Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dr Seuss Look Out?


Rhythm and rhyme. Once I learn how to spell them, I've learned that they are two things I should definitely consider when attempting to write my picture book. (Please note I say attempting! I'm still not comfortable saying I am writing a picture book as there is so much more I have to learn!)

I told a few friends I was working on a picture book and their immediate response was "Will it rhyme?"

No, no and no! Writing this story in 1000 words (the goal I set) is daunting enough. Trying to do it in rhyme - the stuff of nightmares! Fortunately for me, it's probably not a good idea anyway.

Many editors will not look at a rhyming submission. Some publishers guidelines even state No RHYMING BOOKS. Why is this when children love rhymes?

The main reason is probably that it is so hard to do well. Most attempts at rhyming books fail. You need to have a clear understanding of how rhyming works to pull it off. You need to study things like iambic, anapest and trochee (see what  I mean it's not easy - if you're interested, Ann Whitford tells all in her book Writing Picture Books.)

Ann Whitford also states that it is easy to get swept up in the fun of rhyming and forget what the darn story is all about. Your word length grows by leaps and bounds as you dream up the next rhyming word - often a word that doesn't even express the meaning you want. When I taught creative writing in elementary school, by far the best poems the kids wrote were the ones that didn't rhyme. That's where the kids could really focus on what they wanted to say.

I'm not rejecting rhyme entirely from my work-in-progress. I have a couple of places where I threw in a rhyme and I think it adds to the read aloud fun.  But I think I'll leave rhyme to Dr Seuss and pay much more attention to the rhythm of my story.

More about rhythm in my next blog!

Favourite Kids Book of the Week:

Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel

If you haven't already discovered this classic, go look for it now! Frog and Toad are such engaging delightful characters. Arnold Lobel is a master at achieving characterization with so few carefully chosen words.

There are three more books in the series and they are all gems:

Frog and Toad Together

Frog and Toad All Year

Days with Frog and Toad

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