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Rhyme v. Lyrical

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New here! --As I work on my first PB, I've done LOTS of reading of the boards, author/agent blogs, and stalked lots of links people have shared here, but still am trying to better wrap my head around the difference between 'rhyme' and 'lyrical language.' Because of the taboo around rhyming PBs, I've seen people recommend calling a rhyming PB 'lyrical' in queries, but feel like there's a difference between rhyme and lyrical language. Might anyone have PBs that are great examples of 'lyrical' that I could check out?
#1 - March 09, 2017, 12:04 PM

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Hi,

It is near impossible to find anyone in the industry willing to sign a rhyming/lyrical PB writer, which is unfortunate since language plays such an important part in speech therapy. My daughter-in-law works with preschoolers as a speech pathologist and tells me that rhyming stories are quite helpful.

I received many rejections of both my completed manuscripts until they were finally accepted. It can get discouraging, but don't give up. Please feel free to check out my first book ("There's a Dog on the Dining Room Table").

Best wishes,
Elizabeth
#2 - March 10, 2017, 07:46 AM
http://desertgirlmedia.com
"There's a Dog on the Dining Room Table", Xist Pub, 2014
"If a Dog Could Wear a Hat", Xist Pub, coming soon

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Sara, I think your instincts are spot on. There is a big difference between rhyming and lyrical. Kate Messner's OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW is an excellent example of lyrical writing. I am sure there are many more.
#3 - March 10, 2017, 09:55 AM
Kirsten W. Larson

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WOOD, WIRE, WINGS (Calkins Creek, 2020)
http://kirsten-w-larson.com
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I think that, technically, lyrical can mean either rhyming, metered verse, or poetic prose. But when presenting work to an editor or agent, I would usually say "lyrical prose" or "rhyme" to be really clear about what it is.

Examples of lyrical, non-rhyming books might be-
If You Want to See a Whale or And Then It's Spring
Owl Moon
#4 - March 10, 2017, 10:06 AM

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Our own Diana did a great interview about lyrical PBs here: https://laurasassitales.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/examining-lyrical-picture-books-with-diana-murray/

I have a lyrical PB that's come close a couple of times but no cigar yet. Will keep trying. But my novelty book, Ten Easter Eggs, is in rhyme. I do think publishers want great rhyming stories because kids love them. It's the poorly executed rhyming books they don't want.

Happy reading and writing.
Vijaya
#5 - March 10, 2017, 10:40 AM
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 40 books and 60 magazine pieces

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Marla Frazee's All the World is in rhyme (though I would suggest it's also lyrical). All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan is lyrical and doesn't rhyme.
#6 - March 10, 2017, 11:18 AM
PRUDENCE, THE PART-TIME COW, A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK, IT'S YOUR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, BUSY BUS!, THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLED
Twitter @jodywrites4kids

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Those are good recommendations, I intend to check out. In addition, I would also suggest RED SINGS FROM TREE TOPS by Joyce Sidman. I have typed in 'lyrical picture books' in my library's portal website.

Lyrical languages also uses figurative language to set a tone or mood, sound devices, assonance, consonance, alliteration, and internal rhyme. Rhythm can paint a picture as well as words and lyrical language has a musical quality and uses words that evoke a specific effect.  :grin3
#7 - March 10, 2017, 01:08 PM
Wiggle-wiggle, Scratch-Scratch, Itch-Itch-Itch 2014
King of the Jungle 2015
Pink Riding Hood and the Warty stick Monster 2016
Song of the Whippoorwill

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I realize that conventional wisdom is that rhymers won't sell, but in fact rhyming books are published all the time.  There are very few editors who refuse to look at them at all.  Publishers dissuade people from submitting rhymers in marketing guides because the truth is, most people who think they can write in rhyme actually can't.  (Not referring specifically to anyone here, of course--I have no idea about anyone's writing here.)

As for the distinction between rhyme and lyrical language, they are two different tools in the writer's toolbox.  Lyrical language sounds mellifluous, lovely, musical, beautiful, imaginative, unique. Rhyme rhymes.  Rhyme may be a part of lyrical language, but is not necessarily part of it.  Lyrical language may be part of a rhyming manuscript, but not necessarily so.  A rhymer might be rough-and-tumble, crazy, word-play, not really lyrical at all, but still good.  A lyrical manuscript might not have one bit of rhyme in it, even as it uses assonance or consonance for different effects.
#8 - March 10, 2017, 01:36 PM
BUSY-EYED DAY (Beach Lane Books, 2018)
GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
VAMPIRINA AT THE BEACH (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
among others

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I realize that conventional wisdom is that rhymers won't sell, but in fact rhyming books are published all the time.  There are very few editors who refuse to look at them at all.  Publishers dissuade people from submitting rhymers in marketing guides because the truth is, most people who think they can write in rhyme actually can't.  (Not referring specifically to anyone here, of course--I have no idea about anyone's writing here.)

As for the distinction between rhyme and lyrical language, they are two different tools in the writer's toolbox.  Lyrical language sounds mellifluous, lovely, musical, beautiful, imaginative, unique. Rhyme rhymes.  Rhyme may be a part of lyrical language, but is not necessarily part of it.  Lyrical language may be part of a rhyming manuscript, but not necessarily so.  A rhymer might be rough-and-tumble, crazy, word-play, not really lyrical at all, but still good.  A lyrical manuscript might not have one bit of rhyme in it, even as it uses assonance or consonance for different effects.

 :exactly This. Well explained Anne.

And it's so true that editors actually do love rhyme. Well, there are the exceptions as always. I've heard of at least one editor that refuses to look at rhyme. But in the end, the story (just like prose) has to be great as well. A lot of times rhymers try to put the rhyme first, then make the story work around it. This doesn't work, and the editors can tell.
#9 - March 10, 2017, 07:31 PM
'Vehicle Dreams Series' Running Press Kids
Race Car Dreams 2016
Bulldozer Dreams 2017
Fire Truck Dreams 2018
The Sparrow and The Trees- Arbordale 2015

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I agree with Anne Marie and Shriscoe. There are so many ways to go wrong with rhyme that it gets painful to read it after a while and some agents may shut the door. That being said, rhyme, done well, is a great seller and agents and editors know it. It's just such a rare thing. I love Julia Donaldson's Room on the Broom and The Gruffalo.

And one of the big ways people go wrong with rhymes is with the rhythm. You need to know about about poetic feet and how to use them.

All that being said, if I had written a rhyming PB, I'd be up front about it. If you call your writing lyrical and it isn't, it won't work in your favor. It only takes a glance to know if the PB is intended to rhyme or not, and I don't see much advantage in trying to snooker something past an agent. :)

Best of luck.  :star2
#10 - March 11, 2017, 06:26 PM

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I find that most people who try to write in rhyme have perfect rhymes, but the rhythm will often be sloppy. We have an explanation of what makes rhyme (verse) so hard to write well in here: https://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=76959.0.

Anne Marie has given you a wonderful explanation of the differences and Pons is spot on about calling your manuscript what it is.
#11 - March 12, 2017, 06:24 PM

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All that being said, if I had written a rhyming PB, I'd be up front about it. If you call your writing lyrical and it isn't, it won't work in your favor. It only takes a glance to know if the PB is intended to rhyme or not, and I don't see much advantage in trying to snooker something past an agent. :)

This.
#12 - March 12, 2017, 09:14 PM
Twitter: @MelissaKoosmann

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