Did I write that out loud?
When writing, I trust my ear. I trust the music in a line that my ear hears. Even that professor said I had a good ear.
But I have trouble hearing stresses.
(As if I need any more stress.)
My natural lilt tends to add more than a normal person hears. It makes pentameter or tetrameter tricky.
So I cheat. I count syllables. My pentameter line, loosely iambic, has 10 syllables, give or take a stress.
Why am I sharing this? Probably because I woke up in the middle of the night trying to craft a line for another villanelle—even though I haven't finished the first one—and it got me thinking about formal verse, or my "casual formal" verse.
(I don't know how to diagram a sentence, either.)
Do you count your stresses? Do you look for music in your lines?