Friday, April 20, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge: R is for...


For my entries in the 2012 A to Z Challenge, I will be focusing on writing elements that I find important and that I want to incorporate into my work.

Today, the topic is RHYTHM.

I’m a writer.  Well, OK – I guess until I achieve some measure of publication, I’m an aspiring writer.

But I’m also a musician.  I’ve played guitar for over 35 years. So it’s natural (or at least familiar) for me to think in terms of rhythm, beat, syncopation, accent, and dynamics. 

Rhythm is all around us – the beating of our heart, the ebb and flow of our breath, the tempo of day into night, the cycle of the seasons. Our lives themselves are immersed, surrounded, and defined by rhythm,

So it needs to be there in my writing, too.  Plot pacing, scene tempo, dialogue diction, and even the word-choices of my description all benefit form a sense of timing. 

I want there to be the proper beat to my prose, the right ebb and flow in my descriptions, the perfect tempo in my character development, and a fully-developed cycle in my plot.

So I’m striving to not repeat words unless I’m doing it intentionally to accent a beat; varying sentence length to compliment what I’m describing – fast and short for action, slow and long for rest; letting my characters reveal themselves within the proper timing; and constructing my plot to complete a cycle of rise and fall.

It’s not always easy.  But when it works, my writing is so much better for it.   

And you want to know one of the best ways I’ve found to test my work for the right rhythms?  Reading it aloud.  Better yet -- recording it and then playing it back. 

Sure, it can be painful to listen to when it doesn’t work out so well, but for me, this is a great way to appraise the rhythm and give a work that final check before declaring it “finished.”

So gimme a beat and let’s start writing!

Thanks for visiting -- see you the rest of this month for more alphabetical fun!

Don't forget to visit HERE to see all the bloggers taking part in this A-to-Z challenge, and try to drop in on as many of them as you can!


Jessica Salyer said...

Sometimes when I get a good scene going in my head and I'm driving I record it on my phone. Then I always cringe later as I play it back. But, I usually works.

Jessica said...

Love the reminder of rhythm in writing.

And I'd like to point out that you *are* a writer. Writers write, regardless of whether they're published or not. :)

Cherie Larkins said...

Love this! I write with rhythm in mind, too. I like it when words flow together.

Tonja said...

I read my chapters out loud when I'm in the editing stage. Great post.

Nancy Thompson said...

I always read my work out loud. And I am so attuned to the rhythm of words. It's so true that every sentence has cadence and writers have to listen to that cadence and feel how it flows. I often dream of writing, sometimes coming up with plot twists or new dialogue, but most often, it's just the rhythm of words, rather than the words themselves, flowing through my relaxed mind. Weird, I know. Shhh...

Chris Fries said...

@Jessica S.: Yeah it can produce shudders in me when I hear my own voice. It just sounds so much different from the inside, lol!

@Jessica: Thank you very much! I appreciate the kind words and your support!

@Cherie: Oh, me too! Rythm is one of those minor things that's still important to me. I write prose, not poetry, but I still want a smooth rythm and cadence to my writing.

@Tonja: I only do it at the 'final' stage, just for a last check. And admittedly, I haven't done it for every piece, but it does always help. Once I get past the, "oh my god, I sound like a complete idiot!" reaction to my voice, lol!

@Nancy: Not weird at all. I totally understand. I sometimes dream of writing, and will wake up with what seems like a great idea, but then it's gone before I can write it down. I often think of the Seinfeld episode where he wakes up, writes down the "best joke ever!" and then can't read it the next day. ;^)

Nicole said...

I'm a big believer of rhythm in writing - especially in dialogue. When it's done well, the words really do seem to sing. :)

Chris Fries said...

@Nicole: I agree! Thanks for the comment!