Don’t Stress Over Word Stress Sunday!

I must start out today by wishing

Mr. Lee Bennett Hopkins a Happy Birthday!

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Lee's Birthday Cake

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I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with

Akiko White’s marvelous antique typewriter cake!

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Lee is our guest blogger on Saturday. Check back then to learn more about this inspirational writer and what he has done for children’s literature and poetry.

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I almost forgot to announce last weeks winners…

Week Two Daily Prize Winners:

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Sunday – Peggy Archer donated Name That Dog
WINNER Laura Rackham

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Monday – Dianne De Las Casas donated The House That Santa Built
WINNER Michele Norman

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Tuesday – Marsha Diane Arnold donated Roar of a Snore
WINNER Janet Smart

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Wednesday – Lori Degman donated 1 Zany Zoo
WINNER Daryl Gottier

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Thursday – Lori Degman donated Cockadoodle-Doo Oops  – NEW –  Just out!
WINNER Vivian Kirkfield

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Friday – Lori Degman donated a Critique
WINNER Zainab Khan

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Saturday – Susanna L. Hill donated Airplane Flight
WINNER Dawn Young

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All Winners…Please email me at Angie.karcher@yahoo.com with your mailing address ASAP!

Congratulations!

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Thanks to the authors for their generous donations and to all of you for reading the blog posts and daily lessons!

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I have not met today’s guest blogger personally but I know, without a doubt, we would get along brilliantly! She is a friend on Facebook and so kind and generous with her comments and in her time to support RhyPiBoMo. She recently critiqued a manuscript of mine and it was the most thorough, most informative critique I have ever received! I have a feeling that’s how she approaches all her projects. I’m please to have her here!

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So, without further ado, I’m honored to present today’s

Golden Quill Guest Blogger

Debbie Diesen!

        Rhypibomo Guest Blogger Badge     Debbie Diesen 2

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Rhyme-Writing Advice
By Deborah Diesen

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In writing, one is over and over again a beginner. Every new project introduces an idea to an empty page through an endeavor of inspiration and discipline and frustration and joy that varies not only from project to project but from moment to moment, word to word. In my own writing, I am daily humbled by the process and all that I still have to learn — and to relearn, and to relearn again. This leaves me reluctant to do anything so bold as to give advice to other writers.

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But to the extent that I’ve managed to absorb a few learnings along the way, I’m happy to share those with others who, like you, like me, love to write in rhyme. Because in the world of words, we’re all in this together.

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So, here goes: four longwinded bits of advice that might (or might not) be useful to you.

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1. Have at least two rhyming dictionaries.

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Rhyming dictionaries are a fun and practical resource for writing of any kind, but especially so for writing stories in verse. They vary in format and organization and in word inclusion, and it will take you a while to determine which dictionary best serves your purposes. A good way to get to know a rhyming dictionary is to take a few of your favorite rhyming children’s books and to look up all of their rhyming words. Depending on the format of the rhyming dictionary, this can actually be more challenging than it sounds. Regardless, it will take you longer than you think, because you’ll get distracted by the delightful words you unexpectedly encounter, and by the ideas they potentially launch. Don’t be afraid to lose yourself for a while to the pleasure of browsing. Be sure to have paper and pencil handy before you sink in.

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Ideally, try to test drive a bunch of different rhyming dictionaries at your local library before you buy any. However, not all libraries have a wide range of rhyming dictionaries; and given that they’re generally housed in the reference area, you may have limited luck requesting them through interlibrary loan. But if you know of other rhyme writers in your area, consider having a rhyming dictionary collection amongst you, so that you can each try out all of the available rhyming dictionaries, without having to purchase them all. Eventually you’ll find your favorite (mine is Sue Young’s The New Comprehensive American Rhyming Dictionary), but you’ll also have at least one also-ran. And really, you can never have too many.

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2. Read some books about poetic meter and form (but don’t freak out about the details).

