Being consistent with your rhythm can be tricky and it has a lot to with the emphasis we put on syllables in words and phrases — it is these strong and weak syllables which provide the rhythm. When we speak nat urally, we put more emph asis on some syll ables than we do on oth ers. See how I have made the stronger syllables bold? For example, if you put stress on the last part of the word emph asis , it would sound weird and awkward.
So you need to try to write the lines of your rhyming story so all the words can be read in a natural, but rhythmic way. Have you written a brilliant rhyming story? I find a very good way to find out is to ask someone to read your work aloud to you. Do they stumble on any lines?
Do they pause in parts? These clues will let you know if you have some bits and pieces that need fixing. Perhaps you need to add a syllable to fix your rhythm, or maybe you need to take one away. Seaside Rescue and you can buy it from the Guardian bookshop. You must NOT wander in the gloom Of that spooky, dingy room! Topics Children's books Writing tips for kids from children's authors.
Only rhyme if you're extraordinarily good at it. The best rhyming picture books are some of the very best picture books, and children love them - but most of the worst picture books are rhyming, too. And, as Linda says, publishers are VERY wary - it makes texts much more difficult to sell, because foreign rights deals are less likely, because people think it's hard to translate ryhme well.
It can actually be extremely freeing to drop the rhyme and write your story in prose. With 'The Kite Princess', I always knew it was going to be a rhyming story but I wrote out the story in rough in prose first so I knew it would be substantial enough a story. If the story is strong enough then the translation can work really well in prose Juliet has been an inspiration to many people. As a member of the 12x12 group, alot of us are pre-published writers and illustrators.
Juliet gives us hope and belief that we're not crazy and that if we stick with it, we can make it. Thanks for the fabulous advice and for being a shining example to the rest of us.
Why Do Editors Say Not to Write in Rhyme?
What a lovely comment. And hope the tips help. About a quarter are likely to be in rhyme, I think. Good luck with your stories, Helga. Lest the rabbit in a habit become the proverbial funny bunny, or the fair hare Story first - always. Thank you for sharing all your thoughtful tips and book recommendations. Can we have a post on rhyming YA fiction next?
Anyone in a crit group should read this to allow for better critting of rhyming texts. And I like your nun! There is some older stuff in rhyme eg Malorie Blackman's Cloudbusting. It would be fun Nice to see another Scoobie doing so well, I believe that Kite Princess will be your second book in print?
And you have Imelda Staunton reading your story on the CD! It took a lot of self control to restrict myself to one exclamation mark in this comment. The Kite Princess will be my third book as I've got an early reader coming out in May, too. I am also having to restrict myself to one exclamation mark about Imelda Staunton -it's very exciting!
I don't think you should restrict yourself at all, it's brilliant news!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now I'm going to have to do another go around with my nun rabbit ms I'm going to share it on my FB Page. Perhaps I'm wrong and there's a book all about nun rabits just waiting to be written. Go on, challenge yourself. Thanks for sharing it, Julie. Hi Juliet, I have just had my first book published. It is a collection of poems for children.
I have written quite a few stories all in rhyme and had some critique from a publisher who really liked one of my stories and suggested I re-write not in rhyme. I am finding this really hard what are your suggestions? Hi Fiona, Thanks for your message. Have you read lots of picture books?
It's an excellent way to get a really good feel for what works. And it's worth checking out the recent ones so you could go into a bookshop and read through lots of them -very carefully of course! And if you buy some that you think are great, or get some really good ones out of the library, try typing them out and looking at them as manuscripts so you can see where the page turns happen and the shape of the story.
That can really help give you a feel for it. I would really recommend joining SCBWI and there are all sorts of events where you can learn from other authors and editors and agents. We've got critique groups which can be extremely valuable in helping you make your story the very best it can be. My latest post is all about feedback on your writing, which might help click on my name on the right hand side of the blog and it'll come up.
And don't worry about your story not coming out perfect first time round: Good luck and do try www. Thank you Juliet, this is a wonderful post. In the past I have written most of my stories in rhyme, and I have a couple that I have know for a while I need to rewrite in prose. I personally love rhyming books, but it is extremely difficult to get a rhythm and flow going thar EVEYONE can read without stumbling on at least a line or two.
Maybe it will never be ready Thanks again for the advice adn wisdom. God Bless, Angie Breault. Thanks for your comment, Angie. Have you ever tried joining a critique group? I'm not sure where you're writing from but there are lots of SCBWI critique groups all around the world, and there are lots of online ones, too.
Poetry and Nursery Rhymes | The Wellington Children's Bookshop
Sometimes you can just get too close to something and it's hard to see where to go with it whereas a fresh pair of eyes can come up with something really useful I loved the post. I've been fooling around with a middle grade novel this past year, but had an idea for a children's rhyming book, and just completed it. I teach kindergarten, so I have read lots of good and bad rhyming books. I think I'm ready to publish, but am having a hard time finding the guidelines for formatting a picture book.
