Words that rhyme are a frequently overlooked literary device in fiction.
Oh, sure, they are the stock and trade of the poet. But, for some reason, novelists tend to overlook them.
But, how do you portray this so that the reader feels it just as the main character does?
I couldn’t do it with prose like Raymond Chandler used in The Big Sleep.
It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them.
That would have been a big yawn for the reader.
A Shocking Affair
I couldn’t do it with prose like Tolstoy used in Anna Karenina.
Everything was in confusion in the Oblonskys’ house. The wife had discovered that the husband was carrying on an intrigue with a French girl, who had been a governess in their family, and she had announced to her husband that she could not go on living in the same house with him. This position of affairs had now lasted three days, and not only the husband and wife themselves, but all the members of their family and household, were painfully conscious of it.
It just didn’t capture the mood.
Then It Hit Me!
Finally, after a lot of pulling my hair out, the answer came to me. Words that rhyme!
Let’s take a look at this extended example of words that rhyme from The Vagabond King.
But each evening, while The Old Man’s scratched and skipping records spun round and round filling the tiny house with the sound of the Blues, those thoughts vanished from my mind. The Blues. Boom. The Blues. Like the contents of a Mojo bag, the Blues contained a magical mix of black cat bone and crossroads dirt, of loves that were lost and loves that were never meant to be, of notes that floated like cigarette smoke and sounds that washed away the memory of my working day.
Peppered with images of the bordello and the Bible, those songs were flavored with all the passions of a Baptist preacher who still savored the sins of the flesh. It was a blend of back talkin’, butt shakin’ and cat callin’ and, as Magda swayed seductively back and forth before the stove, stirring her magic pot with a large wooden spoon, tongues of steam billowed up and swirled around her body like spirits from the black abyss. Sometimes the delicate strap of her black lace bra slipped from underneath her sleeveless blouse on her bare white shoulder like an invitation for me to see. All I thought of was humping as the thump,thump, thumping of the Blues mimicked the beat of my heart, pumping my blood until it bubbled through my veins like bootlegged corn whiskey. Oh, I imagined myself licking her willing breasts and neck like those lucky tongues of steam until, with a single wisp of hair hanging undone upon her forehead, like the swaying tail of a witch’s cat, she was ravished.
So, if you are having a problem with your novel and something is just not right. Try using words that rhyme to develop a mood that keeps your readers reading.