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A Rhyme Primer

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Why do so many editors ask us not to send rhyme?

Here's a link to a sticky thread already on these boards which explains the many ways rhyme is done poorly.
https://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=14603.0

Rhyme is harder to edit than prose.  If a word in a prose passage is a little off, the editor suggests another word. If a word is off in a metered passage, often the whole line or stanza needs to be replaced.

Consider the near rhyme in the thread above. To fix it, the editor would need to suggest another phrase, like this:     
The rain comes gently falling down
Misting o'er the lonely town.
 
But if the poem isn't about a town, another complete line or verse could be necessary. The whole story may have to be revised so the action in the offending stanza still belongs within the larger story. After all, in picture books, story comes first.
 
How can we learn to write perfect meter and rhymes?

Here are some links that may help.

Tutorials:

www.dorichaconas.com
http://www.writingrhymeandmeter.com/
http://www.creative-writing-now.com/poetry-meter.html
http://www.underdown.org/mf-rhyming-picture-books.htm
http://www.kidlit411.com/2015/04/Free-Rhyme-Meter-Clinic-Renee-LaTulippe.html
Here's a Pro Talk session from our own Verla Kay's site: http://www.verlakay.com/protalk11.html
http://nerdychickswrite.com/2015/08/11/new-draft-week-4-tues-lori-degman-plot-shmot-right-not-quite-and-giveaway/comment-page-1/#comment-10686
http://rhymeweaver.com/


Recognizing Rhythm:
http://prosody.lib.virginia.edu/ - this site also contains a glossary of poetry terms.
http://learn.lexiconic.net/meter.html
http://www.poetry4kids.com/blog/news/rhythm-in-poetry-the-basics/

Rhyming Dictionary:

http://www.rhymezone.com/
There are many other such dictionaries online. Try them to see which you like best.

General Poetry Instruction:
http://faculty.chemeketa.edu/jrupert3/eng106/resource/poetelem.htm - elements of poetry.

https://www.howmanysyllables.com/

Sample Books with Great Meter and Rhymes (plus some reminders of what's been said above):
http://www.carriecharleybrown.com/reforemo/reforemo-day-4-sudipta-bardhan-quallen-rocks-rhyme
This list contains a book where the author has broken with meter on purpose. Change your meter on purpose and for a story reason.

Why are slant or imperfect rhymes and unnatural phrasing acceptable in work for adults?

Adults understand poetic license. They know the conventions of language well enough to recognize when and why an author may have chosen to break them. A young child is still learning what it means to rhyme and how the language works. Therefore, breaking with convention is more likely to confuse the reader and pull him or her out of your story. Some adult book buyers may also see these as setting a poor example for the young reader.

 
To summarize, poetry for children needs to use natural language with perfect rhythm and rhymes while maintaining all the elements of good writing found in prose for children. It's a tall order, but when done well it will sell.

Books for further learning:
POEM MAKING by Myra Cohn Livingston
ALL THE FUN'S IN HOW YOU SAY A THING

 
#1 - June 12, 2015, 09:22 PM
« Last Edit: November 13, 2016, 06:09 PM by Debbie Vilardi »

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Thanks Debbie for the great links! I did find one (2nd one under Rhyming Rhythm) that didn't work. Not sure if it's because I'm using my phone not computer? Good stuff!!
#2 - June 13, 2015, 04:20 AM

Thanks for gathering these great resources, Debbie!

I just want to add that, while children's poetry does tend to be a lot more regular than adult poetry, it is possible to use near rhymes occasionally. For example, the highly successful ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER (a rhyming pb) has a few near rhymes, as I recall. And there are many other examples. DINNER AT THE PANDA PALACE also comes to mind. That being said, the work needs to be solid (as in the above examples) and you don't want it to seem like you're using near rhymes out of laziness.

I also want to note, for those starting out, that it's important not to rely on counting syllables. The syllable count can vary without ruining the meter.

