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Calling all rhymers!

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Have you studied rhyming in a technical sense or do you think that rhyming comes naturally? I thought I had a natural talent for it, until an editor brought me up short with an admonition to make sure my rhyming was consistent. I must admit - I don't have a clue what that means. Perhaps you seasoned veterans can fill me in!

Thanks- Donna J.
#1 - September 03, 2003, 07:47 AM

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Hi, Donna J,

I'm a "natural" rhymer and have never studied poetry at all and I had the same problem you are talking about when I first started to submit some of my rhymes.  Over time, I've learned to be consistent, and now I think most of my rhymes are pretty good.  (And my publisher seems to agree, as they've bought 9 of my rhyming books now.)  

Sounds to me like the editor was trying to tell you your rhythm wasn't consistent.  For examples of rhythms and how to make them work, you might want to check out the Rhyming Right workshop on the Transcripts page of my website.  <http://www.verlakay.com>  

If you got a personal comment like that from an editor, you must be writing good stuff!  Take the time it needs to perfect your rhymes. (One of my little 215 word books - Broken Feather - took me five years to get right so it would sell -- and it was just named a "Best Book of the Year" by Bank Street College of Education in New York, so it was obviously worth the effort it took to get it right!  ) Don't give up until every word and every line is PERFECT, but always, always remember -- it's the story that counts!  The rhyme should enhance and augment the story, not "carry" it.  (Again, look at that workshop transcript mentioned above for more details on this.)

Happy Rhyming!
#2 - September 03, 2003, 08:41 AM
Verla Kay

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Donna J.,

One thing that writers often don't realize is that your accent makes a difference in what words rhyme.  Words that rhyme to you may not rhyme to someone else, and when you're writing those words, you need to be aware of how other people would read your work aloud.

For example, the way I speak and the people around me speak, HURL and SQUIRREL rhyme.  I only recently learned to my great surprise that apparently, to people who live elsewhere, they don't.  (I think we were talking about this particular example on Yella).  

I knew that different accents mean different pronunciations but I've always thought I had a good ear regardless.  This kind of thing may be playing into your rhymes, I don't know.  But it's worth thinking about.

A good rhyming dictionary might help.

Anne Marie
#3 - September 03, 2003, 08:49 AM
VAMPIRINA BALLERINA series (Disney-Hyperion)
SUNNY'S TOW TRUCK SAVES THE DAY (Abrams)
GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
among others

Well, Verla, that's a good way to see the silver lining!  ;D

It's the old story - lots of people had read my stuff, loved it, wanted more, etc. and then I find out that it's not really up to snuff at all.  :-[

I will check out your helpful suggestions. I should change my names to 'Sponge' because I am learning so much - and lovin' it!!

I look forward to seeing what everyone else has to say about this, too. Is rhyming a sore spot in children's publishing? I'm beginning to think it is!

Thanks again! - Donna J.

#4 - September 03, 2003, 08:49 AM

Anne Marie, you and I were posting at the same time and I didn't see your post!  ;D

Yes, the regional thing (or thang  ;)

does make a difference. I don't know without getting a good critique exactly what this editor meant, and I am too scared to ask. LOL!

Donna J.

#5 - September 03, 2003, 12:46 PM

I had another question concerning rhyme. If you have the plural of a word that rhymes with another one, is that a no-no? For instance:

tall
balls

or

wind
friends

Any opinions?



#6 - September 05, 2003, 08:31 AM

kateiam

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DISCLAIMER: I couldn't rhyme my way out of a bag.

with that said if I was reading a rhyming piece those 2 examples would feel very wrong to me.

just my two cents

Kate
#7 - September 05, 2003, 08:34 AM

Jen K.

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Another opinion...

I believe that's called near rhyme, and should be used sparingly (if there is a very, very good reason for it) or avoided if possible.    The second example is also dependent on the reader's regional accent.  I read the 'wind' with a short 'i' sound (igloo), and friend with a short 'e' sound (egg), or possibly a long 'i' sound, depending on the context.  
#8 - September 05, 2003, 09:03 AM

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Donna,

You might be able to get away with the first if everything else in the piece was perfect.

The second, no way.  Not only is there the 's' sound, but wind and friend don't rhyme.  That's a regional dialect thing--the very thing we were talking about before.

Kind of like how around here, people say 'ink pen' instead of just 'pen' because otherwise people might think you mean a straight pin--because people say them both "pin."

Anne Marie
#9 - September 05, 2003, 09:26 AM
VAMPIRINA BALLERINA series (Disney-Hyperion)
SUNNY'S TOW TRUCK SAVES THE DAY (Abrams)
GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
among others

I guess the regional thing is playing into this, because like you said, I say friend with the short 'i' sound. So to my ear, the words rhyme.  ;D

I had my 23 yrs. old daughter read my piece and she said, 'What?' very quizzically when I asked, 'which two words don't ryhyme?' She didn't get it either! Teehee!! So maybe that IS what the editor wherre I submitted the poem was referring to.

