Rhythm is defined as “the patterned ‘movement’ of language created by the choice of words and their arrangement.” While this definition sounds simple, rhythm is an incredibly complex concept. Rhythm happens on a syllabic level, a word level, a sentence level, a paragraph level, and a page level. While diction, meter, and punctuation affect rhythm on the word and sentence level, sentence length and even white space affect rhythm on the paragraph and page level. This second area is what I want to discuss as I think it is the less obvious way to create rhythm and the most useful for prose.
Here is an example I love:
Everything in our life has rhythm. Our hearts, our breath, our walk. The waves, the wind, the way we rock our children. It speaks to us. It gets into our veins like the blood that pumps there and satisfies a very primitive need in us as living creatures. We crave it just as we crave stories. So to be able to combine these two, story and rhythm: what more could we need?