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Question about wording

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Hope someone can help...

In PBs it is okay to have a word repeat in the same sentence or shortly thereafter (say in the very next sentence). Here's a quick example I just thought up to try to show what I mean:

The little house sat very still
On the little crest behind the hill
It waited and watched, it held its breath
Then shuddered a little; it had nothing left

Is it better not to have a word repeat so close together like that?

#1 - April 30, 2012, 12:41 PM
« Last Edit: April 30, 2012, 01:01 PM by Hannah B. »

I think it's fine to repeat words, especially since it can help young children who are learning sight words.

Anyway, there are few rules, so write it any way that makes you happy.

This is off the topic, but was "shuttered" spelled that way on purpose (like a house has shutters?) or did you mean "shuddered"?
#2 - April 30, 2012, 12:44 PM

 :oops I meant shuddered...lol...not paying attention was I?

Thank you Jaina  :)
#3 - April 30, 2012, 01:03 PM

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It is fine to repeat words, but you might also be asked to change it so it's not repeated so close together. A lot depends on the specific story/rhythm/repeat and how well it works and serves the story. If it works, you can do anything. If you can come up with a different/better word or way to phrase it, why not try it and see if it's better for the story? If not, change it back.
#4 - April 30, 2012, 01:10 PM
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Thank you very much Ani Louise. I have tried that several times (substituting different words) and no other word seems to maintain the flow like the original word - so it looks like it stays (at least until I can find a better fit)  :)

#5 - April 30, 2012, 05:34 PM

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This is my humble, probably wrong opinion: The first two don't bother me repetition-wise, but I think the lines scan better without the second little. I do think the additional little in the fourth line becomes too repetitive.

So fun to read bits of people's stories! It makes you want more! Keep going! :bicycle
#6 - May 01, 2012, 06:00 PM
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Thanks so much eecoburn. I hadn't even noticed that I had little again in the fourth line. Another  :oops  :)

I agree that it does help to read snippets from others work....maybe it also helps to know that others are working working working to get those words to do what you want them to do  :bangbreak  :)

And thanks so much for the encouragement  :writing3
#7 - May 02, 2012, 09:12 AM
« Last Edit: May 02, 2012, 09:15 AM by Hannah B. »

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Our dear Verla has said that sometimes it takes her a year to get just the right words for her cryptic rhyming PBs, which are all sparse texts.

I don't write rhymers (with a couple exceptions) but I struggle to find just the right word, too. I use a lot of play on words and twist the language to my own devices *muah ha ha ha  :skull* so sometimes finding the right word is difficult!

I don't mind the repetition of little at all in the first two lines (the fourth is a stretch as has been pointed out), but I think that type of pattern would need to be repeated in other verses (not necessarily with the word little again, just keeping the structure consistent) so that it comes across as purposeful and not just an isolated accident.
#8 - May 02, 2012, 09:20 AM
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This is my humble, probably wrong opinion: The first two don't bother me repetition-wise, but I think the lines scan better without the second little. I do think the additional little in the fourth line becomes too repetitive.

So fun to read bits of people's stories! It makes you want more! Keep going! :bicycle

I agree. I actually think it scans better without the 2nd or 3rd "little" and a couple of other changes like this:

The little house sat very still
On the crest behind the hill
It waited, watched and held its breath
Then shuddered; it had nothing left
#9 - May 02, 2012, 03:20 PM
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Thanks so much Artemesia for the great advice. When you say
Quote
but I think that type of pattern would need to be repeated in other verses (not necessarily with the word little again, just keeping the structure consistent) so that it comes across as purposeful and not just an isolated accident.
Quote


Do you mean the meter/cadence/rhythm of the lines? Or do you mean it needs to be a refrain/purposeful repetition? I'm learning...hang in there with me  :oncomputer  :)

JR...At first I didn't catch the pattern/rhythm but then after re-reading it, I agree, the changes you made make it sound better...thank you  :inbox:. The impact is more solid, stronger.

#10 - May 02, 2012, 09:55 PM
« Last Edit: May 02, 2012, 09:57 PM by Hannah B. »

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I think both, Hannah. You'd want the structure of the meter to be the same as well as using a repetitive word. It would kind of act like a motif. A single word repeated in just one verse could appear as an oversight, but having a different word repeated in each verse could make for an interesting pattern. Especially if you found words that maybe had multiple uses, so the same word used different ways. Just something to try and have fun with! I love playing with language!
#11 - May 03, 2012, 08:13 PM
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So much great advice in this thread!

As some above have pointed out, reading many picture books is helpful. Especially current picture books rather than older books; I've noticed older books tend to be more wordy.

I've heard different advice re: including art notes. Some editors don't mind art notes (if they are necessary) from writers. Others would rather have NO art notes.

I've illustrated one book for Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers (I'M BORED, written by Michael Ian Black) and am writing & illustrating a book for them. Also have a contract to illustrate another, though the project has not yet been chosen.

What I loved about the first project, which was my very first illustration project -- that I was given quite a bit of freedom in choosing how to illustrate the author's text.

I was surprised how much freedom, in fact -- up to then, I was mainly a writer, and had assumed that if I ever wrote a picture book mss that I would need to put in lots of art notes.

BUT as an illustrator, I appreciated NOT having lots of art notes -- it made the project more of a collaborative effort rather than me just illustrating to spec. I think there's a tendency of writers (I speak from experience since I used to think like this, too) to believe they need to maintain control over exactly how their picture book text is portrayed in illustration, else their story is going to get changed in bad ways.

Now, however, I have a much greater appreciation of the joy in illustrating a project in which there is implicit trust in the illustrator's abilities and creative input, and a true collaborative effort. I look at the final version of I'M BORED (I've seen the proofs; the final book comes out in September) and I see the joint effort of a creative team rather than just the author: author, illustrator, editor and art director. If anyone's curious, I'm posting about the whole process at http://debbieohi.com/boredbook.

Having said that, however, I'm sure different publishers and editors and art directors work differently.

Thanks for this fascinating thread! I'm learning lots. :-)

Debbie
#12 - May 13, 2012, 06:50 PM
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Thank you Artemesia for your advice. I will definitely try to keep that in mind when writing.  :writing3

Yes, Debbie reading lots of picture books really helps  :)
#13 - May 28, 2012, 09:24 PM

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