RHYME. GRIME. SLIME. WORK TIME.
This is what rhyme is to me. This is my gripe session. So please bear with me. I hope I'm not the only one not getting it.
I’ve been told that editors seldom accept rhyming books unless it is well written. Rhyming picture books must have a story with perfect rhythm and rhyme. I always thought I was pretty good with rhyme, but the edits I get from my critique group tell me otherwise. So, I avoid writing in rhyme because the term "perfect" intimidates me.
I've read a few articles on how to write in rhyme. I also embraced the suggestions I get from my critique group. I even studied numerous rhyming picture books. But after much researching, it still left me dumbfounded.
Here is an example of a verse I read in a picture book. I found quite a few words that were near rhymes, not perfect rhymes:
Baby's got some brand new shoes,
white as light, stripe of blue...
Baby likes to run so fast,
spin in circles on the grass.
After all those jumps and hops...
...sees what has green polka dots.
Shoe and blue rhyme, but not shoes and blue. Fast and grass, hops and dots are not perfect rhymes. I’ve been criticized for using these types of rhymes in my writing. But apparently in some cases, it is okay.
I've been told to count the beats (the stresses) and syllables in each measure. There should be a pattern throughout the book.
But I don't always find this to be true...or maybe it is and I am reading the passage the wrong way. The tricky thing about rhyme is everyone reads differently and may place emphasis in different places of a word.
I've also been criticized for not having equal amount of syllables per line throughout my story. I honestly don't think it is necessary to have equal amount of syllables per line. Is it? I don't see it consistently in picture books. The important thing are the number of beats per measure.
Another rule of rhyme is to avoid the rearrangement of words to accommodate the rhyme. You shouldn't use a word just for rhyme sake. This often ends up in a speech that's unnatural. Fortunately, I didn't see much of this in the books I've studied.
So what does this tell me?
a) Sometimes rules are meant to be broken
b) If you are a well-known author or a previously published author, it’s okay
c) If you write a really good story, sometimes other technical elements can slide
d) I still don't understanding how to write in rhyme
Do you know of a great book or website that will teach me how to write great rhyme? Please share them with me. Here are a few resources I found helpful:
Writing Stories in Rhythm and Rhyme, by Dori Chaconas
The Meter Maids by Corey Rosen Schwartz & Tiffany Strelitz Haber
Debbie Diesen, Guest blogger, on Julie Hedlund's Write Up my Life
Rhymes and Misdemeanors by Hope Vestergaard
Be sure to check back. In my next debut picture book author interview, I have New York Time's #1 Bestseller, Sherri Duskey Rinker of GOODNIGHT, GOODNIGIHT, CONSTRUCTION SITE! Discover how this debut author made it to #1...