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Genres & Age Categories => Picture Books (PB) => Topic started by: laura-wright on May 20, 2018, 01:17 PM

Title: Accentual verse or accentual syllabic verse in rhyming PB's?
Post by: laura-wright on May 20, 2018, 01:17 PM
Hi! I just signed up as a member of the scbwi today! This looks like a great group. I was hoping to get some advice/ opinions: Do picture books tend to be in accentual syllabic verse or accentual verse?

Many nursery rhymes seem to be in accentual verse but the famed Dr. Seuss and others are accentual syllabic. What is the current industry standard? I would like to write in accentual verse, but would love feedback! Thank you for any help!
Title: Re: Accentual verse or accentual syllabic verse in rhyming PB's?
Post by: dkshumaker on May 20, 2018, 05:17 PM
Hi Laura,

Welcome to the blueboards! I think you'll find it a very helpful place to be.

I do write in rhyme at times and have taken some classes that have focused on rhyme so I am familiar with terms like meter,  iamb, dactyl, etc. but am embarrassed to say that I don't know the terms you are talking about, LOL! So my answer is, I have no idea.

I don't think there is a "standard." And when you are studying picture books, check out current ones published in the last few years. Dr. Seuss is a classic but there are so many great rhyming PBs published recently that are worthy of studying. . . . the bottom line is write the story the way it needs to be told. A consistent meter is important. We have some great resources for writing in rhyme in these boards - I recommend checking them out!

https://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=76959.0
https://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=14603.0

Good luck!
Title: Re: Accentual verse or accentual syllabic verse in rhyming PB's?
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on May 20, 2018, 07:23 PM
Actually picture books don't tend to be in rhyme at all. There are rhyming books, but they aren't the standard. Please see the links in the above post.
Title: Re: Accentual verse or accentual syllabic verse in rhyming PB's?
Post by: Anne Marie on May 21, 2018, 06:40 AM
This is an interesting question.  Off the top of my head, I'd say accentual syllabic might be slightly more prevalent, but both are done, and I could be wrong about accentual syllabic being more common.  Either way, the meter should seem seamless, so that an average reader will pick it up and find the stresses effortlessly manageable.

For brilliant contemporary rhymers, read Julia Donaldson and Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, among others.

Title: Re: Accentual verse or accentual syllabic verse in rhyming PB's?
Post by: CarrieLee on May 21, 2018, 09:59 AM
Well, I'll chime in since you hit my rhyming wheelhouse. (grin) 
 
I have four picture books out, the last one coming out next spring,  two fiction, two non fiction, all traditionally published, and all four are in rhyme.

I'd say overwhelmingly in both the PB and magazine market  if a manuscript rhymes, editors want  accentual syllabic verse.  They do overlook a few scansion hops once an author is established and occasionally when it serves the story. But early on writers tend to be held to a much stricter rule. 

The general feel in my experience   (around 12 editors total  in trade book and magazine houses like carus/highlights) has been  either make your  rhyme in  flawless anapestic tetrameter, or iambic pentameter (or whatever your favorite meter is)   or simply don't write in rhyme at all. 

 They would rather see a story in prose or  lyrical free verse than  accentual verse,  which can be viewed as "improperly" stressed syllables done only to "make a rhyme work"  or worse simply labeled as uncorrected errors on the writer's part.  Eeek.

But I also need to say, from my writer's heart, that if you have a unique rhyme style that works for you and your story -- don't squash it just to fit the current zeitgeist/rules.  Maybe it's the piece some editor will fall in love with.  Brave, talented rule breakers can sometimes start wonderful new publishing trends

Hope the insight is useful.   



Title: Re: Accentual verse or accentual syllabic verse in rhyming PB's?
Post by: laura-wright on May 22, 2018, 04:04 PM
Thank you for all the helpful responses and resources! Carrie I loved the part about your "writers heart," and it seems my  "writers heart" may put me at the bottom of the slush pile :) Good to know, either way!
Congrats on your many books!
Title: Re: Accentual verse or accentual syllabic verse in rhyming PB's?
Post by: shakira-shute on July 03, 2018, 07:18 AM
Great insight, Carrie! Thank you! I love writing in rhyme and your comments have given me confidence to follow my heart and not let the industry get me down too much!! Congrats on your successes! Laura, looks like we're both in the same boat! I tend to write in anapaestic tetrameter (or at least have done so far). It seems to fit nicely with the stories I'm telling. Good luck with your writing!
Title: Re: Accentual verse or accentual syllabic verse in rhyming PB's?
Post by: CarrieLee on July 03, 2018, 07:36 AM
We rhymers have to stick together.   :grouphug2

And BTW two of my books are in anapestic tetrameter  -- one of my fav storytelling rhythms.