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The terminology can be somewhat intimidating, but understanding the fundamentals of rhythm and rhyme will strengthen your ability to write rhyming stories. In additional to availing yourselves of all the lessons and blog posts of RhyPiBoMo, check your library for books such as Writing Metrical Poetry (Baer), The Ode Less Travelled (Fry), Poetic Meter and Poetic Form (Fussell), The Prosody Handbook (Beum and Shapiro), Rhyme’s Reason (Hollander), All The Fun’s In How You Say A Thing (Steele), and Poetic Designs (Adams). Don’t feel you have to read them all (unless you want to), but pick at least one to read in its entirety.

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Absorb the gist, but don’t panic if words like “prosody” and phrases like “iambic pentameter” leave you scanning the room for the closest exit. We’re all there with you. Hang on to your love-of-rhyme life raft, breathe deeply, and you’ll be fine.

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3. Watch for common meter and rhyme issues.

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a. Stressful situations in your first stanza

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A series of single syllable words sets up a first-among-equals situation. Each word alone by default has its only syllable as its primary stress, but within the sentence, stressed and unstressed syllables will have to be distributed. Sometimes the words in your single syllable series will easily and universally be read in a consistent stressed/unstressed pattern by all readers. But other collections of single syllable words may be open to rhythmic interpretation, leading to great variation in how different readers read these lines. This can be a disaster, especially if such a line comes early in your text, before the cadence of your story has been established. So give extra attention to these spots in your story, in case they’re meter dealbreakers.

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b. Unnatural stresses, and rhythms that only you hear

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Without realizing it, you may be pushing words into roles they’re not comfortable with. Your enthusiasm for the rhythm of your story may blind you to the fact that you’re asking, say, a word with a second syllable stress to stress its first syllable, or requiring a sentence to have a stress pattern that isn’t natural. One way to check for these errors is to go through your manuscript and mark every stressed syllable that you hear in your mind as you read. Then, scissor your pages into strips of one text line each. Mix those lines up and scrutinize them one by one in isolation. Have you marked a stress that doesn’t or shouldn’t exist? Another method is to have a writing partner or friend read your story out loud to you cold. He or she will slow down or even stumble in spots that don’t scan correctly. These spots undermine the integrity of your story. Be a good steward of your story and fix them.

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c. Rhymes that don’t meet a high enough standard.

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Rhyme isn’t just an end-syllable matter: a rhyme needs to include the word’s primary stress and everything after. This can be trickier than it sounds. Your rhyming dictionaries, and some study time with your favorite prosody handbook, can illuminate spots where your rhymes aren’t fully functional.

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In addition, give special attention to any rhymes you’re using that have been used a million times before by other writers. If you want to keep those rhymes in your story, you must bring something fresh to their usage.

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And, above all, pick rhymes that dance well together. It’s OK for one to be the lead, but you don’t want a diva to be dragging a wallflower across the floor. Or vice versa. It just causes the other words to stare and makes everyone uncomfortable.

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4. Finally, critique your story not just with your mind, but with your full self.

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When you think your story is done, set aside a chunk of time, get up out of your chair, stand tall, and read your story out loud, in full storytelling manner, at least fifty times in a row. Without a break in between. Don’t think as you do this: just experience your story fully, over and over and over again. Let your words and phrases and sounds play out kinetically. Feel the gallops, the jingles, the trills, the thumps, the vibrations, the warps, the chimes, the resonations.

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And then, on the last read, tap into the thinking part of your mind, and let it notice and observe. Pay attention to spots where you hesitate — where there might be a word that’s hard to say, or a phrase that’s dull. Even more importantly, notice those places you linger. Where a sentence is so playful you actually smile. Where an alliterative buzz makes your lips tingle. Where the rhythm compels not just your toe but your whole body to tap out the beat. Notice the moments where your breathing quickens. Where it slows. Allow your experience and observations to guide you to a deeper knowledge of your story’s strengths and flaws. If you do this, by the end of the final read, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to make your story the best it can be.

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And when you are finished with your story, then all the work that you’ve done, and the things that you’ve learned, and the skills that you have gained, will lead you back full circle.

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To a new idea. And a blank page.

To begin again.

