‘ELLIE AND BEN’ – A Rhyme and Meter Editing Example

‘ELLIE AND BEN’ – A Rhyme and Meter Editing Example

 

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A REAL LIFE RHYME AND METER EDITING EXAMPLE WITH A CLIENT’S WORK

Thank you for ordering my manuscript editing service. I will give you my impressions as a first time reader, as well as, offer comments for improvement and/or clarification. My words will always be in pink. Please note any deletions against the original. Let’s get started…

ELLIE AND BEN

Ben counted her fingers and measured her size 11

Then snuggled and squeezed her and gazed in her eyes. 11

He rocked her wee body all snug in his arms 11

While vowing to always protect her from harm. 11

“But if a time comes I can’t be by your side 11

and you’re frightened and scared and you’re worried inside. 11

I’ve written a note filled with words I hold true 11

for surviving this world- a poem for you.” 11

OK… so far this is very good.

Rhyme and meter is a difficult writing medium.

Each line is 11 beats which is no small feat. You’ve chose the most difficult way to tell a story in – meter and rhyme – and you’ve stuck with the beat pattern and rhyme extremely well.

My only suggestion would be to add as much action as you can. You’ve done a great job with the rhyme and meter so far, but push it more. For example, all 4 lines in the second stanza are about Ben, the dad, who has written a poem for the daughter. You could say that in just 2 lines and then add more info about the world they live in or a character.

Every sentence should do one of two things – reveal character or plot. That’s it. Nothing extraneous. Even for rhyme and meter.

Ellie grew big. She grew faster and smarter.

She made forts out of chairs which she built with her father.

With Ben in her life there was no need to fear

Because not far away he was hovering near.

OK… in the above stanza I have made a few spelling corrections. Although it’s rhyme and meter spelling counts. Is this a male name or female (?) – as Ellie (with two L’s) is a girl’s name.

Her first day of school came around very soon,

Ellie leapt and she squealed and she raced round the room.

Ben pulled her aside as he reached in his coat,

Just give me one second to read you this note.”

“I’m so very busy with tying this lace

and packing and dressing and washing my face.

Put it away for another time later.

Love you my Daddy, catch you ‘round alligator.”

***OK.. so this is Ellie’s first day of school which means she’s about 5-6 years old. Why is she saying “catch you ’round alligator”…??? Is she walking to school on her own? That seems young to walk to school on her own. Especially nowadays. It says she’s running around her room getting dressed so Ben is trying to read her the note then??

The note is such an important part of this rhyme and meter story that I would think that Ben would know it’s not a good time to try to read such an important note to a 6 year old on the morning of her first day at school.

If Ben tried to read it to her at a more appropriate time… like after dinner of the first day of school and they were interrupted by a surprise visit by grandma… or what ever.. it would give more importance to the note and the reason/s Ben is trying to give it to Ellie at a special time.

When Ben tries to give it to her at a time he knows she’ll be distracted it’s like he’s asking for rejection. To offer their child something this important (a note written especially to the child on the hard earned lessons of life) a parent would pre-plan it better.***

Ellie grew big. She grew faster and smarter.

She wore tight little skirts that sure shocked her poor father.

With Ben in her life there was no need to fear

because not far away he was hovering near.

Uhm… I’m not sure this above stanza works with it being exactly the same as a previous stanza except line 2. It made sense when Ellie was small and building chair forts and he was near by but as a young teen in tight skirts… uhm.. no. Dad is not going to be that near.

In no time at all came the night of her prom,

Ellie giggled and twisted and tried to stay calm.

Ben pulled her aside as he reached in his coat,

“Just give me one second to read you this note”.

“I’m so very busy with fixing my hair

and putting on makeup to head down the stairs.

Put it away for another time later?

Love you my Daddy, catch you ‘round alligator”.

***Again…*** Ben has chosen a time when he knows Ellie will be distracted. He’s setting himself up for more rejection and ensuring that Ellie won’t absorb the important message/s of the note even if she did calm down for a few minutes. Right?

