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Editor's Notes #62, Write with rhythm
November 15, 2008

"...sometimes even a rhythmic, playful, or alliterative phrase
will set off an idea for me."

-- Rhonda Gowler Greene

In this issue:
1. Write with rhythm
2 Tickled my funnybone.
3. Free Writing Course


1. Write with rhythm

As promised last time, I'm explaining what, besides alliteration, is working in the first line of Dennis Lee's poem,Jelly Belly. But first, let me extend what I said about alliteration.

Take a look at the title of this section -- write with rhythm. Now say it with your eyes shut and listen to the first sound of each word. If you look at the words, you might think that write and with are alliterative because they both begin with w. But the alliteration is with write and rhythm because it's the first sound, not the first letter that creates alliteration.

On to what makes the alliteration so strong in both Dennis Lee's poem and to a lesser extent, in my title above. In a word, it's rhythm.

Rhythm in literature is written as a series of stressed and unstressed syllables such as, ta-DA, the rhythm of the words the cat. We almost don't head the light touch of the word the while the word cat is stressed.

What makes Lee's alliteration so fine is how it works with the rhythm.

Jelly Belly bit
With a big fat bite

The rhythm is

DA-ta DA-ta DA
ta-ta DA DA DA.

Note that every syllable that begins with the sound /b/ is stressed. The plosiveness of the sound /b/ sounds like a punch, adding to the pugilistic sound of the lines.

In addition, of 6 stressed syllables in the lines above, 4 begin with the /b/ sound.

The stronger the emphasis, the stronger the force of the alliteration. In the case we are looking at here, the high percentage of stressed syllables that are alliterated adds even more power.

No, you don't have to force this sort of writing, but knowing how it works can help you make decisions when you come to a choice between two words.


2. Tickled my funnybone.

"Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors"


3. Free writing course

One of the most popular features of is the free course on writing verse for children. In four lessons, you will learn the basics of writing good rhymes -- basics you need if you want to sell verse. Learn more at


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