Thursday, October 4, 2007

Writing in Rhyme: Part I

I love writing in rhyme. It’s a fun, challenging way to convey a story. And kids love it! There’s nothing like reading a well-written rhyming book to a young child. You can literally see the rhythm in their bodies!

I thought I’d write a bit about how to revise your rhyming work, but then it struck me that long before you get to the point of self-editing, you have to consider whether to rhyme or not.

A few years back, I took an online course from Anastasia Suen, on Poetry. One of the things she suggested that was that before you start writing your story in verse (rhyme), write it in prose. In other words, write the story first. Think about rhyme later.

Once you’ve written your story and determined if it’s a story worth telling, that’s when you have to take a hard look at whether you should rewrite it in verse. There is more to consider than just whether you like writing in rhyme. Consider the following:

* Is your story one that would benefit from a rhythmical pattern, such as a bedtime story like Goodnight Moon?
* Is there a natural pattern that emerges from the story’s events, such a cumulative story like The Napping House?
* Is there a natural cadence to your story that could be moved along with rhyme, such as Chicka-Chicka Boom-Boom?
* Can rhyming add another layer to your story in a natural, organic way (not feeling out of place or forced), like Sailor Moo, Cow at Sea?
* If you story has any type of pattern in it (seasons, alphabet, counting, music) then it could likely benefit from rhyme.

Then comes the hard part. Despite what the masses think, writing in rhyme is NOT easy. I’ll say it again because I cannot say it enough. WRITING IN RHYME IS NOT EASY. It's far more than making your end lines rhyme. It takes hard work, tedious concentration and an ear for sound, plus lots of feedback. However, it can be done (just look at all the new rhyming stories on the children’s bookshelves).

In a few days, I’ll post more on how to self-edit your rhyming work.

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