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Writer's Room => Kidlit Genres => Topic started by: Myra on September 03, 2003, 11:47 AM

Title: Also rhyming-related: singsong
Post by: Myra on September 03, 2003, 11:47 AM
Having taken the plunge, and hit "post" on my introduction, I now have a real-live question to ask:

What, exactly, is sing-song rhyme?

I'm writing a rhyming picture book, and I'm enjoying the challenge immensely. I think I have a good ear for meter, and would never use forced rhymes, or, heaven forbid, near rhymes.

I've read all I can find about what makes good rhyme vs. dreadful rhyme, and I keep seeing admonitions against sing-song. I'd certainly like to avoid it, but nowhere can I find an explanation of what sing-song actually is. This probably means I'm terribly dense, and that it's obvious to everyone else, but that's okay!

If anyone could take the time to spell it out for me, I'd be oh-so-grateful.

Title: Re:Also rhyming-related: singsong
Post by: Verla Kay on September 03, 2003, 12:01 PM
Even though most of my books I've sold are in rhyme, I don't consider myself an "expert" in rhymes, but I think what they are talking about is a story that is more rhyme than story.

In other words, you have a VERY regular beat and a VERY regular rhyming sequence and when you read it, what you notice most is the rhyme and rhythm of the story, NOT the story itself.  Words are in the story that don't make a lot of sense, but they rhyme perfectly.

The story is all-important in any manuscript, but especially in rhyming ones.  If someone is reading your story and "forgets" that it's in rhyme, then you have written a truly good rhyming story.  If they notice the regular rhyme and rhythm instead of the story, then it might border on being "sing-song."

Now, who out there knows a lot about poetry and can blast this theory of mine to shreds with some real knowledge?   ;D
Title: Re:Also rhyming-related: singsong
Post by: Anne Marie on September 03, 2003, 12:23 PM
I like to walk my dog each day.
I like to watch her run and play.
I like to see her jump at balls.
I like to see her roam the halls.
I never want to see her die.
And if she does I'll surely cry.

Read it out loud.  ta DA ta DA ta DA ta DA


I like to walk my little dog each day.
I like to watch her jump and leap and play.
She keeps me off my feet and makes me run.
And when we dance we all have lots of fun.

The rhythm is different but still sing-songy: ta DA ta DA ta DA ta DA ta DA


When I'm home alone I feel scared in my house.
I jump and I run if I see Maisie Mouse
who skitters and scampers and grabs my last cheese.
I wish that that mouse would just go away, please.

That's in a triple meter.  Still sing-songy:

ta DA ta ta DA ta ta DA ta ta DA
ta DA ta ta DA ta ta DA ta ta DA


And yeah, some great poetry is written in similar rhythms but it usually has some other great redeeming qualities, which these examples do not!   Hope this helps a bit.

Anne Marie

Title: Thank you both!
Post by: Myra on September 03, 2003, 10:43 PM
So, basically, if the rhythm is relentless and the rhyme is ostentatious, that's sing-song, right? I believe I've got it! I really appreciate both your thoughts.

Title: GUILTY?
Post by: Jen K. on September 04, 2003, 06:45 AM
URGH!  I'm still confused.  Relentless rhythm and ostentatious rhyme?  Sounds terrible.  I understand 'forced' rhyme, but what delineates 'perfect' rhyme, which you MUST have, from a 'regular' beat and a 'regular' rhyming sequence?  

The story must come first, but should you shake up your meter and change it around to avoid being sing-song?  Don't kids enjoy some level of predictability and repetition, provided it's not overdone?  What is the trick to switching rhythm and meter without tripping up the reader?  Is it a subjective determination?  

I just read a new release about a frog on a log in a bog (cute counting book, but contrary to the idea that you should avoid obvious rhymes at all costs)...

Throwing myself on the mercy of the board...  :)
Title: Re:Also rhyming-related: singsong
Post by: Myra on September 04, 2003, 09:44 AM I'm less sure I understand! But I did find Anne Marie's examples helpful. Her rhythm was like a march, or a heartbeat, and if it went on for 20 or so stanzas, as in a picture book, it would seem "relentless". At least to me!

And all I meant by "ostentatios" was rhyme that's more noticable than the story, like Verla said. That has to be tied up with the sing-song rhythm.

I don't really understand, either, how best to switch up meter/rhythm, so I hope someone will answer that one!

And, just to make it clear, although I'm sure it's obvious...I know nothing technical about poetry. So there's little point in listening to me!  :)
Title: Re:Also rhyming-related: singsong
Post by: maggiet on September 04, 2003, 10:40 AM
Maybe someone, who is good at rhyming/rhythm could rewrite a couple of the samples so they read properly? then we would be able to compare "sing-song" with more appropriate verse??? anyone???

Maggie (who thought she could rhyme and now isn't so sure) :-\
Title: Re:Also rhyming-related: singsong
Post by: Anne Marie on September 04, 2003, 11:27 AM

It would be hard to rewrite the examples because the issue with them isn't the rhythm.  It's that they are so trite that the rhythm overtakes the meaning--that's what Verla was talking about.

I could only find one rhyming picture book upstairs other than Berenstain Bears but the one I found is a good example of how rhythm doesn't have to be sing-songy. It's consistent, but still full of lively surprises.

The title is VERY BORING ALLIGATOR and it's by Jean Gralley.  I hope I'm not violating copyright by posting this snippet:

"Very Boring Alligator
came one day to play
but he stay-stay-stayed

Though consistently rhythmic, it's lively and fun. The repetition of "stay-stay-stayed" emphasizes the length of his unwelcome visit.  

"I lurched.  I moaned.  I gurgled and groaned.
I looked very scary, but he wouldn't go away."

On this page, Gralley breaks away from the established rhythm in that first line but when you read aloud, the periods make pauses that fill the spot left by the missing syllable and emphasizes the repeated efforts she's making to get rid of the alligator.

Is this making sense to anyone but me?

There are lots of good rhyming books and I'm betting some people around here can come up with some more examples.

Here's the copyright info in case anyone wants to be legalistic:

Gralley, Jean.  Very Boring Alligator.  New York:  Henry Holt and Company.  2001.

Anne Marie    

Title: Re:Also rhyming-related: singsong
Post by: Myra on September 05, 2003, 09:01 AM
Anne Marie,

But in your first examples, you did say the rhythm was sing-songy...didn't you? But you also did say that if the subject matter had been better, the rhythm wouldn't be such a problem. Hmmm.

Okay, so the bottom line is that in rhyme, the story has to rock, even more so than in prose--because otherwise, the rhyme will be overpowering and seem sing-songy. Right?

Again, thanks so much for your willingness to help me out here!