1. BadPenny
    Offline

    BadPenny Member

    Joined:
    May 16, 2009
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    California

    Attack of the ANDs

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by BadPenny, Aug 19, 2009.

    Lately I've been trying to write poetry with set rhythms, and find myself using and entirely too much: to segue, to add a count, to set up a stressed syllable... I didn't even realize I was doing it. Now that it has been pointed out to me, I don't know how to take out the ands and keep the syllable counts.

    Help!
     
  2. Rumpole40k
    Offline

    Rumpole40k Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Messages:
    7,290
    Likes Received:
    54
    Location:
    Paradise City, Street of the Gods
    The most obvious solution to me would be to first write with the ands. You have developed the habit so use it as a frame work for yourself. Once you have established the frame work (with the offending ands in place) ask yourself what image do you really want to conjure up with each line. ( I recall one poem of your in which each line definitely had a distinct image each of which built to form the whole.) Once you have an idea of what image you wish to envoke remove the and and substitute it with something that will reinforce or strngthen the image. Initially, this may be as difficult as trying to maintain proper syllables in a sonnet, but with practice, you'll find your mind turning down and and grasping for other words instead.

    Good luck,

    ~R
     
  3. hiddennovelist
    Offline

    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2009
    Messages:
    10,256
    Likes Received:
    161
    Location:
    Fabulous Sin City
    Sound advice. When I write, I have a tendency to overuse certain words and phrases, but I just write it out that way and then when I go back and edit it, I change things. It's easier for me to get my ideas out on paper before going back and worrying about things I don't like.

    Another option would be to find syllables you can cut out of other lines, to make up for the syllables you're losing by cutting out the "ands." (sorry if that's obvious...I'm just saying...it's an option)

    My final (and favorite) suggestion is to just ignore the rules and rhythms of poetry. Of course, since you're trying to write with the rhythms, that suggestion is completely useless, but I've found some of my best poetry comes out when I'm just writing what I feel without worrying about fitting it into the right number of syllables.

    I hope that helps! If I think of any other ideas, I'll post them. :)
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. The Freshmaker
    Offline

    The Freshmaker <insert obscure pop culture reference> Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2006
    Messages:
    1,784
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    St. Petersburg, FL
    One thing someone once told me about learning music was that you should learn all the rules so that you can break them. Poetry going almost hand-in-hand with music, the same applies here. I looked at a couple of your poems, and I think that for the most part, you can just remove the and's without losing the overall rhythm. Keep in mind that you don't have to remove all of them; and is still a valuable conjunction.

    If it really bothers you, perhaps go back line by line and see if you can rephrase in a way that will salvage your desired rhythm.

    You write fairly well. Keep at it. :)
     
  5. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Don't just think in terms of syllable counts either - pay attention to the rhythm of the stressed syllables. You may find in some cases you do better by compromising on the syllable count and not breaking the beat pattern.

    In any event, the problem with and is it's a drop-in fix. Sometimes you have to drop a phrase entirely because it just doesn't fit. Poetry is hard. Wen you write a poem, first you choose the contract you will be committing to, e.g.: what rhythmic structure will you use? Will you use rhyme, and in what pattern?

    Once you commit to the contract, you need to stick to it, and that is part of the fun of crafting a poem. You challenge yourself to make the message fit well within those constraints. To do so, you exercise your vocabulary, your creativity, and your patience.

    So there's no easy answer to your question. It's kind of the point.
     
  6. Gannon
    Offline

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2007
    Messages:
    3,977
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    Manchester, England
    Some sound advice above and to add to it I'd like to say that a poem that is too restrictive in following a prescribed format if often awkward. If you're paying attention to meter, be aware that hyperbeats can open and close regular patterns and describe those beats that don't follow the pattern. The point here is that even the greats don't follow syllable counts and meter to the letter. A poem need only generally follow a structure to be categorised by it - thus, do not sacrifice flow and sense for the sake of rigidity and form.

    I had, and have, an attack of the -ings in my stuff. What I realised is that identifying a flaw is half way to solving it. Good luck.
     
  7. becca
    Offline

    becca New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2009
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    26
    Hmm, 'and' intersting problem. :D

    Ok, seriously. You know that you have an issue with using 'and' too much. So you can note it. The advice that has been given thus far is sound. Write with the 'and's and go back through and convert them to something else. Or, because you KNOW that you don't want to use them, when you write and are about to put in an 'and', pause and think if there is another way you can say what you want to say. That way, it will be easier to match you rythme as you go. I don't say rhyme because that is part of the rythme.

    When I write poetry (mostly rhyming), I feel the beat, as stated above, like the beats of music. It should flow through you and not feel force. I am a natural rhymer, I don't really try, it just comes out that way. But, some people have to learn this.

    If you are worried about the balance of your lines, do a syllable count. Count how many 'beats' are in each line, and but that number at the end of that line. Do this with all the lines. They don't all have to match, but if every verse has the same number at the same line, that will give you a concept of your balance and what might need changed or added.

    I hope this helped a little.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. Lydia
    Offline

    Lydia Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    Messages:
    5,915
    Likes Received:
    233
    Location:
    Somewhere out there.
    I read a poëm of yours and though there is the frequent usage of 'and', it didn't really bother me. (Of course, that was just one).
    When I write a poëm, it isn't always perfect from the first time. Sometimes I need to write it over and over, but words like 'and' can't always be replaced by any other word. Like said above, sometimes it still sounds good if you leave the 'and' out, but not all of them.
    Much of what I could say, is already said above, so I won't start repeating, but good luck with the rest of your writing! :)
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    True, sort of. When I spoke of sticking to the contract, I was oversimplifying. Planned deviations from the contract are often used for emphasis or focus. But awkwardness from sticking tightly to the contract usually means you simply haven't executed your poem well enough yet.
     
  10. Gigi_GNR
    Offline

    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2009
    Messages:
    12,143
    Likes Received:
    250
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    I agree with Rum. Write it with all the "ands." After, go back and look over it and see which ands can stay, and which can be replaced with another word or removed entirely. If they can't be removed or replaced cleanly you probably will have to reword the sentence.
     
  11. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    the easiest way to do away with ands is to substitute a comma... i mentor many aspiring poets, so if you want to send me a poem with that problem, i'll show you all the ways you can 'un-and' your work...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  12. BadPenny
    Offline

    BadPenny Member

    Joined:
    May 16, 2009
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    California
    Thank you everyone. You've given me much to think about. Does anyone know of a helpful reference for working with rhythms? I'm also having trouble with identifying the natural stresses within words and phrases. Thanks again!
     
  13. Xeno
    Offline

    Xeno Mad and Bitey Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2008
    Messages:
    4,777
    Likes Received:
    53
    Location:
    Stratford-upon-Avon, England
    This sounds like good, solid advice to me, because I have a problem where I do the complete opposite, i.e. refrain from using 'and' by replacing them all with commas, which can get very obvious when I read it through. A good thing to try and do is get a good balance between the two and figure out where in your sentences the two should go.

    Then again, I'm not really that much of a writer. :p
     
  14. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i don't know of any reference, but i'm working with a budding poet right now, who's having the same problem, so if you want to join my list of mentees, just drop me a line...

    it helps to read rhymed poems aloud, so you can 'feel' the emphasis, as well as hear it... you should probably start with the simplest, most obviously rhythmic pieces, like some nursery rhymes, or sonnets with clear iambic pentameter... you can find many rhymed pieces in my own collection on my site, as well as a vast range of other ways to rhyme...

    when you've mastered hearing/feeling the stresses in rhymed works, you'll have a much easier time with any words or phrases...

    love and hugs, maia
     

Share This Page