Skip to main content

I Got Rhythm

The Daily Writer by Fred White

There is something almost biological about rhythm. Maybe it has something to do with heartbeat and breathing; may it has something to do with the rhythms of nature, of which there are many: the phases of the moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, the movement of clouds across the sky, even the way flowers and trees sway in the breeze. Other creatures certainly possess rhythm: birds (both in their singing and in their flying), butterflies, the sinuous movements of snakes, the movements of schools of fish, the dreamy swaying of jellyfish and the tendrils of sea anemones. Of course, art is all about rhythm—not just in music (drumbeats, ballerina pirouettes and so on), but the rhythms one sees in paintings and sculptures. The most important thing about rhythm, at least from a writer’s perspective, is the role it plays in holding the reader’s or listener’s attention.

Image placeholder title

If you read and write poetry, you understand the importance of rhythm, the combination of stressed and unstressed syllables, the pauses that add emphasis and connotations to words and phrases. Prose also has its rhythms. They’re not as pronounced as the poetic ones, but sentences need to be sufficiently varied to permit ease of reading. Construct too many sentences the same way and they’ll seem choppy, mechanical.

Rhythm is as important in writing as it is in all the other arts, in nature, and even in our own physiology and behavior. Life pulsates; we are most alive when we satisfy our instinct for rhythmic gratification.

Compose a number of short poems, each one expressing a distinctive rhythmic character. Construct one poem predominantly with anapests (two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed, as in “‘Twas the NIGHT before CHRISTmas and ALL through the HOUSE …”; another poem with trochees (a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed, as in “HOLD me, KISS me, LOVE me”); and yet another poem based on a rhythmic pattern of your own devising.

Jane Porter: On the Joy of Writing Mature Characters

Jane Porter: On the Joy of Writing Mature Characters

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jane Porter discusses celebrating the nature of getting older in her new romance novel, Flirting With Fifty.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 610

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a "different way of seeing the world" poem.

How To Research Topics Like a Journalist

How To Research Topics Like a Journalist

From in-person interviews to scouring the web for credible sources, journalist Alison Hill shares tips on how to research topics like a journalist.

Can I Have Your Attention?

Can I Have Your Attention?

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, an announcement is about to change the course of history.

Glenn Boozan: On the Funny Side of Parenting

Glenn Boozan: On the Funny Side of Parenting

Emmy nominated comedy writer Glenn Boozan discusses how a funny piece of perspective turned into her new humor book, There Are Moms Way Worse Than You.

From Script

Adapting True Crime and True Stories for Television (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, exclusive interviews with writers and showrunners Robert Siegel and D.V. DeVincentis (“Pam & Tommy”), Patrick Macmanus and Liz Hannah (“The Girl from Plainville”) who both have taken creative liberties in adapting true stories for a limited series.

Chanel Cleeton: On Reader Enthusiasm Conjuring Novel Ideas

Chanel Cleeton: On Reader Enthusiasm Conjuring Novel Ideas

Author Chanel Cleeton discusses how reader curiosity led her to write her new historical fiction novel, Our Last Days in Barcelona.

Writer's Digest Interview | Marlon James Quote

The Writer's Digest Interview: Marlon James

Booker Prize–winning author Marlon James talks about mythology and world-building in his character-driven epic Moon Witch, Spider King, the second book in his Dark Star Trilogy in this interview from the March/April 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: New Podcast Episode, a Chance at Publication, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our newest podcast episode, your chance to be published, and more!