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should you rhyme in Pbs?

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frogs

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I was wondering if I should rhyme in picture books.  They seem to help the story flow, but then I get stuck and the rhymes tend to mess everything up. 

I was wondering what you thought about rhyming in picture books.


 :frog: :frog:
#1 - June 11, 2011, 02:37 PM

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rhyming PBs are a harder sell because there are so many that are poorly executed that a lot of editors and agents avoid them altogether. That's not to say they don't sell, they still do, but you need to master the craft. I wouldn't write a PB in rhyme unless you have a very good understanding of meter (and a good reason for telling your story in rhyme instead of prose, the decision really shouldn't be arbitrary). If you don't, I'd strongly advise learning as much as you can about meter before tackling a rhyming PB. It might save you a lot of frustration. Anyway, that's my take on it. Others might have some different advice.

Some tips for writing rhyme that I've heard are don't invert your sentences just to make a rhyme (talking Yoda speak here :yoda ) and avoid near rhymes (words that almost rhyme, but don't, like "man" and "hand") and forced rhymes.

I'm definitely not a rhyming expert myself, but I love a well-written rhyming PB.

Good luck!!
#2 - June 11, 2011, 02:56 PM
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If you get stuck and the rhymes mess things up, I'd say you shouldn't do it.  Why isn't that obvious?
#3 - June 11, 2011, 03:29 PM

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Don't unless you can do it well.
#4 - June 11, 2011, 03:50 PM
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I agree with lillian. Everyone says "don't do it at all" -- but then I see significant number of rhyming PBs coming out each year. So someone is doing it, and someone is publishing it, and someone is buying it. If you can do it well, then do it. If you love it, then keep working at it until you get it right.

I have written some poetry and it can sometimes take many months to get the rhymes just right -- so that they say what I want to say and sound great. I know when I finally "have" it when the poem sounds so obvious that it couldn't be put any other way -- and yet I have agonized over every word.

Good luck!

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#5 - June 11, 2011, 05:15 PM
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frogs

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Thank you for your responses.  

I originally started out with rhymes and it gave structure to my story.   I thought children would relate better to them and it would make it flow better.  Making changes rhymes became difficult and seemed to get in the way.

I was wondering if a lot of other people use rhymes.

Your responses really clears things up.






 :frog: :frog: :frog:
#6 - June 14, 2011, 08:57 PM

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The last three books I've published have all been in rhyme.  (Before that, none of the books I published rhymed).  As Lil says, only write in rhyme if you can do it well and have a really good ear.  It's harder than you think to get the meter exact, and sometimes regional differences can cause problems. I sent my critique partner a ms. that had the word "whales" in it.  She lives in another part of the country and thought it should be one syllable, but I pronounce it with two.

Here's the best essay I know of on this topic.  Dori is the master.  And she keeps publishing rhyming PBs:

http://www.dorichaconas.com/Icing%20the%20Cake%20page.htm

If you're having a hard time, try writing your story in prose and see if it feels more natural to you.

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#7 - June 14, 2011, 10:19 PM
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Everyone has given great advice here. I'll just add one tiny thing --- you can always use a little rhyme within a story. It can be a refrain. Kids like repetition and also predictability.  Best of luck.
#8 - June 14, 2011, 10:44 PM
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If you enjoy writing in rhyme, then you could try doing an outline first, and only incorporate rhymes once you get the story right. That can help minimize doing any major revisions to your rhymes.
#9 - June 17, 2011, 07:52 AM
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Remember that rhyme can perfect itself with repeated readings. So I have one more tip: Line up loads of fresh readers, because you need to make sure your rhyme works the first time it's read.
Jean
#10 - June 17, 2011, 08:31 AM
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JR, that is SO true. You can make some pretty bad rhyming sound okay if you keep reading it with your own 'special' intonation and emphasis... but no one else will be able to!
#11 - June 17, 2011, 12:03 PM

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This is all fantastic advice!  Really helping me  :carrot

So, while I didn't ask the question, I will definitely take the advice.
#12 - June 19, 2011, 02:01 PM
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You might enjoy Margot Finke's (rhyming) advice in Rhyming Picture Books: For Those Who Must].

(Typo corrected, sorry. Now the link works).

Good luck with it!

