Basic craft :Forms and figures /2
For all these games, whether words are fitted in as in the Limericker or
where words are replaced as in Nursery Rhymes, it is essential to follow
the `tune' as much as the rhyme scheme. For this it's important that the
verse form be "sung" repeatedly until the rhythm, the number and correct
emphasis of the beats is fully absorbed.
Unless these are heard and
understood and repeated while the verse is being written, confusion will
still creep in and rhythm and shape will slip and distort.
Ti-tum or Duh-der
the tune, making sure that players understand that a word can contain several
beats and that "syllable-crunching" (BA-NA-NA, A-ME-RI-CA) can help solve
problems, though the real test is aural - how does it sound read aloud?
worth pointing out the pitfalls of relying on the way a word looks as a guide
to its syllables and that sometimes words are run together or are so short
as to be normally unstressed. There are many quirks but the simplest
debugging routine is to read the poem aloud, which will reveal any
awkwardness in scansion or rhythm, or difficulties due to misplaced stress
or juddering combinations of words.
A simple introduction to beat and stress is to get players to count the
syllables in their own names and notice where they put the stress as they
say them; then move to examples of three, then four beats. I usually end by
asking them to count the beats in a long word, such as supercalifragilistic-
expialidosious, to encourage patience.
Players should be encouraged to write out lists of rhymes, as appropriate,
once they have begun a formal pattern, in order that they can consider the
possibilities and plan ahead within the rhyme's restrictions, rather than
rushing ahead and messing up the poem by putting down the first word
they think of without examining its and the wider possibilities and deciding
how these will affect what the verse is about and how it will reach a
Given as a form, the scansion, structure and story can be built bit by bit,
jigsaw fashion, by players of almost any age and ability. They may not
grasp the whole pattern or write a wholly cohesive poem but will have been
involved in a method and way of thinking that can be practiced
Nevertheless, I feel it's not necessary, except in the cases where the form
absolutely demands it, to hold precisely to strict rhythm patterns.
For further information on this sort of game click on games listed under BASIC CRAFT in the INDEX side bar.