It’s also starting to sound like you are reaching for rhymes.

Please remember the storyline is ALWAYS first. The rhyme and meter serve the story not the other way around.***

Ben became ill, life got harder and harder.

He struggled and fought to remain the best father.

He told her, “I’m fine,” so that she wouldn’t fear

And as much as he could he still hovered near.

Then came the day of her trip overseas.

Ellie skipped and she squeaked and she jumped up with glee.

Ben pulled her aside as he reached in his coat,

“Just give me one second to read you this note”.

“I’m so very busy with checking my flights

And booking the room where I’ll spend my first night.

Put it away for another time later?

Love you my Daddy, catch you ‘round alligator.”

*** At what point in Ellie’s life is this? It could be before college, it could be afterward, it could be ten+ years in the future after a bad break up or divorce. Ellie could be going off to the military or the peace corps or vacation.. we don’t know. You can add specifics without changing the storyline. In fact, specifics are the only thing in a story that make it Y-O-U-R-S.

Right now we don’t know much about Ellie or Ben since there hasn’t been much detail about who they are and their relationship. A writer only has their words to get across their story to their reader. The reader can not read your mind. We can not see your story as you see it.

You only have your words to do that. You won’t have a chance to fill in the blanks or explain what you meant. What will help is this; the more imagery you can conjure up in the reader’s mind the better. Right now we have no idea what they look like or their environment.

It doesn’t take much to add detail. A few well places verbs and nouns will do it.***

Ben became weak, days got harder and harder

He struggled and fought to remain the best father.

He sat by the phone so that she wouldn’t fear,

Just one call away and he’d always feel near.

Then out of the blue Ben took a bad turn,

Ellie shrieked and she yelped and flew home with concern.

Ellie my dear can you reach in my coat

and dig all around for that old silly note.”

The second she turned was when Ben headed on.

He huffed and he puffed and with that he was gone.

But just before passing he said, “See you later

I love you my darling, catch you ‘round alligator”.

Ellie grew wise, she got stronger and smarter

Not a day would go by she’d not think of her father.

With him in her heart there was no need to fear,

because one thought away and he always felt near

But there were those days Ellie felt at a loss,

She felt helpless and scared and at nights she would toss.

But when this would happen she’d wrap in Ben’s coat

And read all the words that he wrote in that note:

YOUR MUD MAP FOR LIFE

One thing I’ve found is that life is quite strange,

It twists and it turns then it loops round again.

It can leave you confused with its dead ends and traps,

so to help you through these, here’s a basic mud map.

Not everyone knows what a “mud map is.”

Now let me begin with a word of advice-

not everyone out there is honest and nice.

So to find out if someone has honest intentions,

don’t look to their words, give their actions attention

OK…. at this point the rhyme and meter are starting to seem very forced and it’s sounding a bit preachy and repetitive. I understand what you’re trying to do with the repetition. It might work, but you’re sacrificing the story for the repetition and rhyme. I would suggest telling us more about the interactions between father and daughter. What do they do together?

What do they talk about? Show us how they relate to each other.. the nature of their relationship. That will draw us in and then when you use some repetition it’ll have more impact.

You see you are a gem, some may see that in you

Then try to take swipes at your feminine virtue

And make you feel guilty when making a stand.

But I’m telling you girl, draw those lines in the sand.

Now Ellie my darling, I must now impart-

If a careless young boy ever dares break your heart.

Then channel that love into something more true,

something more worthy, like- how about you?

Now here’s something else they won’t tell you in life,

You don’t have to have babies or be someone’s wife.

If you want to feel love while here on this earth,

Then first of all darling, you must know your worth.

To find your own worth, there is only one way.

It cannot be found in the words others say,

Or from those in your life, or from where you reside.

To love your own self you must go inside.

You see, looking outside for the worth that you are,

and to find how to act, think and be. Well so far

what I’ve heard from the world is quite tawdry and cheap

and leaves out the fact that true beauty lies deep.

