 

 

 

.

.

When Hump ty Dum ty was a boy
he asked his hard boiled mum
Why did n’t you boil me long er
so if I broke I would n’t run

.

The first two lines read smoothly with a consistent iambic meter.

The second two, not so smooth. I would suggest…

.

When Hump ty Dum ty was a boy
he told his hard boiled mum
You should have boiled me long er
Now I’m broke and on the run

.

I’ve been a bit cheeky here but I couldn’t resist..

.

When Humpty Dumpty was a boy
he told his hard-boiled mum
“You should have boiled me longer;
now I’m broke, and on the run!”

.

Thank you Anonymous poet No. 8 please expect my e-book shortly.

meter · Poetry · rhyme · rhythm · stress · Writing

Anonymous poet No. 7

Some live in houses, and some live in huts.

Some carry water and some gather nuts.

Each child is different yet all are the same.

With dreams of a future while still playing games.

 

 

.

 

Children are the same from their head to their toes

Just different coloured skin and shape of their nose.

Some children dance and sway with the breeze

While others like to tussle and climb up the trees.

 

 

 

I’ll work on this is two parts.

 

 

First part…

 

 

 

  Some live in hous es and some live in huts
  Some carr y wa ter and some gath er nuts
  Each child is differ ent yet all are the same
With dreams of a fut ure while still play ing games

 

 

No problem with meter in this first verse. As you can see there is a consistent pattern – one stressed syllable and two unstressed syllables. My only comment is with line 4 where some folk will want to place a stress on the first syllable PLAYing. To avoid this possible trip up point I would suggest…

 

 

They dream of a fut ure while play ing with games

 

 

Not perfect but just trying to demonstrate that it is preferable to use word stress in its natural state as this is how the average reader will read it.

 

Also you’ll note that I’ve split the word ‘different’ into two syllables rather than three. This is because that is how most people pronounce it. Not too many say diff-er-ent – of course some will and they will trip here.

Second part…

 

 

Children are the same from their head to their toes

Just different coloured skin and shape of their nose.

Some children dance and sway with the breeze

While others like to tussle and climb up the trees.

 

 

Chil dren are the same from their head to their toes  
Just differ ent col oured skin and shape of their nose  
Some chil dren dance and sway with the breeze      
While oth ers like to tuss le and climb up the trees

 

 

You can see that this verse is a little less structured which is jarring after reading the first verse. I would suggest…

 

 

  Kids are the same from their head to their toes
Their skin chang ing shade with the shape of their nose
  Some child ren dance as they sway with the breeze
While oth ers like tuss ling and climb ing up trees

 

 

Thank you Anonymous poet No. 7. I’ll be sending you a copy of my e-book “How to write Rhyme like the Experts”.

meter · Poetry · rhyme · rhythm · stress · Verbs · Writing

Anonymous poet No.6

FLIGHT TO JAPAN

 

Bumpity bump through the sky

Who said this big bird can fly

When do you think we will be there?

We can’t get off in the air.

 

.

Packed like sardines in a can

In this big hibiscus van

As we wing off through the sky

Japanese staff are nearby.

.

 

 

 

 

 

Bum pi tiy bump through the sky
Who said this big bird can fly  
When do you think we will be there
We can’t get off in the air  
Packed like sar dines in a can  
In this big hi bis cus van  
As we wing off through the sky  
Ja pan ese staff are near by  

 

 

 

I think I’ll break this one down into its rhyming couplets.

 

When I first read this I paused after ‘bump’ which threw out the second line.

 

 

This is how I read it…

 

Bum pi tiy bump ~ through the sky
Who said this big bird can fly  

 

And I wanted to change the second line to…

 

Who was it said this bird can fly

 

Bumpity bump; through the sky

Who was it said, this bird can fly

 

If we read it without the pause we get…

 

 

Bum pi tiy bump through the sky
Who said this big bird can fly

 

however some people will want to stress the word ‘said’ rather than ‘who’ I know I do. I’d prefer to say…

 

Who said that this big bird can fly

 

Bumpity bump through the sky

Who said that this big bird can fly?

 

Next couplet…

 

When do you think we will be there
We can’t get off in the air  

 

 

So to keep with the meter I would suggest

 

When do you think we’ll be there
We can’t dis em bark in the air

 

When do you think we’ll be there?

We can’t disembark in the air

 

Next couplet…

 

Packed like sar dines in a can
In this big hi bis cus van

 

To use the word hibiscus we need to fit it here…

 

Packed like sar dines in a can
    hi bis cus    

 

So…

 

Packed like sar dines in a can
In side this hi bis cus se dan

 

Hmmmm – not sure about a hibiscus sedan. Maybe try changing the first line.

 

Packed like sar dines in a flan
In side this hi bis cus tin can

 

Packed like sardines in a flan

Inside this hibiscus tin can

 

Moving on…

 

As we wing off through the sky
Ja pan ese staff are near by

 

 

 

  Soar ing a round in the sky
With Jap an ese staff stand ing by

 

So we now have…

 

Bumpity bump through the sky

Who said that this big bird can fly?

When do you think we’ll be there?

We can’t disembark in the air

Packed like sardines in a flan

Inside this hibiscus tin can

Soaring around in the sky

With Japanese staff standing by

 

 

If we now insert this into a syllable grid we get…

 

 

  Bum pi tiy bump through the sky
Who said that this big bird can fly
  When do you think we’ll be there
We can’t dis em bark in the air
  Packed like sar dines in a flan
In side this hi bis cus tin can
  Soar ing a round in the sky
With Ja pan ese staff stand ing by

 

 

Thank you Anonymous poet No. 6. My e-book is on its way.

meter · Poetry · rhyme · rhythm · stress · Verbs · Writing

Anonymous poet No. 5

Here is a verse from a rhyming story I wrote.

