Is your Meter Running?

Meter is one of those words with several meanings. It’s a measurement of size, though we spell it metre in Canada. It’s a device like a parking meter, measuring time. It’s also measurement of rhythm and pace.

According to my Funk & Wagnalls dictionary, a meter is: “A measured rhythm constituting one of the chief characteristics of verse.”

Meter isn’t just for poetry. There is some form of poetry in our fiction and nonfiction writing. The words you choose, how you arrange them and how they sound when they come together, are all part of writing something people will want to read more of. Think about it.

Recently in the BackWash message boards PussNBoots, one of the Adult columnist’s said:

“Every writer searches for their own “voice.” The best way to find it is to write. Also, pay attention to the voices of writers you admire. Read their work out loud to hear the rhythm and meter. Listen to why they chose particular words.”

I thought that was brilliant. Reading your work out loud is the best way to check it’s meter, the rhythm of your words. That doesn’t mean you need to make your writing longer or chop it down, just choose different words or arrange them differently. See how your words flow, does the rhythm change or get monotonous? Is it dramatic and fast paced when you write about action? Or are the sentences you use kind of long and clunky? Do you tend to start sentences with the same pattern or rhythm? Vary your sentence structure.

“Tom went to the market, at Guildwood, everyday” Could be “Everyday, Tom would go to Guildwood’s market.” Not great examples but you get the idea, I hope.