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I was wondering if someone could help me figure out readers' preferences when writing down versions of lyrics/verses as I seem to have lost judgement somewhat.

1A) Hey Jude, don't make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better

1B)Hey Jude,
don't make it bad
take a sad
song and make it better
remember to let her
into your heart
then you can start
to make it better

2A)There was a writer loved by folks
who liked to sit and read his jokes
he'd play word games
and think up names of books
which amused all these folks

2B)There was a writer loved by folks
who liked to sit and read his jokes
he'd play word games
and think up names
of books which amused all these folks

*by the way, does removing the rhyme make any difference to you? e.g.

3A)he'd play word games
and think up lines of books
which amused all these folks

3B)he'd play word games
and think up lines
of books which amused all these folks

If anyone could offer opinions as to which one is more appealing/legible/less disruptive, that would be much appreciated!

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Writing down songs is often a little ambiguous; their natural state of being is not written down but sung.

If you wanted to break Hey Jude into more lines, you could do it like this:

Hey Jude,

don't make it bad,

take a sad song

and make it better;

remember

to let her into your heart,

then you can start

to make it better.

None of those breaks is random! They only follow a somewhat finer structure of the melody than the four-line version. You probably won't want to do this (imagine the chunk of the page it would take in the songbook) but in principle you could. Perhaps if you wanted to make it easier for the singers to keep track.

In contrast,

take a sad

song and make it better

or

remember to let her

into your heart

...is just wrong. And would deeply confuse anyone not familiar with the song trying to sing along from the written lyrics. Because it goes contrary to the melody.

Always follow the rhythm.

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You should follow the metrical and rhythmic structure of the song. You should follow the musical phrases, which often match the phrase structure in English (but not always). In many songs there is rhyme at the end of a line, but some songs don't rhyme, and sometimes the rhyme is in the middle of line.

Hey Jude is usually written as:

Hey Jude, don't make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better

If, however, an author has indicated that they want the lines split differently, then follow the author's wishes. In a limerick, the metric structure is very fixed It is based on the "anapest" a metric structure of three syllables. The limerick has three anapests in the first two lines, then two in lines 3 and 4. The line break often happens in the middle of a phrase of English. Limericks also have rhyme, but that is not the reason for the line break:

There was a writer loved by folks
who liked to sit and read his jokes
he'd play word games
and think up names
of books which amused all these folks

The rhyme is essential to the limerick. If you remove the rhyme, you're breaking the rules of game (which can be done for comic reasons)

There once was a limerick by me
That didn't rhyme at all
It didn't have the two little middle lines
that are much shorter than the others
But worst of all, this limerick by me
had one line too many.

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  • The bad limerick is an old joke from Griff Rhys Jones.
    – James K
    Jan 24 '20 at 22:50
  • Your definition of a limerick is fine but "There was a writer" isn't a limerick. It is iambic, until line 5 which goes wonky and uses anapests. Jan 25 '20 at 1:49
  • True, but I think it is meant to follow a similar pattern to limericks
    – James K
    Jan 25 '20 at 7:50
  • Yes, perhaps you're right. I was always feel a bit let down by limericks where the last word of the 5th line is the same as that of the 1st or 2nd line. But even Lear wrote those sometimes. Jan 25 '20 at 11:58

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