OK… at this point…. it’s sounding preachy.

It’s a Great message… please don’t misunderstand me, but it’s best told through the interactions with her father. Make it into a real story. You can SHOW us these sentiments by having Ellie and her father play catch together.

He goes to her baseball games and cheers her on. The do homework together. They ride their bikes together. A boy pulls her ponytail in school and she tells him about it and he hugs her and tells her little boys are dumb… or whatever.

Do you see what I mean? It’s like you’re trying to sum up their relationship in a very long note at the end of Ben’s life. It will hit home more with Action and Interaction between father and daughter.

***I don’t know what else to tell you here. These are great messages but they are general and sound familiar. It also assumes that the reader will readily agree.

Again, these are great messages, but I encourage you to dig deeper to voice them as only YOU can.

Not to be ironic, but in general… you need more specifics. The reader wants to read a unique voice… even if they don’t agree. The reader wants to be given an alternative way of looking at something. That’s why we read… to get a different perspective. It’s interesting and exciting to see the world through someone else’s eyes.

Giving us your unique perspective through the unique characters of Ben and Ellie will make this story stand out and make it Y-O-U-R-S.

As a reader, we should start to get to know the writer to some extent through their characters. We kinda feel like we know James Patterson and Stephen King a little… right?Even if we don’t like their stuff they have their own style and their own voice. I encourage you to dig for that in your writing as well. ***

Now over to beauty. There’s no bigger joke

Than those billboards and pictures that try to provoke

You to hate who you are and the way that you look.

It’s all just for money, a scam run by crooks.

So don’t spend a second with trying to compare.

Your own looks with others, sweet girl, don’t you dare.

When you love all your flaws and then live from that space,

From there you’ll see beauty in everyone’s face.

Again..the above is the kind of message that’s best to have some type of action and interaction with so it makes a bigger impact.

And speaking of living and what you might do

With your time here on earth, well, that’s all up to you.

My only advice is to watch for fools games,

like lusting for prestige, power and fame.

They are illusions, traps and dead ends.

They’ll never give back all that time you will spend

On pining and chasing and wanting a fix,

Which have fleeting affects. Their luster’s a trick.

OK… it seems to have gone astray here. At this point in the poem it’s starting to feel like the father daughter relationship was just a set up for the rant.

If that’s what you intended that’s fine. However, that’s not what it seems like you were going for. I can’t stress enough how much of what is being said here can be Demonstrated through ACTION between the father and daughter. You’ve shown the relationship from baby to high school grad… that’s a lot of time and growing pains to go through. I encourage you to weave that in and leave the preaching in the pulpit.

You’ll want a good wage that can cover your needs,

But chasing the dollar, on your soul that will feed.

Don’t choose a vocation based on financials

You’ll get way more back from something substantial.

What gives such rewards will strike passion in you,

And for some, through their life, they may have quite a few.

You’ll know what it is when you lose track of time

in what you are doing. And you won’t give a dime.

And if in the case you don’t know what to do,

with no job and no purpose feels destined to you.

Just do every act with integrity girl,

for some that might be their true gift to the world.

Now for taking each step, we’re all fitted out

with a top notch compass for figuring out

Which way you should go. It’s that voice from inside.

You must head what it says, then hold on for the ride.

Now let’s talk about things that can get in your way,

A road block for most is their fears, I would say.

Everyone’s got them, they stem from your mind.

You’ll need them for scrapes of the dangerous kind.

But most of our fears are bogus illusions,

their taunting and jeering are such an intrusion

To everyday life. Like fearing rejection

and failure and heights, they’ll all end in dejection

You must face them my girl, and stare them right down

And call them on out on their fictitious grounds.

They may still exist, but whatever you do-

just please don’t allow them to paralyse you.

Now if a time comes that you’ve gone the wrong way

with one of the points I have said, that’s ok.

Don’t build up great walls or thicken your skin,

for wisdom and healing, you must go within.

You see anger breeds fears and so does reliving

the past in your head. Instead get to forgiving

the actions of others. And here’s where to start-

with truth in your heart, own where you played a part.

