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Writer's Room => Picture Books (PB) => Topic started by: leonie-lueddeke on August 24, 2017, 08:33 PM

Title: Are near-rhymes really forbidden?
Post by: leonie-lueddeke on August 24, 2017, 08:33 PM
 I need help understanding why exactly all the industry advise out there is telling me that it is forbidden to use near rhyme in "rhyming" picture books.  The impact this has on my current project is so severe, that I decided to take a little research mission to Barnes and Noble last night... and what I found was picture book after picture book with imperfect rhymes- everywhere I looked.  They are out there- and lots of them! Now, I know people will tell me that the perfect rhyme rule is just especially true for new authors who are breaking into the market (like we need to prove ourselves as perfect rhymers  before being allowed to break the rules), but I honestly don't understand this.  Isn't the goal to have an engaging, well-formed, good-sounding story that people will enjoy and want to read and buy? It makes complete sense to me that meter and rhythm will make it or break it... but as long as these components are strong, than how can perfectly good near-rhymes be outlawed? Especially when they add to the creative and diversity of the whole? I just have to (want to?) believe that editors know good work when the read it... and wouldn't just throw out something that's solid because of such an ill-serving requirement. And the more I think about it in these terms... the more I just REALLY do not get it.

I honestly feel like the whole "movement" with agencies not liking rhyming books anymore (or not wanting to invest time and resources into trying to make rhyming books work) is self-inflicted. Forcing authors (aspiring authors especially- who's potential is still fresh, developing and undiscovered!) into working only in exact rhyme has got to be a major reason in what makes rhyming stories feel so contrived... and dreaded. I mean... how limiting is this??

ok... I'm obviously frustrated. My fear is that trying to conform will only cause me to throw the baby out with the bath water. And my counter-fear of course is that I will be rejected for not following the rules.  I look forward to your comments...
Title: Re: Are near-rhymes really forbidden?
Post by: dewsanddamps on August 24, 2017, 09:46 PM
I'm sorry about the frustration, Leonie.  :hug

Do you have a critique group? You might run your near-rhyme work past some people who know what they're doing and see what they say.

My instinct is that if you have one near rhyme you might get away with it, but it sounds like you have a number of them. I suspect that would read as less than professional work. (Sorry. I know that's aggravating.) I do remember seeing professional reviews that called out each and every near rhyme individually--exposing the imperfectly paired words to the world.
Title: Re: Are near-rhymes really forbidden?
Post by: Vijaya on August 25, 2017, 06:29 AM
I think the best way to test the waters is with your critique group if you have one or here in the critique section. If you are certain that this is the best you can make it, try sending out a couple of queries and see if anybody bites.

I find near-rhymes aggravating. And yes, many are published, but that doesn't make them any less aggravating. It's hard to write a good story that rhymes. Is there any reason why yours should? Can you instead try this as a lyrical PB? Story has to come first.

Good luck, V.
Title: Re: Are near-rhymes really forbidden?
Post by: Verla Kay on August 25, 2017, 07:38 AM
My very first published picture book in rhyme had one near rhyme in it. BUT... it was so "near" that no one, including myself, ever noticed it until a year or so after the book had been published! Make sure you aren't allowing near rhymes to take the place of true rhymes throughout your story, and you can possibly sneak by with one or maybe two near rhymes. It will depend on how smoothly it reads to people who have NEVER SEEN your story before, and also how "invisible" the near rhyme is in the story.

I've spent as many as ELEVEN years on one picture book, to get my rhymes perfect enough in the story to "work." It's became much easier for me, after I learned to use a rhyming dictionary for my stories. When I come up with a word that won't rhyme with anything that makes sense in my story, I skim through my rhyming dictionary, looking for two words that rhyme that DO fit my story line. Then I build my verse around those two words, instead of trying to just find a rhyming word that will fit a word I've already thought of. (Did that make sense?)

For example, when I was writing a verse in my Covered Wagons Bumpy Trails book that needed to describe the rough weather conditions pioneers experienced when they were traveling across the country, I found the rhyming words, rain and terrain. Then I built this verse around those two words:

Thunder, lightning,
Floods of rain.
Mucky, muddy,
Wet terrain.

You CAN write your story with perfect rhymes if you work hard enough at it. Sometimes, you just have to write something a little differently than you had originally imagined it. But you can do it!

Good luck!
Title: Re: Are near-rhymes really forbidden?
Post by: leonie-lueddeke on August 28, 2017, 09:38 AM
Thanks all for your feedback.  I'm still not clear on the why (near rhymes are considered aggravating). But this is one thing I'm not really hearing mixed reviews about. So I guess it's time to accept it and do my best to retrain my brain to work within the most promising parameters.

dewsanddamps, wow the critismsm out there is harsh indeed, but I suppose they are at least consistent for the most part. The critique groups I've joined thus far have been helpful for sure.  Between them and this board, I definitely know where my areas of opportunity lye. :) :)

Vijaya,, perhaps I should stop calling it a rhyming story and just start calling it lyrical... problem solved?? Haha.... Of course I know it is not so simple, but perhaps that is a direction I should consider.  Although it would surely seem a pity to axe the rhyme pattern altogether, which I would imagine I would have to do so it's not confusing.

Verla Key, I agree that finding the rhymes before constructing the verse can be a good tactic. I surprise myself often by what I am able to produce by doing this. Thanks for the example and for sharing with me a bit about your personal experience in developing your successful story. Congrats!

Title: Re: Are near-rhymes really forbidden?
Post by: dewsanddamps on August 28, 2017, 01:13 PM
Leonie, I think you're wise. And best of luck!
:goodluck  :clover :goodluck
Title: Re: Are near-rhymes really forbidden?
Post by: Tara on August 28, 2017, 03:21 PM
Another technique that might be helpful is setup and payoff, which is used in comedy songwriting. Your payoff is your strongest idea, and you place it at the end of the verse for maximum impact. You then work backwards from your payoff to find a rhyming setup that also works in the context of your story.  So, for example:

Have a near rhyme?
Better lay off (<-----setup)
Your ear expects
To hear a payoff (<-----payoff)

Using this technique can help build the momentum of the work, because the last line of each stanza contains your strongest idea and a satisfying rhyme.