Could be....or it could be what Verla said about the rhythms, but it seems to me that your region could get your into trouble there, too! LOL!!  ;D
#10 - September 05, 2003, 10:03 AM

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Funny that we're talking about regional accents and pronounciations.  My roommate recently discovered that I don't pronounce short e's and i's any differently from each other if they're followed by an 'n' or an 'm.'  She can't figure out which letter I am pronouncing...apparently, it's somewhere in between.  My mom does the same thing, and a few other people I know who are on the heavier side of the accent spectrum where I'm from.

The kicker about this?  My name is Jen, which in Jen-speak is pronounced the same way as "gin," neither of which are pronounced "correctly."  Apparently, I don't say my own name right.  How's that for a revelation?
#11 - September 05, 2003, 10:20 AM

ROFLOL!!! I say your name like 'gin' as well! No wonder I was in trouble with friend and wind.

I guess we will have to find people from other regions to read our poems before we submit!!

Donna J.
#12 - September 05, 2003, 10:31 AM

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That's why I think online crit groups are SO great.  You have people from all over in your group reading your story, and you find these problems before they see the light of an editor's (or agent's) eyes.   :D
#13 - September 05, 2003, 10:52 AM
Verla Kay

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Verla, I just went to your site and read the entire transcript of 'Rhyming Right.'

From what I am reading on this thread and gleaning from the workshop, my problem is that some of the regional pronunciations are throwing me off and maybe I have been sloppy with 'near rhymes.' If I am ever able to be a part of a critique group, maybe that will help straighten me out!  ;D

Also, I saw Children's Better Health Institute mentioned in the workshop. Do they buy all rights the same as Highlights?

Thanks for pointing me to that workshop. I recommend that anyone with a penchant for rhyme visit Verla's site and read the transcript. www.verlakay.com

Donna J.
#14 - September 05, 2003, 12:58 PM

Okay, now I'm answering myself! lol! What a surprise. I talk to myself all the time!

I have another question: I had a poem rejected with a tip to 'watch my consistency.' (see original post)

I have re-worked it. Do you think it would be okay to re-submit? Has any of you ever done that with success? or does it just aggravate the editor? lol!

Thanks! - Donna J.

#15 - September 06, 2003, 06:36 AM

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What I've been told numerous times by editors is this:  Unless you are specifically asked to resubmit a story after revisions, they normally do NOT want to see a story again, even if they've made comments that will help you to make the story better. If they do want to see it again after revisions, they will ALWAYS say so.  Example:  If you can strengthen your characters and insert more humor, I'd be pleased to see this story again.  

Or something to that effect.  In other words, if they want to see it again, you will KNOW it and not have to guess or ask.  

However, if you wanted to send the editor a short letter thanking her for her suggestions on how to make your story better, and telling her that you have now finished revising it according to her suggestions and asking her if she might like to have another look at it -- that would be perfectly acceptable. She'll either say, "sure!"  or "no, thanks."

Good luck!
#16 - September 06, 2003, 10:18 AM
Verla Kay

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I guess I will have to find a new market for my new and improved version!  ;D

I have also been reading a lot of poetry in order to get even more of an 'ear' for the rhythm.

But don't you find that some of the stuff that IS published breaks the rules? I picked up a book a couple days ago like that.

Those of you who have had success with getting poetry published or a rhyming PB published, how long did it take for you to get it 'just right?'

Thanks! - Donna J.

#17 - September 07, 2003, 11:11 AM

Jen K.

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Donna J.,

Yes, much of the stuff that is published breaks the rules!  But you probably don't want to give them a reason to turn you down.  So, unless you have an exceedingly good reason that is essential to your plot/story, I'd avoid the rhyme no-nos as much as possible.  

I have a rhyming PB that was requested by several houses and agents.  Unfortunately, in my eagerness to get it out, I had it only minimally critiqued, though I did revise it a number of times.  I received several long, personal responses, and each time I used the editors' suggestion(s) to improve the manuscript.  

Unfortunately, now that it's finally polished and 'ready' (at least in my view), I'm out of appropriate houses to send to!  Sometimes the rejections following a request for manuscript are even more painful, as it feels like the potential of the premise was there, and I just failed in the execution (quality writing).    

I have now learned a very valuable lesson, both about having a manuscript thorougly critiqued during the revision process, AND about being too hasty to send out a manuscript.  This one story is waiting on one more response before it goes into my 'if only' drawer (as in, if only I hadn't been such an DOLT, DUH!).  

Nowadays, I get all my work critiqued thoroughly by a number of sources (experienced and not), and I still let it breathe, sometimes several times before sending it out.  Honestly, this often makes it a six month process at a minimum for me.  

I suspect there are other people that have a much easier time of it, but that's what has worked best for me.
#18 - September 07, 2003, 12:12 PM

Jen, I appreciate your thoughtful response and sharing your experience with me. I think that's what I did - got the cart before the horse, so to speak.

Do you have your work professionally critiqued? And by whom? Are you a member of any of the organizations that cater to children's writing?

Anyone? Jump in here!

I did find an illustrator/writer in my area that looked my work over. She thinks I have potential and made a few suggestions, which were so helpful. She and I would like to get a local crit group going, but with everyone being so busy, that's a difficult thing to do!

