Rhythm is usually defined as the regular pattern of notes found in a stanza of music or a poem. However, I prefer to think of it as John Hartford, American bluegrass composer, said so eloquently, "The whole universe is based on rhythms."
As a writer, I am well aware of the rhythm contained in each and every story I read. It doesn't matter what genre the book is--crime or historical, adventure or action, romantic or mystery. They are all written with a regular pattern of long and short sentences and words to set the mood, and to move the reader either quickly or slowly through the story.
Today, though, while I sit here at my computer, I am trying to decide how to switch my mind from one rhythm to another. The tween novel that I have been working on all day, is another action/adventure novel. It requires a fast paced rhythm. Set in the present in a small community wracked by a hailstorm of fire, the main character, 13 year old Colton, is forced to face his fear of fire in order to save both himself and his sister. Yet, he holds a secret that not even his sister remembers. Working on this new novel is like running a race, and if you know me at all, you know, I am not a runner. Nope! Not me. So, I left today's writing on an arc that will take me to the first crescendo, so to speak, because frankly, I was out of breath. But, I found I am not finished with writing--at least not for today. So, I began work on another novel, and there lies my problem--switching rhythms.
The other novel is a slower, more thoughtful story of a young pregnant teen who sinks into depression. It is not one that takes you to the front line of a firestorm, but one that makes you take a walk in Sara's shoes. Instead of sentences such as, "The monster raced behind us, snapping it's jaws, and gobbling up tree after tree," I find myself writing, "I am but a maple tree that has been milked of its life-sustaining sap--alone and empty."
Moving from one work to the other is the reason I find myself thinking about the lyric's of "Listen to the Falling Rain." I am trying to get in Sara's mindset. What is it like to be a teenager who discovers her pregnancy months after party she barely remembers? What is it like to hide that pregnant from her friends and from her parents?
Now I know of several authors who work on multiple books at one time. Today, I have discovered that I am not one of them. I am a writer who can only work on one rhythm at a time. So the rest of my day will be spent reading the rhythm other authors create. How about you? Can you switch rhythms when you write?