I've found one site that said to put a header at the top with your contact information and then double space the rest, but is this true for a rhyming book as well? Thanks for all the clever tips. Hi Patricia, Are you writing from the States? Guidelines do change a bit between countries. For example, in the UK, we usually put in page breaks where we think they should go whereas many people in the States don't. But in terms of double spacing, I think that's pretty standard wherever you are.
Check on individual publishers' sites in case they ask but otherwise, try it as you've said and really good luck! Thanks, this was helpful! A lot of my meter was off, but I kinda kept telling myself that they'll learn to read it haha I am finally sitting down to tackle those lines with irritating rhythm. So glad it was helpful. Good luck with those lines! All the best, Clare. I cannot agree enough about this post. Every aspect you've touched upon nails it for me.
In fact, I'm writing an article at the moment about what makes a winning picture book. If you don't mind I'd like to link back to your blog - it'll me re-hashing the very ground you've already paved. And you're very welcome to link back to the blog. Do send me the link to your article when you post it up. Hi Juliet, I love your tips. I've recently written a picture book series which I've sent a few off to publishers. I found it really easy to write them which probably means they are ridiculously bad.
I've since read a whole bunch or "dont's" online. My initial thought was "if my friends are being completely honest then there's no way that these won't get published! It does seem it was too easy to actually be good. I didn't write the first one with an aim to be published just as a joke baby shower present so my gift trumped my friend's dramatic reading.
They begged me to send it off for publishing, so I did. Anyway, my question to you is Would it be completely out of the question for me to send it to you for your thoughts? There's no point me carrying on the series if they are utter rubbish: Hi Sarah, Thanks for your message. I'm glad you like the tips! Don't assume that what you've written must be bad if you did it quickly.
It will almost certainly need to be edited, but it may be a very good start the vast majority of my time writing picture books is taken up with the editing. Different kinds of writing come easier or harder to different people. I have friends who find it harder to write in prose than in rhyme, and others who wouldn't never even attempt rhyme. I would strongly recommend that before you send it to any other publishers or elsewhere that you get some feedback from people who aren't your friends, and who know about picture books.
This will help you with your editing of the stories. Whoever you choose to get feedback from, you should get some. I've written a Picture Book Den post on feedback that might be helpful: Really good luck with your project.
Rhyming picture books
I especially liked My jaw dropped when I thought you were serious. I laughed when I discovered it was tongue-in-cheek. It's true, though, that you can slightly convince yourself that something works even though the meter's off because you've read it so many times yourself you can MAKE it sort of work by slowing down and speeding up and saying things in an odd way Juliet this is a great post with very good advice.
I work in children's publishing, and we get so much rubbish sent to us I hate to call it that, because it represents people's hard work, but really - sometimes they'd have done better to work hard at something else! I particularly like the advice on copying better writers' work out to learn about structure and form.
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I am a painter, and that's exactly the same as learning about great art by copying it yourself. You learn ten times more than just by looking at it, and I am sure writing a piece down teaches you more about how it works than just reading it. Great post, and I'll look out for more. I have a blog myself at www.
Thanks for your comment, Richard. I'd never made the connection with illustrators before but of course -that's what they do, too. September 18, at 7: Writing for Kids While Raising Them.
August 27, at Hello Tara, my 1st published book was in rhyme, for younf readers, published in the U. It wasnt dumbed down , in fact i made a point of using above average verbage and language. Do you know if there are certain publishers that work in the genre. I am an award winning poet, freelance editorialist, musician from Sydney, Australia. My first book is titled The Twontle, and was very well recieved. You can find it easiliy. February 22, at 6: March 5, at 7: I work on my meter, and keep moving things around and one day, It will all work out!! November 17, at You are commenting using your WordPress.
You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Ben Eastaugh and Chris Sternal-Johnson. Tales should unfold organically, not be forced into the confines of the rhyme. Common rhyme schemes can be stale.
Editors see them again and again. If your reader can guess the word at the end of the line before they get there, your rhyme scheme may be too common. Editors want to read rhyme that surprises them. Forced rhyme or near-rhyme can ruin a story. Once in a while this is acceptable, but more than a few times in a manuscript and it distracts. The meter or beat must be spot-on. Some good rhyming books offer a break in the rhyme scheme for variety—not unlike a bridge in a song.
Rhyming books are difficult to translate into other languages. So what is successful rhyme? Some of the best lines: Remember that in picture books the art tells half the tale, and these lines create an expansive view of our world click on image for larger version … This is my country, with highlands and plains, with farmlands and cities and highways and trains… Notice how there is a break in the rhyme scheme at the end of the stanza—and that line is set apart in the illustration for emphasis. Kids and adults alike will appreciate the humor: What are some of your favorite rhyming picture books?
Please share in the comments! As a children's book author and mother of two, I'm pushing a stroller along the path to publication. I collect shiny doodads on the journey and share them here. You've found a kidlit treasure box. Join 10, other followers. Twitter Updates And RachelBros! Although this tweet is not. All told, picture books are awesome teaching tools! Anything by Julia Donaldson i. The Gruffalo And, of course, Dr Seuss! Two very different things. Oh, come on, Boni! You know how much I love your book! How could I NOT mention it?