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Bio:
Deborah Diesen’s first book, The Pout-Pout Fish, illustrated by Dan Hanna, was published in 2008 and spent two weeks on the New York Times bestseller list for children’s picture books. The Pout-Pout Fish was followed by a sequel in 2010, The Pout-Pout Fish In The Big-Big Dark. A third adventure for Mr. Fish and his friends, The Pout-Pout Fish Goes To School, will be published summer 2014. Debbie is also the author of a new series of mini-adventures for The Pout-Pout Fish, board books created especially for babies and very young toddlers. The first of these, Smile, Pout-Pout Fish, was released in January, and will be followed by Sweet Dreams, Pout-Pout Fish next year. Her other books are a rhyming story called The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade (illustrated by Tracy Dockray) and a non-rhyming story called Picture Day Perfection (illustrated by Dan Santat). Previously a bookseller and a reference librarian, she works at a small nonprofit organization as bookkeeper and business manager. She and her family live in Michigan.

http://debbiediesen.com/

http://jumpingthecandlestick.blogspot.com/

Debbie Diesen 3

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Debbie Diesen 4

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Debbie Diesen 5

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Debbie Diesen 6

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Thank you Debbie Diesen!

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RhyPiBoMo Daily Lesson: Sunday, April 13th
By Angie Karcher © 2014
Lesson 15

Understanding word stress is the key to improving your scansion, meter, rhyme and rhythm!

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Word Stress – the distribution of stresses within a polysyllabic word; the manner in which stresses are distributed on the syllables of a word —called also word accent. (Write this down)

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All words of more than one syllable have what is called word stress. This means that at least one of the syllables is l o n g e r and louder than the other syllables.

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Take this quick quiz to see if you understand word stress…

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Word Stress Quiz

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Choose the part of the highlighted word that is stressed and write it on the line at the end of the sentence.

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1 Can you pass me a plas-tic knife? _____
2 I want to take a pho-to-gra-phy class. _____
3 Chi-na is the place where I was born. _____
4 Please turn off the tel-e-vi-sion before you go out. _____
5 I can’t de-cide which book to borrow. _____
6 Do you un-der-stand this lesson? _____
7 Sparky is a very hap-py puppy. _____
8 It is crit-i-cal that you finish your essay. _____
9 My Grandfather wears an old-fash-ioned coat. _____
10 There is a lot of traf-fic on the highway today. _____

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http://www.englishclub.com/pronunciation/word-stress-quiz.htm

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Answers to Word Stress Quiz
1)plas
2)to
3)Chi
4)tel
5)cide
6)stand
7)hap
8)cri
9)fash
10)traf

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How did you do?

Stressed image'
Don’t get stressed…eat chocolate cake!

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In many cases, word stress must simply be learned as new vocabulary is acquired. However, there are several rules for word stress which can make it easier to deal with.

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Here are a few specifics to help:
Compound Nouns: (write this down)

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Listen to the following compound nouns. Can you hear the word stress?
Audio – http://www.soundsofenglish.org/pronunciation/suprasegmentals/ex2.rm

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bluebird
blackboard
notebook
bookstore
toothbrush
keyboard

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In each of these examples, the first part of the compound gets the stress.

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Noun+Noun Compounds (2-word compound nouns) (write this down)

Listen to the following noun+noun compounds. Can you hear which part of the compound gets more stress?
Audio – http://www.soundsofenglish.org/pronunciation/suprasegmentals/ex3.rm

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air conditioner
computer programmer
nail polish
french fry
Geiger counter
doctor’s office

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Similar to the rule for compound nouns, the first part of the compound–here, the first word–gets the stress. (Note: If the “unstressed” part of the noun+noun compound is more than one syllable, it will have some word stress. However, the first part of the compound will get even more stress.)

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Phrasal Verbs versus Compound Nouns derived from phrasals(write this down)

Phrasal verbs (a.k.a. two-word or two-part verbs) are generally made up of a verb and preposition. For many of these, correct word stress is especially important as they have compound noun counterparts. In the following examples, the words on the left are phrasal verbs. The words on the right are nouns.

