Thursday, 2 March 2017

Writing Metrical Verse

Welcome to the shadowy and not-so-shadowy space behind Sally's books. If you're not familiar with this blog, scroll down to see what it's all about.

Writing Metrical Verse (Post 61)

Writing Metrical Verse (2009, 2017) is one of the books, like How to be an Awesome Author (Post 15) written as a how-to for writers; in particular those with whom I work through Affordable Manuscript Assessments. I started writing metrical verse in childhood. There's a certain amount of musical talent in my family, and it was through this exposure that I learned an inconvenient but ultimately useful fact; musicality and writing, are not single talents but bundles of associated talents. Talent is at least partly inherited, and I inherited some aspects of musical talent. Nevertheless, I'm not musical, I'm a poor singer, can't play by ear and showed no aptitude for learning to play a musical instrument. My poor coordination probably has something to do with that and with my lack of talent in dancing. The fact that I can't sing in tune proves I have neither tone nor tune, and for a long time I thought I had no music at all. It wasn't until I was almost grown up that I realised I had natural timing and a good sense of rhythm.

Probably someone who knows musical theory could explain how I can be too clumsy to dance and have rhythm at the same time. I can beat out and count a rhythm with ease (it's possible I might be able to play drums, though I've never tried). I hear stresses, beat variations and "silent" beats. In other words, I have a facility for metrical verse. And that is my musical talent.

It's unfortunate from my point of view that metrical verse is no longer admired by most people, with free verse being king, but there are quite a few people who still want to write it.  Especially, people like to write rhyming picture book texts. 

I never realised until I'd dealt with a dozen or so writers through the Affa site that most people can hear rhyme, but many can't hear rhythm. Part of the problem is that they equate rhythm (aka scansion) with syllable counts and they're not the same thing. Metrical verse need not rhyme (I write blank verse with ease) but it always has a musical pattern. I can almost always edit rhymed texts sent through the Affa site to make them scan, but I thought it would be helpful if there was a book for people who wanted to learn how to do this for themselves.

Writing Metrical Verse is not especially about picture books texts. It covers most of the common and some uncommon forms of this kind of verse. It teaches how to recognise scansion, how to count "silent" beats, and how to rescue a failing stanza. It's the distillation of forty or so years of practice. 

As with most of my other how-to books, (and as explained in the post on How to be an Awesome Author), I never offered this text to a commercial publisher, but brought it out myself. It is available as a paperback or PDF by writing to me at sodgers(AT) or straight from the printer from this link. It is also part of an omnibus collection of my how-to books, but that's part of a later post.

About the Blog

Sally is Sally Odgers; author, manuscript assessor, editor, anthologist and reader. (Sally is me, by the way, and I am lots of other things too, but these are the relevant ones for now.)

The goal for 2017 is to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. If you're an author, an aspiring author, a reader or just someone who enjoys windows into worlds, you might find this fun. This preamble will be pasted to the top of each post, so feel free to skip it in future.

The books are not in any special order, but will be assigned approximate dates, and pictures, where they exist. 

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