June 26, 2009

Living a Life of Rhyme....


Rhyming picture books are more fun to read aloud - right? Talk to any teacher, librarian or parent and they will tell you the same. Kids also agree. But what about writing in rhyme? My critique group is under strict instructions to stop me if I attempt another rhyming manuscript. They have been given full permission to throw themselves in front of me screaming, "Don't do it, don't do it!" And yet, I've done it again - and they didn't stop me. (Hello ladies - you know who you are) No one loves their rhyming books more than me. However, I practically danced with joy when revising my prose manuscript. Change that scene? Sure, no problem! Delete an entire sentence? Okay, done! Why the angst about writing in verse? The popular notion (among people who have never actually published a children's book) is that rhyme is easy. It is - if you don't mind agonizing for hours (days? weeks?) over one word AND you already have an actual story behind the rhyme. A stand-alone story, complete with a story arc and conflict. Some sage advice from the blog of children's author Jane Yolen - "The trick of writing a picture book- so far as there is a trick- is to be a prose writer with a poet's sensibility. Or a poet who is comfortable with the story. " Wow, this is a wonderful summation of what editors/agents are telling us at workshops. Yes, reading in rhyme is fun. Yes, everyone thinks they can do it. Yes, you must have a true story behind the rhyme. Yes, rhyme is often forced. Yes, you may have a great story, but the editor can't see beyond the poor rhyme and meter. Your manscript may be terrific without the rhyme. Why not give that a try also? You may save yourself countless hours of unnecessary work. And when it's revision time? A heck of a lot easier. Think carefully before embarking on a life of rhyme.

1 comment:

cabadov said...

I never written anything in rhyme, mainly because it just doesn't seem to come naturally to me. I agree, I think people think writing in rhyme (and writing children's books in general) is easy and can be churned out over night. I have been meaning to try writing this way, just to get me thinking outside the box, outside of my normal writing pattern, and see what happens.