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Rhyme vs lyrical and the difference when it comes to meter.

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One of the PB's I am working on came to me in a rhyming format.  I know that agents and publishers want anything in that fashion to be perfect.  So I am trying to figure out all the rules that go along with it. I have found some great info but I still don't know all the rules.  I am looking for a resource that will help me know the rules if there are any on mixing pentameter.  Is it allowed? Is there a certain structure that it needs to be in? Also someone from my critique group suggested that I call it lyrical so that my meter doesn't have to be perfect.  I didn't even know that there was a difference in something that is lyrical vs something that is written in rhyme.  Currently, in my piece,  each stanza has two lines, each line has 10 syllables and the lines within each stanza rhyme.  Is this enough? While most of my lines are written in iambic pentameter, there are a few that are not.  Do they all need to match? Any advise you can give me will be greatly appreciated. 
#1 - August 17, 2015, 02:59 PM

If you are going to call it rhyming, you're going to need it to have perfect meter, IMO as a mom who reads a LOT of PBs to her toddler. When you read and re-read, you notice when things are off. And if they're close to on, it feels sloppy when they are off. It's a bit different if the lines don't rhyme, but have a kind of lyrical rhythm to them. But if they rhyme, they should have a metered pattern. You could edit it so that the rhyme is more of an echo than an every line kind of thing; that's also done, and what I would consider lyrical.

Anyway, some excellent PBs with metered rhyme that my kiddo and I love to read and reread include:
BEAR SNORES ON
LITTLE BLUE TRUCK
FALLING FOR RAPUNZEL
TEN LITTLE FINGERS AND TEN LITTLE TOES

If you read these (10x a day), you'll see why the meter matters so much. ::-)
#2 - August 17, 2015, 09:05 PM

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There's a rhyme tutorial around here somewhere.

One of my favorite sources about writing is rhyme is www.dorichaconas.com

Your lines can have the same number of syllables and still be terribly off in meter. Meter is the pattern of unaccented and accented syllables.

#3 - August 17, 2015, 09:35 PM
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

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« Last Edit: August 17, 2015, 09:44 PM by Lill »
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

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I agree with what's been said. Your meter has to be perfect. But it can also vary, consistently and deliberately, but not accidentally or because of laziness. That is lines 1-4 could have a certain meter, and lines 5-6 could be different, with the next four lines going back to the original meter, followed by the next two lines echoing the meter of the couplet, etc. So you can mix and match, deliberately and consistently, but you mustn't cheat to make it easy.  :uhuh

But I also think it's useful to define lyrical. Wikipedia says it's "expressing the writer's emotions in an imaginative and beautiful way." So lyrical is the words you choose--silky vs soft, butter-brown vs tan, etc--to show emotion. Lyrical is making it sound beautiful. But both lyrical and non-lyrical text can have (and should have) meter in a rhyming piece.

Good luck! 
#5 - August 18, 2015, 04:08 AM
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What Jody said.

I couldn't think of a good way to explain lyrical last night. The message I wanted to get across was -- don't settle for poorly constructed rhyme/meter -- slap a "lyrical" label on it, and expect it to pass.

If it doesn't come across as smooth, effortless, and organic to your piece --- it will likely get disregarded as poor craft.

I often describe meter in terms of knitting or bricklaying or anything where you have rows. You can have variation, but it needs to follow a pattern. If you are haphazard in the arrangement of your words/stitches/bricks, your structure won't be sturdy or attractive.
#6 - August 18, 2015, 07:48 AM
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

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Ok, this has been extremely helpful.  Thank you so much everyone. I agree I don't want it to be sloppy and just call it lyrical which is why the comment from my critique group surprised and confused me.  So I went through my piece with my MIL who is an English teacher and we've decided that each stanza is in tetrameter, so I am really happy about that.  However, there are some lines that are anapestic and some that are iambic.  How important is it that those are consistent or patterned? 
#7 - August 18, 2015, 02:23 PM

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Yay for English teachers!  :)

Are your "exception" lines consistently exceptional? That is, in the overall rhyme scheme, do they fall in the same places each time? In general and without having seen your work, I think if your answer to that is yes, you're fine.