Donna J.
#19 - September 07, 2003, 06:14 PM

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The shortest time I've worked on one of my rhyming books (that sold) was 7 months.  (Orphan Train)  The longest one that sold took me 5 years (Broken Feather.)  Both books are around 200 words long. ;)
#20 - September 07, 2003, 07:17 PM
Verla Kay

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Do you put the same number of syllables in each line? In other words, if you have a four line stanza, are there 5 syllables in each line?

I have a four stanza poem. I just counted syllables. It goes like this: 5555, 4455, 6554, 5455.

Do I need to get it so every line of every stanza has 5? It 'sounds' right to my ear? How do you determine whether it is 'right?'

I hope these questions don't sound really stupid. I really do want to learn - obviously  ;D.

Donna J.
#21 - September 08, 2003, 10:29 AM

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They don't need to be all the same, Donna, and probably shouldn't be. BUT there SHOULD be a "pattern" to them.  For instance, my cryptic rhyming stories have this beat:

4,3,4,3 repeated throughout.

And the stress is always on the first and third syllables in each line.  It would be incredibly boring to read if the words in each line didn't "sing" to the readers and make them forget the beat of the lines in their delight at saying the fun words/phrases.
#22 - September 08, 2003, 08:33 PM
« Last Edit: September 08, 2003, 08:34 PM by Verla Kay »
Verla Kay

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Well, it was funny - when I got to counting that so many were five syllables, so I thought maybe I should work on making the rest of them that way! LOL!

I have SO much to learn! Thanks for the help!

Donna J.
#23 - September 08, 2003, 08:39 PM

Torty

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There are some great on-line resources to help perfect rhyme if your own ear is letting you down.
Just type "Rhyming meter" into any good search engine and there are many sites which explicitly outline conventional meters and how to adhere to them.
As I'm doing a course, I've had to study meter at length. I now know that I write in Iambic Heptameter most of the time- which is 4,3,4,3 with emphasis on every second syllable.
If a rhyme truly sounds right and you count the syllables and look them up, chances are that pattern has been used before and has a formal name, whether you know it or not.
Good Luck
#24 - September 09, 2003, 12:22 AM

Torty

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By the Way (No really, I just wanted to add another post to my credentials!)
I really find it helps to get another person to read your work aloud to you. I generally find a place in my stories that people have to read quickly, or some other error that we automatically adjust for ourselves when reading to make our dream stories "fit" the rhyme. Try it - if your reader flounders more than once (and they;re over 8 years old) , you might need to look at that section for a possible problem
#25 - September 09, 2003, 12:27 AM

Torty, thank you- for both posts!  ;D  ;D  ;D

I do run them past a variety of people, but like you said, they just read them through once or twice for enjoyment, and the story of it all. Which - that part is good - 'cause as Verla Kay said, the story must be the main thing!

I also downloaded a little freebie program that reads stuff to me. It's read in a funny, tinny voice, but it does help me catch when something is 'off.'

I will do what you said with the search engine. Thanks for the tip!

Donna J.
(aka DonnaBelle-  ;))


#26 - September 09, 2003, 06:34 AM

Susette

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We've gone over the language thing too recently in my crit group and with other crit partners. They would tell me some things rhymed and I'd be looking at it like. . . ???. . . Come to find out, it was all in the way we prounounced it!

While we may check and see what others say about dialect, I wonder if we shouldn't write geared toward NY dialect since that's where most of the publishers are that we're submitting to.  :D

I'm actually starting to like writing rhyming pb's. An editor at Dial told me I was on the right track, keep honing my skills. An agent just rejected a piece, but said it was close, and that he thought I'd get a lot of responses on it. I wrote him back and told him I was hoping for a sale! ha ha ha

Curious, how do you make those names and things scroll across the screen?

Susette
#27 - September 11, 2003, 09:18 PM

 ;D ;D ;D Write with a New York accent, huh? Now that would be stretch for this girl from southern Ohio!  ;)
Donna J.
#28 - September 11, 2003, 09:34 PM

ClaraRose

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Susette
To create the scrolling effect, use the arrow M  (<-M) in the "Add YABBC tags:" area.  

You simply click on the arrow M then insert the text to marque inbetween the two bracketed "move" s.    You can also do it by first highlighting the text you want to marque, then press the marque button (arrow M).

Hope you can understand what I'm trying to say!  Try it and see if you can get it to work.

#29 - September 11, 2003, 09:40 PM

bballmom

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This rhyme thing is an intriguing topic.  (I too am doing my best to post the most)

I just had a rhyming pb rejected by Melanie Kroupa.  she pointed out some things that hurt when I first read them but that now make sense. But now I am at a loss how to make it better!  She did say that she liked the language- so I think I had the meter, rhyme, etc correct.  alas, another one for the 'thinking about it' drawer.

It seems there are lots of us who are attracted to rhyme.  for me I think it is the flow and the feeling I get when I know I've got something that is beautiful, something that can be read over and over again.

Barb
#30 - September 12, 2003, 08:31 AM
« Last Edit: September 12, 2003, 08:32 AM by bballmom »

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