1. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    Linguistic Flexibility and Rephrasing for Rhythm

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by waitingforzion, May 23, 2016.

    Some people here have said that, in order for me to write rhythmically, I should write plainly to get my point across first, and then dress it up. I would have no problem doing that, except I worry that it will be linguistically impossible to rephrase all my thoughts to fit into the rhythm I want due to a lack of synonyms or grammatical flexibility. If I knew for sure that language did not have such a limitation, and that I could theoretically revise any words to fit certain kinds of rhythm, I would be much more willing to simply write in the plainest style, so that afterward I could revise it for rhythm.

    Can you please counter this thinking if at all possible, and if you like, give some examples of plainly written prose being revised, not just for regular rhythm, but for irregular? I think I need to see this happening in action to be satisfied.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2016
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  2. RobT
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    RobT Active Member

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    Not sure I'm qualified to give you a correct answer but hopefully someone will weigh in on this thread as I think it's probably one of the more interesting topics I've seen for a while. :)

    Is the context for this . . .

    Plain writing = The dog barked at John.
    Rhythmic writing = The terrier ran around in circles yapping. His little tail wagged incessantly when he saw his owner, John.

    If it isn't please ignore my post. If it is then I don't see language having a limitation when you come to revise. That said I don't believe there's a need to always write plainly but there could be instances where you're stuck for words, or worse . . . . waffling. In that scenario then to me it would seem sound advice to go plain and revise.

    Personally for myself rhythm is all about mixing it up. I don't always like to read "he said, she said". I like the odd "he whispered, she shouted". Also mixing it up on the length of sentences, paragraphs and the ordering of words works for me. It's a real balancing act I guess, too plain would be choppy, too rhythmic would be waffle.

    Sorry I can't answer the questions you ask but good post.
     
  3. agasfer
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    agasfer Member

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    With a little bit of research you can find earlier drafts of books that turned out to be successful, and you can see where the author changed the style (and of course sometimes the content, but that isn't relevant here). An example: http://www.thefictiondesk.com/blog/george-orwell-manuscript-for-1984/
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Didn't you post a thread about this topic just recently?

    My advice is to stop focusing on meter and rhythm so much. Based on your posts, it seems like you aren't finishing projects because you spend too much time overanalyzing. Finish a first draft of something, and worry about rhythm in later drafts.
     
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  5. jfxjmn
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    jfxjmn New Member

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  6. Diane Elgin
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    Diane Elgin Member

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    I haven't read your first thread, but I'm going to offer a suggestion and put into my own words something I read from Sol Stein's fantastic book 'Solutions for Writers'. It's a throwaway anecdote he tells about a writer he used to workshop with, but proves invaluable when tuning your own work for effortless readability. Read your prose back, out loud, in a monotone. Often time the temptation when reading back, dialogue especially, is to speak in the manner you picture the narrator/character would but if you drain all the emotion, you'll find clunk phrasing hits you like a cricket bat to the tibia and good rhythm or exciting vocabulary choice makes it near impossible to keep your voice flat. Give it a go sometime. You'll be surprised.

    When trying to fix clunky prose, you might also want to consider sentence lengths. If all your sentences are the same length, it gets drab. But if you heed the advice of those above and finish your draft, because after all it's only after you finish your draft that you can actually stop to see how it all flows together, then you can work to make the words ring. Understand?
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Zion, again, if you insist on a guarantee of success, you're never going to start. Very few people who set out to create something new did so with a guarantee of success.

    Have you ever had a hobby where you tolerated, or even expected, a certain amount of failure? I expect failure in my garden all the time. This year, I'm growing several kinds of tomatoes and squash dryfarm style, and I expect that most of them will die. I'm growing some winter squash with the intention of tasting them as summer squash, and I expect that most of them will be dreadful that way. I'm planning to taste various elements (bud, stems, etc.) of a variety of different sunflowers as the starting point of what may be a multi-year breeding experiment...that is moderately likely to be an utter failure. All of these failures are an inevitable step in reaching my goals, which include learning which existing cultivars of common vegetables will tolerate dryfarming, and doing some interesting plant breeding work in areas that no one is currently working on.

    Failure is OK. Failure is good. Failure is part of the definition of progress. I think that you need to learn to embrace failure, rather than work so very, very hard to avoid any risk of it.
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Having seen a number of these posts, I have to say I believe you are greatly over-thinking these issues, and you aren't taking the most productive approach to dealing with them. My advise is to write your story. Write it the way you want to write it. Then, after it is all down on paper, get some beta readers and start worrying about these issues.
     
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  9. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    "Sometimes on the way to victory, we must first lose. Fore if it had not been for the loss, how will you reach victory."- Centuria Proverb -

    It is ok to make mistakes, and to crash and burn. It teaches you to make new wings and fly again and again. One day you will have a success, but it is the road you travel on the way that has the most profound impact.
    So don't give up, just keep on trying, and you will find success when the time is right.
     

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