.

He just about had her; this was it, this was it!!

But then, oh my goodness, do you know what she did?

She turned around slowly. She could smell him you see.

I did say he was stinky. He was very smelly.

 

Straight into this one…

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

He just a bout had her ; this was it this was it
But then oh my good ness , do you know what she did
She turned a round slow ly . She could smell him you see
I did say he was stink y He was ve ry smell y

 

 

 

This one has an interesting meter that can’t really be categorised easily. Having said that you can still see that the pattern is predicable, all except for the last line so let’s work on that one.

 

 

I did say he was stink y He was ve ry smell y

 

So you can see that there is an extra syllable in the first part of the line. The author will know to rush over these words so that they fit into two beats instead of three. Some new readers will do this too, some will not. Best to remove the potential problem.

 

The second issue is a very common mistake made when writing in rhyme. Even though the last syllable in the word ‘smelly’ ends in an ‘ee’ sound, it is an unstressed syllable. In order is rhyme ‘smelly’ with ‘see’ the reader is expected to pronounce the word ‘smelly’ incorrectly. The correct pronunciation is SMELLy with the stress falling on SMELL – like jelly, belly etc. So to rhyme with ‘you see’ we need to say jell-EE.

The word ‘very’ though not as obvious, is often, in natural speech rushed over and so can be regarded as a one syllable word. You really have to enunciate to get two beats out of it.

 

Having said that what would I suggest?

 

Perhaps…

 

 

I said he was stink y . Well he smelled terr i bly

 

or, if you want to jazz it up a little…

 

He was pu trid and rot ten . And he smelled terr i bly

 

 

Although not perfect, I’m not thrilled with ‘terribly’ though I think it is an improvement, I’m sure you can see what I mean. Also note that there are two syllables at the beginning of the line – again in natural speech you would tend to blend this into one beat so the rhythm of the line is not interrupted.

 

The other option is to change the previous line…

 

She turned a round slow ly . She could smell him you know
He was pu trid and rot ten . From his head to his toe

 

I think I prefer this.

 

Thanks Anonymous poet No. 5. I’ll be sending your e-book “How to write Rhyme like the Experts” directly.

 

.

meter · Poetry · rhyme · rhythm · stress · Writing

Anonymous poet No. 4

Jingle Stupid Bells (About a little black cat who thinks he’s a panther.)

Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright…
Ha! I’m the panther in the night.
With tigers Blake was surely taken
But by Bastet, he was mistaken.

Panthers are by far superior
Than all the old tiger hysteria.

.

Okay – so I had to do a little research after I read this and will pass on what I learned. This is probably common knowledge but I’ll include it just in case. William Blake wrote a poem ‘The Tiger’ in 1794 that begins…Tiger, tiger, burning bright… And Bastet is the Egyptian cat-headed goddess and I think we all know what panthers are.

Now I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to writing parodies. What makes a parody of a poem work is the ability of the author to stick strictly to the original meter. If you are going to begin your poem with such a famous line then I would expect the rest of the poem to continue in the same fashion. So let’s see how true this one is.

.

Here’s the original…

.

Ti ger ti ger burn ing bright
In the for ests of the night
What im mor tal hand or eye
Could frame thy fear ful sym me try

.

The meter is trochaic (mostly) – a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable with the final foot missing its unstressed mate. In fancy terms this final foot is catalectic.

It is written in rhyming couplets and each stanza or verse has four lines (a quatrain). So the rhyming pattern is AABB

.

Ti ger ti ger burn ing bright
Ha I’m the pan ther in the night
With ti gers Blake was sure ly tak en
But by Bas tet he was mis tak en

.

Anonymous poet No. 4’s verse is pretty similar with a few exceptions. You’ll note I’ve omitted the last two lines for an easier comparison.

.

Line by line edit…

.

Line 1

No problems there.

.

Line 2

Personally I would recommend removing the “Ha”. I don’t think it adds anything and I found it a bit jarring, wanting to begin the line with a stressed syllable. The rest of the line is good.

.

Line 3

Being the stickler I want to begin the line with a stressed syllable so maybe…

.

Blake with ti gers he was tak en

 

Line 4

 

But by Bas tet he was mis tak en

From my understanding the author is saying that Bastet prefers panthers to tigers. I’m happy to start the line with an unstressed syllable because Blake has done just that. But two unstressed syllables, no. In fact the meter falls apart in this last line and it is a bit difficult to understand. Using the pronoun ‘he’ is confusing. Who is the ‘he’ referring to, Blake or Bastet? Remembering that not everyone will know who Bastet is. So then I might suggest…

.

But Bas tet vows that Blake’s mis tak en

.

Lines 5 & 6

.

Panthers are by far superior
Than all the old tiger hysteria.

.

Pan thers are by far su per i or
Than all the old ti ger hys ter i a
Pan thers are su per i or
To ti ger myth hys ter i a

.

And so…

.

Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright

I’m the panther in the night

Blake with tigers, he was taken

But Bastet vows that Blake’s mistaken.

Panthers are superior

To tiger myth hysteria

 

Thank you Anonymous poet No 4. Your e-book is on its way.