April 14, 2013

To Rhyme or not to Rhyme

A good many children's stories are written in rhyme. I don't necessarily advocate that you try this. It's difficult to pull off and some publishers have a strict policy against rhyming stories. They simply won't publish them.

However, if you feel this is the best way to tell your story, then proceed with caution. Rhyme has to be perfect.  No cheating.  Liz Waniewski, editor of Dial Books for Young Readers once told me that rhyme has to be "spot on."   Song writers and poets can get away with it.  Children's writers must produce perfect rhyme.

Author Tara Lazar has four pointers:
1.  Rhyme scheme can dictate story, but shouldn't. Tales shouldn't be forced into the confines of the rhyme.

2.  Editors want to see rhyme that surprises them—not the overly simple, one-syllable rhyme schemes that readers can guess the word before they get there.

3.  Forced rhyme, words that don't exactly rhyme unless you mispronounce them, can ruin a story.

4.  The meter or beat must be perfect—not just matching the number of syllables in each line, but having the correct emphasis on those syllables.

According to author Laura Backes of Writing-world.com, "All picture books consist of characters and a plot.  The plot ideally starts at the moment where everyday life for the main character changes from ordinary to extraordinary. The story proceeds through the extraordinary events the character faces, and his or her efforts to return life back to normal. Once this happens, the story ends immediately.  The mistake many writers make is that they make the rhyme more important than the story."

Don't be intimidated to write in verse.  It's not easy, but not impossible.  But if you love playing with language and if rhyme is an integral part of the story than give it try.

Check out these books to see how rhyme is achieved:
Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy
Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess.

For the entire list of 25 great rhyming books, go to:  http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2013/02/picture-books-that-rhyme.html

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