Rhythm, cadence and beats are a powerful series of three (see previous day’s post) to keep in mind when you write your novel, short story, essay, and of course, poetry.
Remember “Lions and tigers and bears. Oh my!” Dorothy, the Scare Crow, and the Tin Man sing this line along the Yellow Brick Road. (Notice there are three friends.) The order of the three animals has rhythm, cadence, and beats. If the order is switched around, it doesn’t sound as good, i.e., Bears, lions, and tigers. Oh my!
Poets are aware of the importance of rhythm, cadence, and beats. Fiction and non-fiction writers can develop an awareness of matching the rhythm of sentences to the beat of the action. Develop a cadence ear by reading work aloud to see where a revision of a sentence can make a difference in the flow and the sound. It might be only the order of the words that need attention.
Meghan O’Rourke calls it the “musicality of prose”. She suggests listening for the “duh-duh-dum rhythm and uses a line from Marilynne Robinson’s book, HOUSEKEEPING as an example: “To crave and to have are as like as a thing and it’s shadow.”
Do you hear it?