Writing exercise: Rhyming
How does a joke turn into something amazing? This is how:
My songwriting buddy, Chris, came down for a visit over the holiday. One morning, we busted out two songs in an hour and a half! He emailed me this morning asking me to send him one of the verses we had rewritten.
As good friends do, we joke with one another over email, but my joke turned into something different.
After two decades of writing songs, my mind tends to think in verse when I create. (Evidenced by the nearly 15,000 word novelette, The Tale of Nottingswood, written entirely in verse. Read the first 28 pages for yourself here.)
I used to have a “purist” attitude about my writing. I believed the only resource that a writer should have at their disposal is their mind. It wasn’t until I read an interview with my favorite composer and lyricist, Stephen Sondheim, that my eyes were opened.
He admitted to using a rhyming dictionary.
This was sacrilege to me then. But my eyes were opened. Today, I rarely write a thing without these three writers’ tools open on my browser:
A painter has paintbrushes and paint,
A sculptor has chisels and mallet,
A mechanic has wrenches and… um, other mechanic tool thingies,
And a writer has books full of words, meanings and rhymes.
Below is the poem that spun out from this morning’s email. The first three lines are from the song we had written. The rest is teasing turned inspiration–with a little help from my online rhyming dictionary.
Small glimpses keep flashing in my mind.I’m on main street pretending there’s a sign.Just got to keep on searching for something else to find.
Chris is driving me out of my mind.“Working” is often referred to as “grind”
Which often puts me in a bindEspecially when I want to unwind.Instead…
The Curse of the RedlinedI feel especially confinedWhen I see worldly things enshrinedAnd mankindMaligned.I feel inclinedTo make my life a little more refined;Put on the shades of the colorblindSo not to see the sins of humankindAnd the unrefinedand misaligned.It feels undefinedThe truth that we are all intertwined.So the offer to which I must declineIs the one made by the once divinedWho fell from heaven when he declinedTo follow the Plan the Man outlinedWho chose Another who, there, out-shined,Who was kind,Unlined,Who predefinedThat which we, here, got behind;And all those who chose to leave and combineWith the son who chose not to countersignThe Plan laid out by the Man DivineQuickly found themselves fast consigned,Redlined,By the Mastermind,To be peeled off like the bitter rindNever again to rebindThemselves to the Man who streamlinedSalvation for all man and womankind.