Rhythm, Balance and Harmony

Rhythm, Balance and Harmony

A Lesson by Icelanna

Short lesson to get you actively reading your work.


   Notebooks at the ready! Welcome to lesson two of your creative writing course. 

Rhythm, Balance and Harmony.
   As a writer, you should actively read your work and the work of others to understand writing styles, understanding genre, preferably in depth and to also be aware of what is being put into the text, not just what comes into your mind. When reading a book we tend to read passively, absorbing the details of the story, acquainting ourselves with the characters and so on and so forth. However, when a writer reads, especially if they are reading certain novels for research on their own writing (Which you should all do by the way, it improves you) we tend to read actively. 
   Active reading is when we take apart an extract or chapter or even as we read as we go along when you get really good at it, to pinpoint specific details. Every piece of text should be analytically dissected to prove it has depth, understanding, inspiration and personalization. 
   Task 1
   Get a book that you have, and not one with pictures in either. Flip open to a random page and read it without really thinking about it. Wait two minutes, then reread the same extract but read it actively. To do this you'll be looking for:
- A style of writing (person narrative/eloquence/language etc)
- Lexical fields (a compilation of words or phrases relating to a specific theme or topic which runs throughout it or in a small group ie in a paragraph)
- Language (modifiers aka describing words, verbs, tone of voice, point of view, mood/attitude etc)
- Sentence types ( types of sentences such as imperative, exclamiative, declarative etc) 
- What that extract tells you as a reader, aka why it's in the book in the first place, What is it's purpose?
- An finally how you can relate to it as a writer. 
* You don't have to write it down, but you can if you want to. 

   Task 2
   Below you will be give three examples of work which has been written previously but has been reworded. All of the examples are famous quotes and or lines from established famous writers. Read them actively to decipher what they were originally. Beware, they get harder as you go on, I hope you know your writers!!
Example One: "My weight and not my weight, can I be slimmer?"
   Can you tell where it is from? Forget what the words say and read over it is anything familiar? Try to hearn it separately from meaning and listen to the rhythm of the words. Read as many times as you like. 
(CLUE: From a famous play about a man with the same name as a small cigar) 
ANSWER: "To be or not to be: That is the question" By William Shakespeare. Well done if you got it right, you are reading actively. If not, reread it again and split it into two and listen to the melody of your voice as you read it. 
Example Two: "I mounted upright on the hill to catch for once the swift blue fly."
ANSWER: "I wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o'er vales or hills." By William Wordsworth.
Great job if you got it right, you're getting into the swing of things. If you knew it but didn't know the exact quote or writer then no worries, your improving! You still knew it, sort of...!
Example Three: "We met for ten to eight, we met for five to eight, we met for ten to twelve, we met for ten to eleven, we met for five past eleven, we met for five past nine..."
I'm expecting some dumbfounded faces at this point, I did when I was given it at first. I'll give you a clue: 19th century novel about the French revolution. 
No idea? 
ANSWER: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity..." By Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities. 
Don't panic if that last one tripped you up after you were doing so well but if you got it then Excellent, you're almost there. You are reading actively and you are connecting the rhyme, rhythm and harmony of the examples to get the right answers. The way you read it makes all the difference. 
   Task 3
   The next time you go to read something for leisure I would like for you to read one chapter actively for you to see how much detail as a reader you are missing. The detail you uncover, and how the writers use the detail and linguistic techniques will help you create a style of writing of your own when you know how others really do it. 

   Last but not least!
   Your last task, this one requires you to write, so sharpen your pencils...or click your pens!
   Could you tell which example related to which quote because of the syntax, rhythm and cadence alone, or did you rely on other things to piece together the answer. Did you use the rhythm, rhyme and harmony of the line religiously or did you focus on the words? 
   Write down your answers to remind yourself of how you got the answer. Some of them may have been familiar to you already, especially if you are a die hard classics fan. This reminder will help you to read actively. 

A note from me:
   Don't read actively all of the time. Doing it whilst reading a novel takes practise to do it all the way through and besides it does get boring. Read normally to enjoy the books you love, I certainly do, but make sure you read. Reading is the most important thing you do as a writer, and I don't mean reading magazines either. If you can't handle big novels, read short stories, poems, screenplays, anything which will suit you. Recommend books to friends, ask people what they enjoy or simply go back through your collection one at a time. Set yourself a goal, depending on the pace you read. I average 300 pages in a day sometimes, therefore I would target to read three books a month. When you work out what's comfortable for you, it'll be much easier. Also take it slowly if you have reading/writing difficulties and message me if you need support or help or questions. Always happy to help! 

See you in the next lesson!

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Added on December 30, 2012
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Wales, Caerphilly, United Kingdom

Hi guys! Sorry, I don't come on here all that often anymore. I'm busy in university and editing my book! I'm sorry If I haven't read any of your requests. Anyway, you can read the rest of "Madelin..