I agree that Dori's "Icing the Cake" is an excellent place to start learning about writing in rhyme.

And I love that Timothy Steele article and his whole book, "All the Fun's in How You Say a Thing". He goes into great technical detail. (Here is the new link, by the way: http://learn.lexiconic.net/meter.html)
#3 - June 13, 2015, 06:10 AM
NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, GRIMELDA series,
CITY SHAPES, DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS, ONE SNOWY DAY, PIZZA PIG, and more...
http://www.dianamurray.com

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Dori's site has been so helpful to me. I also wanted to add Verla's site. Her Rhyming Right is an excellent resource. Not sure if the link is already on these boards but here it is
http://www.verlakay.com/On_This_Site/Writers_Artists/.  There is a link to transcripts from workshops and one is from her Rhyming Right workshop.
#4 - June 13, 2015, 07:57 AM
« Last Edit: June 13, 2015, 08:16 AM by murphy44 »

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That's a great resource, Debbie!

And Diana you are so right on counting the syllables. So many people get hung up on that. I also agree on the near rhymes .. they should be spare .. but if the story is really strong, I think they go by un-noticed.
#5 - June 13, 2015, 09:00 AM
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

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Rhythm matters way more than rhyme. If you have one or two slant rhymes, but the read is beautifully smooth, you may get away with them. Llama Llama Red Pajama has a slant rhyme or two also if I recall. Using them is a risk though. Many editors are leery of taking a chance on a new author, so make sure you are in control of the writing and not being lazy about those rhymes.

Here's the link to the actual discussion from Verla's site: http://www.verlakay.com/protalk11.html
#6 - June 13, 2015, 04:24 PM
« Last Edit: June 13, 2015, 04:28 PM by Debbie Vilardi »

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Can somebody please provide an example of how " The syllable count can vary without ruining the meter" as  DianaM mentioned? My internet searching on this subject is not providing anything useful... thanks!!
#7 - August 24, 2017, 08:56 PM

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Leonie, the most crucial thing with meter is the stressed syllable. I took a course called The Lyrical Language Lab (the best course I have ever taken) and her motto was "Don't Mess with the Stress." So at times, you can actually drop an unstressed syllable, especially in the beginning or end of a line as long as you don't drop the stressed syllable or stress the wrong syllable in the word. Those are "Rhyme Crimes."

I'll see if I can find examples of some lines that have a different syllable count but don't mess up the meter and post later today.

Just in case you are interested, here is a link for The Lyrical Language Lab.
http://www.reneelatulippe.com/writing-courses/

Her classes fill up fast and cost $, but I found it worth every cent. The links given earlier in this thread are fantastic, though, and free. :-)
#8 - August 25, 2017, 08:11 AM

www.tammisauer.com
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What a wonderful list of resources!

I've only written one rhymer, MARY HAD A LITTLE GLAM. Rhymeweaver. com was my go to site.
#9 - August 25, 2017, 10:46 AM
COMING: Wordy Birdy*Making a Friend*But the Bear Came Back*Knock,Knock*The Farm that Mac Built*Go Fish!*Quiet Wyatt & MORE

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Leonie, I just sent you a private message with a first page from a rhyming book called "Surfer Chick." I wasn't sure if I could post it here since I used three stanzas straight from the book, but you'll see where one line has one less syllable but it works because the stresses are the same in the repeating pattern. Let me know if you didn't get the message!
#10 - August 25, 2017, 03:45 PM

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dkshumaker, I was unable to reply to you directly using pm, but thank you so much for sending me that example! I am beginning to understand now how meter is more versatile than I once thought. And the way you were able to break it down for me is exactly what I needed to see. Very helpful! And thank you for the additional resources, dkshumaker and Tammi!
#11 - August 26, 2017, 12:26 PM
« Last Edit: August 26, 2017, 12:30 PM by leonie-lueddeke »

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Wow! Thanks, Debbie!
#12 - November 10, 2017, 08:20 AM
Ten Sheep to Sleep - Now on Amazon

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