Syllables vs. Accents

by courtvanhaaren

All right, I have been trying to work on writing with the technicality of meter for awhile now and it is seriously one of the most frustrating blocks I have faced with writing. (I used to think dialogue was hard. Psh, please.)

Well, most of the definitions for poetry forms consist of the rhythm of accents when writing lines. I mean, the accents is the basis of a poetic foot. (I am SO looking at you, sonnets. Ballads, you are also up there.) If any of you recall, when I first dabbled into writing and reading sonnets the idea of iambic pentameter was difficult to work with at first. (daDUM daDUM daDUM and clapping anyone?) I was having a hard time recognizing accents in words – something not always recognizable when it isn’t stressed or remembered from school- and I think it really put a block on creativity.


I was looking up ballad meter earlier today for reference and found a post that described it as this:

 common metre


(Literature / Poetry) a stanza form, used esp for hymns, consisting of four lines, two of eight syllables alternating with two of six



It sounds completely silly, but it never occurred to me before to consider using syllables instead of accents as a basis for line formation. I mean, yes,  I know that syllables had a factor but I was so focused on how the accents were supposed to appear I was getting both stuck and frustrated.

I seriously cannot express how relieved I am to find such a simple but possibly very effective way at approaching writing these forms. I have been stressed trying to feel something that I could not verbally connect with what I was trying to write. I don’t know if it is something that is obvious to others, but as someone who isn’t really familiar with these styles it’s hard to recognize all the technicalities behind the writing.
I am going to now sit down and try writing with a different mindset. Will definitely update soon.
Until later
~C M VanHaaren