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Listen to these examples.
Audio – http://www.soundsofenglish.org/pronunciation/suprasegmentals/ex4.rm

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let down letdown
shut out shutout
print out printout
turn off turnoff
take over takeover

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In phrasal verbs, the preposition gets the word stress. If they have a noun counterpart, however, it gets the stress on the first part.

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Homographs (write this down)
Homographs are words which are written the same way but which have different pronunciation. In English, there are many words which have the same spelling, but whose part of speech changes with the word stress. If you listen carefully, you will hear that the vowel sounds change depending on whether they are stressed or unstressed.

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Audio – http://www.soundsofenglish.org/pronunciation/suprasegmentals/ex5.rm

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VERB NOUN
record record
progress progress
present present
permit permit

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This great lesson is from Soundsofenglish.org
http://www.soundsofenglish.org/pronunciation/suprasegmentals/index.html

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This is a really good video that thoroughly explains stressed and unstressed words and how they interact with each other when we speak. It is about 8 minutes long but worth listening to!

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http://video.search.yahoo.com/video/play;_ylt=A2KLqIIVyEhTWGAACGD7w8QF;_ylu=X3oDMTBzOGgyNGpnBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDdmlkBHZ0aWQDBGdwb3MDMTU-?p=word+stress&vid=a3b0a1d7d8083f05138f9118bb4e21a2&l=8%3A13&turl=http%3A%2F%2Fts4.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DVN.608049098703439595%26pid%3D15.1&rurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DtpPCBWsVUp0&tit=Word+Stress+in+Sentences&c=14&sigr=11aefojon&sigt=10o2ekhs5&pstcat=healthcare+and+medicine&age=0&fr=chrf-yff23&tt=b

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Writing Exercise: Write out a number of sentences. Read each of them stressing a different word each time you read them. Notice how the meaning changes depending on which word you stress. Don’t be afraid to exaggerate the stress.

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Okay, now do everything else on the pledge for today and don’t forget to comment on today’s blog post!

RhyPiBoMo Pledge

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Please comment ONLY ONE TIME below for a chance to win today’s prize!
Prizes will be drawn by Random.com next Sunday for the previous week.
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comment after each days lessons.

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79 thoughts on “Don’t Stress Over Word Stress Sunday!

  1. Ha! I love it that “Stressed spelled backwards is desserts!” ( I hadn’t seen that before, but I had seen “Diaper spelled backwards is repaid.” ) I’ve never seen a rhyming dictionary, but I’ll have to look for one. I wonder if there’s a website to find rhyming words?

  2. Another great lesson– I’ve been using Ryhmezone.com so far, but I’ll have to get my hands on a couple of dictionaries in print..

  3. DON”T STRESS she says and do I? Of course I do but that is okay, a little bit of stress in learning is a great motivator. Speaking entirely for myself. Thank you Angie for another interesting topic and thank you Debbie Diesen for your words of wisdom.

  4. My brain is filling up with so much information. IF I can remember everything you’ve taught us, I will be spouting perfect poetry by the end of the month. Thank you Angie.

  5. Thanks for another great lesson, Angie! I have to admit that I find word stress in sentences fascinating, but as an English person, not an American, I suspect we have a few differences even in the above examples.

    In the noun+noun compound words, I definitely stress the SECOND word in computer programmer and french fry, but the first word in your other examples. I just tried these 2 words out on my dad, and so does he…

  6. What a meaty post by Debbie Deisen! I especially appreciated the information on common meter and rhyme issues and recommended book list. And I went to Merriam-Webster.com to look up prosody:
    pros•o•dy
    noun \ˈprä-sə-dē, -zə-\: the rhythm and pattern of sounds of poetry and language
    plural pros•o•dies
    Full Definition of PROSODY
    1: the study of versification; especially: the systematic study of metrical structure
    2: a particular system, theory, or style of versification
    3: the rhythmic and intonational aspect of language

  7. I definitely need to get another rhyming dictionary – besides my paper one and rhymezone.com. And I did pretty well on the quiz – only missed one. Learning so much – and had TOO much fun reading my rhyming PB this morn – Mr. Brown Can Moo. Can you? WAY too fun – and lots of memories!!

  8. Thanks for another great post! I have one rhyming dictionary and use rhymezone, but will have to look into another dictionary!

