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Minimal Rhyme?

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Hello. I'm getting ready to query agents with my picture book manuscript. The manuscript is polished and I've gone through all the steps to make sure it was looked over by others' eyes and critiqued.

Most agents and publishers don't want rhyming pbs, with good reason. My book does NOT rhyme (mostly). There are 500 words and 24 pages. But there is one line of rhyme that repeats four times throughout the novel. I know the meter is good. It moves the story forward (literally). And at the end of the book a few words within the rhyming line change to reflect a change in the mc. The line was also used to emphasize a key plot point (not a moral). I considered pulling the rhyme but my readers and critique group felt it should stay.

Would one strong line of rhyme that repeats four times deter agents or even make them view my book as a rhyming book when nothing else in it rhymes?
#1 - January 08, 2018, 03:47 AM
« Last Edit: January 08, 2018, 03:51 AM by justin-colon »

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If it fits the story and flows well, it's just part of your story. I wouldn't mention the rhyme in your query, just query as you normally would.

BTW, I believe most agents say they don't want rhyme because it has to be done really, really well to work. Many writers, especially beginning writers, put rhyme above story and the story falls flat and poor rhyme and poor meter are no fun to read so they are trying to weed out the "bad rhymers" when they say they don't want rhyme. As you know when walking into any book store, publishers actually publish rhyme.

Good luck!
#2 - January 08, 2018, 05:33 AM

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If it fits the story and flows well, it's just part of your story. I wouldn't mention the rhyme in your query, just query as you normally would.

BTW, I believe most agents say they don't want rhyme because it has to be done really, really well to work. Many writers, especially beginning writers, put rhyme above story and the story falls flat and poor rhyme and poor meter are no fun to read so they are trying to weed out the "bad rhymers" when they say they don't want rhyme. As you know when walking into any book store, publishers actually publish rhyme.

Good luck!

I agree. Effective rhyming takes talent and skill. Some of my favorite pbs have rhyme. But even with my experience with rhyme and meter (I have Shakespeare training), I don't want to touch rhyme. Not mentioning the rhyme in the query (it's minimal). Thanks for the response (good to know this). 
#3 - January 08, 2018, 05:35 AM

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If I'm understanding you correctly, I think your one repeating, rhyming line could be very effective. It's hard to say for sure without seeing the ms, but I remember a PB from the first half of the 20th century, that may still be in print: Millions of Cats. It is in prose, but contains a repeating line that holds the book together and actually sells the story. The line is: Hundreds of cats and thousands of cats and millions and billions and trillions of cats.

I read this book many times as a child. I did not like the illustrations at all, but that one line kept me coming back, and, even after all these years I remember it.
#4 - January 08, 2018, 08:35 AM

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I say no problems, and no need to mention rhyme in the query or genre classification. Go for it, and best of luck!
#5 - January 08, 2018, 02:32 PM
My Australia - National Library of Australia (April 2018)
I've Got Eyes! - Amicus Ink (August 2018)

www.juliemurphybooks.com

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Ditto everything dk (and others) said! Good luck with it, Justin! Personally, I love a good rhyming refrain!
#6 - January 08, 2018, 03:08 PM

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You have a consensus. A single refrain in rhyme is not the same as a rhymed manuscript. Go for it.
#7 - January 08, 2018, 06:40 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

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Justin, this is off topic and I'm a mod, so I suppose I should delete myself.  :invisible But since you're getting ready to query I wanted to mention that Kate McKean (vice president at Howard Morhaim) recently opened to PBs--recently enough that your research may not have reflected that. Kate's my agent and she's wonderful--one more possibility for you.

Best of luck!  :goodluck
#8 - January 08, 2018, 07:56 PM
Learning to Swear in America (Bloomsbury, July 2016)
What Goes Up (Bloomsbury, 2017)
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If I'm understanding you correctly, I think your one repeating, rhyming line could be very effective. It's hard to say for sure without seeing the ms, but I remember a PB from the first half of the 20th century, that may still be in print: Millions of Cats. It is in prose, but contains a repeating line that holds the book together and actually sells the story. The line is: Hundreds of cats and thousands of cats and millions and billions and trillions of cats.

That's a great example!! A couple more rhyming refrains in prose are

1) "Fe, fi, fo, fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman!" from Jack and the Beanstalk and

2) "Run, run, as fast as you can. You can't catch me - I'm the Gingerbread Man!" from The Gingerbread Man.

I think you're safe, Justin - golden, even!!

Happy querying!!
#9 - January 09, 2018, 05:19 AM

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