#13 - June 19, 2011, 07:40 PM
« Last Edit: June 21, 2011, 03:19 PM by HaroldU »
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frogs

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thank you for the advice.  It really helps.  I am going to look at the website and look up Margot Finke's ryhming advice.  I am going to write it in prose to see if it works better than ryhming.

thank you,
frogs  :frog: :frog: :frog
#14 - June 19, 2011, 08:44 PM

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The last three books I've published have all been in rhyme.  (Before that, none of the books I published rhymed).  As Lil says, only write in rhyme if you can do it well and have a really good ear.  It's harder than you think to get the meter exact, and sometimes regional differences can cause problems. I sent my critique partner a ms. that had the word "whales" in it.  She lives in another part of the country and thought it should be one syllable, but I pronounce it with two.

Here's the best essay I know of on this topic.  Dori is the master.  And she keeps publishing rhyming PBs:

http://www.dorichaconas.com/Icing%20the%20Cake%20page.htm

If you're having a hard time, try writing your story in prose and see if it feels more natural to you.

Ellen Jackson
www.ellenjackson.net

This is a great link!  Thanks for posting it Ellen.

I went to an SCBWI conference recently and spoke to Jane Yolen about this very topic.  She said that there are always editors looking for rhyme, you just need to know what the editors are looking for before you send your MS.  She also said that she had three rejections the previous week and to not give up on it.  :)
 
#15 - June 24, 2011, 03:13 PM
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Wow. The fact that a fabulously talented and successful writer like Jane Yolen still gets rejections is a real reality check for those of us who might think that once the first book gets published, everything is easy!
#16 - June 24, 2011, 03:42 PM
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Wow. The fact that a fabulously talented and successful writer like Jane Yolen still gets rejections is a real reality check for those of us who might think that once the first book gets published, everything is easy!

:werd
#17 - June 24, 2011, 04:27 PM

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Wow. The fact that a fabulously talented and successful writer like Jane Yolen still gets rejections is a real reality check for those of us who might think that once the first book gets published, everything is easy!

Definitely!  Wow!
#18 - June 24, 2011, 07:50 PM
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I know, I thought it was strange too.  She was funny about it.  She said "For some reason my rejections seem to make everyone else feel good, but they don't make ME feel good!" :)
#19 - June 27, 2011, 06:44 PM
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I think it depends on both the writer and the particular book.
Sometimes you learn a lot by writing a story in both rhyme and prose.
For some of us, rhyme, rhythm, wordplay is part of why we write,
and when we try to write in prose, it comes out sounding flat and ordinary.
I wish I could write in prose but, for now anyway, I think I'm stuck with
rhyme.  Definitely a mixed blessing!
#20 - October 09, 2011, 10:51 AM

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I think it depends on both the writer and the particular book.
Sometimes you learn a lot by writing a story in both rhyme and prose.
For some of us, rhyme, rhythm, wordplay is part of why we write,
and when we try to write in prose, it comes out sounding flat and ordinary.
I wish I could write in prose but, for now anyway, I think I'm stuck with
rhyme.  Definitely a mixed blessing!
Jessica, this is me. 
I had a wonderful agent recently tell me that she would consider my story if I rewrote it in prose form.  It took me forever to do, it was critiqued at length by my writer's group and in the end, I just didn't like it at all.  Everyone in the group raved about the rhyming version of the story, but they agreed that the prose version wasn't their favorite.  And it obviously wasn't accepted by the wonderful agent.  To me it is like wandering around aimlessly when I write in prose.  I'm a rhymer, plain and simple. I know that about myself.  Someone out there has go to appreciate that and I'm willing to work hard to find that person. :)
#21 - October 09, 2011, 07:17 PM
@AKBWriter

Yep, sounds like you're a rhymer all right.
Did the agent and critiquers offer advice that you can apply toward revising the rhyming version to make it stronger?
#22 - October 10, 2011, 08:13 AM

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No not really, they stated that they rhyme was great.
And the story was great.
But that particular agent wanted rhyme in narrative rather than story format.
#23 - October 11, 2011, 05:30 AM
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Well, get busy subbing it somewhere else, girl!
And good luck!
#24 - October 11, 2011, 07:33 AM

