“Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul” Plato.
Everything in life has a rhythm: the rain, the sea waves, our voice, the meows and woofs, the wind, even our breathing. We, humans, seek rhythm in our daily routines, even when we don’t realize it. We hate monotony; we embrace the natural ebb and flow of everyday existence. Anything without rhythm feels forced, fake, abnormal. Similarly, our writing must exhibit rhythm to attract readers and keep them from bouncing.
But how do we do that?
1. Vary The Length Of Your Sentences
Alternating the length of your sentences gives your writing a natural organic flow. For a more playful approach, vary the length according to what you are writing. For example, if you are describing a trite, arduous procedure, use a more extended, harder-to-read sentence. To add the element of surprise, use shorter, brisk sentences. For a touch of humor, use one-word sentences. Make the length of your sentences work for you to enhance your point. Alternating between longer and shorter sentences will help your writing flow seamlessly and effortlessly, following a natural rhythm.
2. Switch The Position Of Your Words And Phrases
English is a very flexible language and allows itself for the shift and relocation of words and phrases within a sentence. Do not always follow the conventional linear road of word positioning. Instead, play with the ordering a little bit, read it out loud and see which versions sound more musical to your ears. Much like spoken speech, written speech should not seem forced or recorded. Following grammar rules to a T will rob your writing of its natural rhythm. As long as your sentences are correct, exploit the flexibility that the English language offers.
3. Do It Like Mozart
Mozart is known for the use of tension and release in his pieces, where the build-up of musical intensity eventually dissolves and relaxes. For the listener, a moment of unrest in the music creates anticipation for its resolution. When we hear such pieces, we expect the drama to resolve, and thus, tension and release keep the music moving forward.
When you write, use the technique of tension and release. Build up a situation that peaks in stress and emotion, and then offer a release from that ascent. The emotional build-up and the subsequent resolution offer a unique rhythm to your context.
4. Use Words To Give The Right Ambiance To Your Description
Words can give rhythm to your writing and match the ambiance your sentences are trying to convey. Lace your context with assonance, metaphors, and alliterations. Use adjectives and adverbs to make your writing cascade like a rippling waterfall, intense in its strength and rhythm. Alternatively, use your words to undulate your writing with vivid imagery that appeals to your readers’ senses.
Much like the length of your sentences, the type of words you choose should alternate. Some words are smoother and more lyrical; others are harsher and snappier.
Longer, multi-syllable words slow down your readers’ rhythm, moving them towards the release. Conversely, shorter monosyllabic words force your readers to read at a quicker pace, almost leaving them without breath, propelling them forward towards the tension of your writing.
5. Love Your Sentence Fragments
Grammarly and other writing tools hate sentence fragments. I get a lot of red underlines when I write my context. Most of it is recognized as sentence fragments. Some of it I correct, most of it, I ignore.
Sentence fragments lend a rhythm and musicality to your writing that perfectly emulates the natural flow of our spoken speech. We talk in incomplete sentences; we communicate in sentence fragments.
Even the most hard-pressed academics lecture using fragments. If you want to appeal to your audience, your message should come across naturally, not read from a grammar textbook. So, do love your sentence fragments. Case closed.
Plato Was Right
“Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul” Plato. Let that sink in for a minute.
Music and Rhythm.
The secret places
Of the soul.
If you want to reach your readers on a deeper, esoteric level, impact them with your message and your writing’s rhythm. Because after all, rhythm really is all that jazz.