If you want to post a verse or two here, we might be able to give you better feedback.
#8 - August 18, 2015, 02:52 PM
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Oh ... you removed the post of your work. I was coming back to comment. In brief, I suggest you step back from worrying about the meter right now and concentrate on your story. Look back at the link to that tutorial I posted earlier. Notice the part about weak rhymes.

Since you removed the post, I'm going on memory -- I remember a couple of really nice detailed lines. Try to weave a story into the information. When at all possible (and it's almost always possible if you keep working at it), use exact rhymes. I saw a couple -- but the one that stood out was sure and more. In some regions, these may come closer to rhyming than others -- but for me -- sure rhymes with lure or pure or cure. More rhymes lore, pore, and core.

I don't know the age group you're shooting for with this. If it's an early reader, you want the simple language -- but with your facts woven in, I gathered you were going for a read aloud. With that, you can use more complex, lyrical language. See-- there's that word. You want to use the BEST and most PRECISE words you can find.

When I'm doing a rhyming project, I sometimes brainstorm words that I might use --- particularly those that would make good end words. Then I list rhymes for those.  Then you sort of have a pool of words to choose from.

Add more action and imagery. Build a story arc. There were a couple of lines where you were saying things like -- that's swell .. and isn't that neat --- and those things seemed to only be there to complete the end rhyme.

I think you have a great nugget of a story here, and you have a pretty good ear for meter. When you choose to write in rhyme --story, rhyme and meter all have to blend together to be smooth and all part of each other. It takes some doing, but eventually everything will fall in place.

Best of luck!

#9 - August 19, 2015, 08:07 AM
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Thank you for the critique even though the post was removed.  The moderator actually is the one that took the last post down because this area of the boards are public.  I am grateful that they are looking out for my best interest (so thank you Holly).  She said that I could re-post it in the critique section of the boards but I wasn't really sure how to let you know where to find it.  All of this is still pretty new to me. 

I can definitely see where I can use a stronger story.  Right now the story aspect of it is somewhat weak.  I started thinking about it along the lines of how to make it informative too and maybe that took precedence over the story.  I guess the trick will be how to get them to mesh and still maintain the meter. Thank you for pointing out that depending on regions certain rhymes may not work as well.  I had a few people from my critique group tell me that sure and more didn't work for them either and to me it is a strong rhyme.  I didn't take into account the region and vocal variations that take place.  So I am so glad you pointed it out to me in that specific manner.

I really appreciate the tips and help from all of you.  You have given me some great insights to make me a stronger writer.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!
#10 - August 19, 2015, 09:48 AM

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You're welcome! Sometimes it's easy to get stuck on one vision for a story. Maybe do a whole lot of brainstorming on different directions to take this. I'd suggest getting a good story outline or plot plan down, and worry about meter later. When you finally nail those perfect metrical lines it's sooooo hard to give them up because they don't fit the story.

I'll look for you on the critique boards --- I'm super busy right now, but I'll try to keep up with your story. :)
#11 - August 19, 2015, 10:08 AM
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

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Oops! My bad. I didn't think about this area of the boards being off-limits for posting your work. Sorry, Mykell!

If you'd like, I'd be happy to look at your manuscript off-line.

Mods, could you send Mykell my email address, please?

#12 - August 19, 2015, 11:52 AM
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Jody, I just sent it to her -- thank you (and Lill) for all your support here! :)
#13 - August 19, 2015, 01:24 PM
Robin
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Thanks, Robin!
#14 - August 19, 2015, 02:00 PM
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Excellent posts! Thank you all for the great advice! :)
#15 - August 31, 2015, 01:05 PM

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