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Thanks Jessica! :)
#25 - October 11, 2011, 12:36 PM
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My advice would be to read both versions, rhyming and prose, out loud (a lot) and you'll know.  You'll hear it, and you'll know.  Also, as someone else said above, it's very possible to embed rhyme in prose and to write a prose PB in a way that forces the rhythm, so you don't have to abandon all elements of poetry when you abandon the poetry itself.  (Spoken by a person who doesn't rhyme well at all.  Maybe someday...)
#26 - October 11, 2011, 01:42 PM
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I always thought rhyming books were so much fun as a child. The book I just illustrated has rhyming text and I enjoyed creating images that worked with the authors words. The one thing I personally feel can be a factor is what age group it is for. I will tell you one thing, I will never forget the words " I AM SAM - SAM I AM" and "DO YOU LIKE GREEN EGGS AND HAM?"
#27 - November 16, 2011, 02:10 PM

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Jeff, that's very true. But you aren't Theodore Geisel, are you, and most likely you don't have his skill with words, at least not yet. Editors are constantly saying "no rhyming PBs" because they see so many, so poorly done. And if they see another, they assume it's just as bad. Go down the rhyming road only if you must, and only if you are ready to make your rhyme sing...
#28 - November 16, 2011, 06:09 PM
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I'm working on a rhyming poem/story parody so this thread is very helpful.

I was wondering if I should rhyme in picture books.  They seem to help the story flow, but then I get stuck and the rhymes tend to mess everything up.
To me rhyming books shouldn't necessarily help the story flow, but just be the best way to have the story flow. That is, you rhyme because rhyming is the best way to tell the story. As how not all stories are suited to picture books, not all stories are suited to rhyme. (and vice versa)

Some tips for writing rhyme that I've heard are don't invert your sentences just to make a rhyme (talking Yoda speak here :yoda ) and avoid near rhymes (words that almost rhyme, but don't, like "man" and "hand") and forced rhymes.
I'd second this.

I'd say, more than writing lyrics or adult poetry, children's poetry really need to have strict adherence to iambic rhythm and perfect rhyme. It has to flow so naturally.

I have written some poetry and it can sometimes take many months to get the rhymes just right -- so that they say what I want to say and sound great. I know when I finally "have" it when the poem sounds so obvious that it couldn't be put any other way -- and yet I have agonized over every word.
Indeed. It's a huge amount of effort to make something sound effortless.

From what I've read of Dr Suess, he'd sometimes take a year to write a book and throw out almost all of his stuff in the process. I've read 95%, so that means he basically had a 19-to-1 "bad stuff" to "good stuff" ratio.

It's harder than you think to get the meter exact, and sometimes regional differences can cause problems. I sent my critique partner a ms. that had the word "whales" in it.  She lives in another part of the country and thought it should be one syllable, but I pronounce it with two.
 
Hmm... I've never thought of different dialects before.

I know some words have different pronunciations (ex. Cho-co-late or Choc-late) but this is something also to consider.

With different dialects, keep in mind that poetry doesn't translate well so it would be difficult to sell your idea to different language groups.

"Not everyone can write brilliant rhyme. And, in this market, it has to be brilliant, fresh, unique, imaginative, unexpected� No lazy or conventional rhyme will cut it."
Yeah, you don't want to fall into writing a poem of cliches so, as a poet, you need to watch out for things that come artificially: phrases; rhymes; images; metaphor. All these things are very predictable and don't usually add much to the story.

"There also has to be a reason for the rhyme. Too many times, I feel like a manuscript's rhyme is forced or dictates the story� that the author is making decisions based on which words would fit into their scheme, not based on which words would make the best possible storytelling sense."
Yeah, the ironic thing about rhyming stories is that story comes first and rhyme comes second.
#29 - June 27, 2014, 04:44 PM

Quote
I'd say, more than writing lyrics or adult poetry, children's poetry really need to have strict adherence to iambic rhythm and perfect rhyme.




 Hello, Robertvs!


As a rhyme nerd, I must point out that children's poetry (whether short poetry or pb-length) does not need to be strictly iambic. It is perfectly acceptable (and common) to write in trochaic or anapestic meter. But yes, iambic is very popular! And I agree that children's poetry tends to be more "regular" than adult poetry.


And for anyone interested in the technicalities, here are some good resources:


http://www.dorichaconas.com/Icing%20the%20Cake%20page.htm


http://instructional1.calstatela.edu/tsteele/TSpage5/meter.html
#30 - June 27, 2014, 07:14 PM
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