  9. I think I feel stressed syllables/words more than hear them. I have taken my ukulele out & strummed a steady beat along to my poems to be sure the meter works the wY I want it to.

  10. Thanks, Debbie for the useful advice! 😀

    I’m a big fan of online dictionaries!
    rhymezone.com
    merriamwebster.com.Key in a word. Scroll down and a few rhyming words are listed.

    Hardbound rhyming dictionaries on my bookshelf:
    *The Scholastic Rhyming Dictionary by Sue Young
    *The Complete Rhyming Dictionary by Clement Wood
    *Webster’s New Explorer Rhyming Dictionary

  11. Congratulations to all the winners. And congratulations to Angie for another lesson that builds on our understanding of poetry.

  12. Thank you for suggesting rhyming dictionaries and for listing a specific one that you use. I’ve been guilty of “pushing words into roles they’re not comfortable with” – I really like this personification.

  13. Great to “meet” Debbie. Her Pout-Pout Fish books sound like a wonderful bundle to put together for a new baby gift I need this week. Too bad they’ll be “used” when I wrap them, as I intend to read them all first!
    Debbie’s caution to beware of “meter deal breakers” is a great quote to keep close to the heart when writing our rhyming PBs and poems!

    DESSERT with SS for “strawberry shortcake” (their yummy after-meal treat) versus DESERT with one S for “sand”, was one of my syllabic stress [pronunciation]/spelling mini-lessons for fifth graders before I retired from teaching.

    Angie, thanks for another round of hors d’oevres full of superb sound-making wisdom today!

  14. This was a very informative post, however I was unable to open any of the sound files except the last one. I got through most of the 8-minute video when it blew me off Mozilla Firefox and crashed it. I had to go to a different computer in order to get back on and leave my comment. I can’t even get Firefox to reload on the other computer!Is anyone else having problems with these files?

    • Oh no Rosi! So sorry! I tested everything twice but those links can be so unpredictable…yes, please let me know if anyone else is having trouble with the links and audio clips…

  15. Love what Debbie said about being a beginner every time we write a new book. 🙂 🙂 Makes me feel better…it’s comforting to know that we are all newbies.
    Wonderful post, Angie…and THANK YOU so much for the book! And thank you to all the generous prize donors…especially Lori Degman…I will treasure the book and my grandson will be thrilled!

  16. Another lesson packed with goodies! Thanks so much! Here’s an exercise that’s fun and frustrating and plays with word stress: sing the phrase “See the pretty waterfall” over and over to the tune of “Did You Ever See a Lassie Go This Way and That Way…”. It takes many rounds to make it end up where it should again.

  17. Congrats to last week’s winners 🙂

    Debbie, thank you for your advice. I’m happy you were not reluctant! I’m breathing deeply and hanging on 🙂

    Angie, thank you for another great lesson. I couldn’t open the four audio links, but I have all the rest to inspire me onward.

  18. Wow. Another inspiring post. Thank you Debbie and Angie. Yes, I force those words to do my bidding. But. I won’t anymore! 🙂 And I’ll always critique my writing with my full self now.

  19. Another great Lesson!

    Today I’m stressing about word stress
    The more I learn, the more I guess
    Just when I think I got it nailed,
    New stuff gets posted and emailed!

  20. I’m pouting because I’ve only read the “original” Pout-pout Fish. I need to find the others! My old computer couldn’t open the audio – but am I stressing? No! (and yes! Doing the homework 🙂 )

  21. Debbie’s advice was so wonderful, I found myself writing down big chunks of quotes – I particularly loved the part about the diva dragging the wallflower across the floor. I’ve written a few lovely lines of poetry that were immediately dragged down by the lines that followed. I’ll either hesitate on or quickly read through those not-so-lovely lines on a read-aloud, so that helps me spot them.
    Thanks, Angie, for the lesson on word stress. Teaching ESL for many years helped me with this, but I needed a review.
    Now – off to write my poem for the day.

  22. I can’t wait to read your books Debbie. Also, thank you and Angie for another terrific post. I’m sure I’ll be referring to this one often.
    ,

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