Then forgive yourself too, then get up again

and don’t spend a second with trying to defend

the mistakes you have made. You’re human my girl!

The purpose of life is to learn from the world.

Alright my dear, I’ll now end on this note-

can you find in your map the clear pattern I wrote?

I’ve repeated the point about going inside.

For all of your needs, let within be your guide.

Inside you are whole, intact and eternal.

Inside can’t be severed by something external.

It is love, it speaks peace; on it you can trust

in any event, place or space you are thrust

It resides in all things as the one common fixture,

which means it directs with a far bigger picture

than you can perceive, think or try to create.

So run every thought past that calm inner space.

And them with this knowledge, my darling sweet girl,

go dance and go dream and go right round the world.

And embrace every second, not one can be bought

at a price to relive. It’s true- life is so short.

Ellie counted her fingers and measured her size

then snuggled and squeezed her and gazed in her eyes

She rocked her wee body all snug in her arms

While vowing to always protect her from harm.

“But if the day comes I can’t be by your side

and you’re frightened and scared and you’re worried inside.

I’ll leave you a note filled with words I hold true

for surviving this world- a poem now for you.

OK…. I can see what you’ve tried to do here.

I applaud you.

There are some wonderful, fabulous messages of empowerment here that all young women should hear and hold dear.

You’re ability to do rhyme and meter and keep the beat pattern throughout the story is remarkable. I know how difficult it is to do and you’ve done it extremely well. It’s an accomplishment to even tackle rhyme and meter and you should be proud of that.

However, my job as an editor is to hold you accountable as a writer. So I will continue my critique from that perspective.

***As well meaning as this story is it misses the mark in terms of impact. What I mean by that is it’s missing the essence of s-t-o-r-y. All good stories follow this basic outline:

Introduction–> Rising Action–> Climax–> Falling Action–> Resolution ***

*** Story is always first. Above the rhyme and meter. No matter who you’re writing for there needs to be the above story arc. Every single successful movie, TV show, novel or kids book starts with the above outline.***

The above outline is nearly non-existent in this story. I would suggest that for every “lesson” you want to pass on, even through rhyme and meter, to young readers I would find a corresponding event or scenario that you could put Ellie in that would allow her (with her father’s help) to arrive at the wisdom of that particular lesson. Did I make that clear?

***Also, think of the climactic point in the story and build to that. What kind of challenge could you put Ellie in that the reader could watch her get out of and learn a lesson from?? That would be very impactful.***

I do like the repetitive tie-ins.

They will be better served with more dramatic and intense challenges for Ellie to face. Although please clear up the note issue. It’s difficult to know who wrote it and who’s reading it.

I think I will leave it there. However, I have to say (again) how impressive your use of rhyme and meter are. It’s a fairly rare talent to be able to do without messing it up or pulling your hair out. Do I sound bitter? (Ha!) Anyway… good job.

You can make this much stronger by focusing on the person and the character that Ellie is. Then watch her in your imagination and see where she takes you to.

That’s part of the fun of writing. When you have a strong objective/outline you can let your characters take the lead in your imagination. They often come up with wonderful, surprising things you couldn’t have thought of on your own.

***If you want to have an impact on your readers I would urge you to dig more deeply into your own perspective. I think many readers would agree with the sentiments in this story. However, I’m struggling to find Y-O-U-R voice here.

That’s what a reader really wants. A writer that makes them think. You can only do that when you strip down your own viewpoint, look it dead in it’s naked eye and refurbish it into a one-of-a-kind collage of words.***

I’ll leave it there.


Had enough of editing examples?

What about some old fairytales? How about a few writing tips?

Try these from Margaret AtwoodScott Sigler, Paulo Cohelo

Or check out this Disney Classic – Chicken Little


Wishing you much imagination…

Contact Renee at: thewritersnexus@gmail.com

Have you heard of the 7 Deadly Sins of Writing Children’s Books? Find it here…

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