1. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Syllable Stressing

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by rhduke, Mar 18, 2013.

    I'm not sure how many writers are aware of this because I sure as hell wasn't. The method basically uses strong and weak syllable stresses in some sort of pattern for a desired effect. Example:

    Once up/on a time, there was a prin/cess.

    The slashes seperate the syllables. In this example the syllable stresses are:

    Once = Strong
    up = Weak
    on = Strong
    a = Weak
    time = Strong
    there = Weak
    was = Strong
    a = Weak
    prin = Strong
    cess = Weak

    This example follows a Strong-Weak pattern which is also the rhythm in which English people naturally speak. (Also called iambic metre).

    Another example is:

    Rain fell. Hail crashed. Wind screamed.

    Every syllable here is Strong.

    You can really tell the difference between the two senteces when read aloud and how they impact you as a reader. I find this significant because a sentence can carry a different feel depending on its syllable rhythm.

    Do any of you do this for your poetry or for introductory paragraphs to a chapter of your book? If it's something you've never noticed before, do you think it could be a useful tool in your writing?

    (You can find out how a word is stressed in the dictionary. Generally, the following single syllable words are strong: nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs. The following single syllable words are weak: prepositions, articles, demonstratives, conjunctions, pronouns, auxiliary verbs)
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Poetry? Heck, I do it in prose! I read everything aloud, making sure the stresses are in the right places. Sure, it's more subtle than poetry, but I still care about rhythm. I really don't like reading prose by someone who isn't aware of rhythm - it seems to be written by chimpanzees. I love the flow of language when it's written well.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I care about stressing in poetry but not so much in prose. I don't see the point in going over every sentence in a novel or story to make sure it sounds good when spoken out loud. There are so many stressing patterns that have the potential to sound good that something like this is only useful for poetry. Of course, this is just my opinion.
     
  4. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    My opinion is if you stress over every tiny syllable in your work, you'll go mad. Then again, some of the best writing comes from insane people. :p
     
  5. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Yeah there's something to be said for a piece of prose that flows on your tongue like aged wine. Obviously it would be insane to use syllable patterns for an entire book, but I think it could really be useful for small scenes. Especially when I'm describing something, I want the words to flow, but sometimes I can't really figure out how to do it. A syllable pattern may be useful :p. I'm gonna try to use it in the next thing I write.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i also can't see any benefit to doiing that explicitly for an entire book of prose... however, i think good writers probably do something close to that on a subconcious level as they write, anyway...

    of course i do take great pains with stress/meter/rhythm, when writing poetry...
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Worse, you'll drive the reader mad. Or at least to annoyance, resulting in your book getting set aside indefinitely.
     
  8. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Why would the reader care? A stress pattern doesn't make the book any harder to read.

    Besides, I'm sure the majority of readers wouldn't even notice if a particular stress pattern is being used.
     

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