Writing Rhyming Stories

After reading a number of blogs I have come to the conclusion that writing a rhyming picture book is quite difficult to perfect.  Today I read a post on Tara Lazar’s blog Writing for Children (While Raising Them) about writing in rhyme which was interesting and helpful.

Here’s a few excerpts:

“Many kidlit writers hear “don’t rhyme” from picture book editors. It’s not that editors hate rhyme (well, maybe SOME do), it’s just that they see badly-executed rhyme so often in the slush, it’s easier to discourage it. Common rhymes like “me, see” and “you, two” and other one-syllable predictability can kill the joy of a story.”

“Editors also see a lot of rhyme with flawed meter. Meter is a tricky thing. There’s stressed and unstressed syllables…  If you read your own rhyme aloud, you might not even hear how off it is, because you are forcing yourself to follow the pattern [you think] you created.”

“Then there’s the near-rhyme mistake, when the words don’t really rhyme at all, unless you twist your tongue or alter your accent. Like “hat” and “what” or “hat” and “back”.”

Tara then interviews Lane Fredrickson, author of Watch Your Tongue, Cecily Beasley (a rhyming picture book) and creator of RhymeWeaver.com – a great website about writing in rhyme.  If you like writing rhyming stories have a look at her website – it’s got all the information you need about meter, stressed and unstressed syllables, stressed and unstressed words, metrical feet, metrical lines and all the different types of rhymes!  Wow, I’ve got a lot to learn!

Of course there are authors who do get it right as there is a huge amount of wonderful rhyming books out there.  This afternoon I read “Cowzat!” by Bruce Atherton and Ben Redlich,  a very funny and creative story about a group of cows playing cricket.

I then scanned our bookshelves and came up with a number of rhyming favourites – “Olga the Brolga” by Rod Clement, “Wombat Went A’ Walking” illustrated by Lachlan Creagh, “Marmaduke Duck and the Marmalade Jam” by Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Sarah Davis and who could forget the legendary “The Eleventh Hour” by Graeme Base!

We’ve also enjoyed “Ella Kazoo will not Brush her Hair” and “Ella Kazoo will not go to Sleep” by Lee Fox, illustrated by Cathy Wilcox.

Have you written a rhyming story?  How did you work out all the syllables, meter etc?

What’s your favourite rhyming picture book?

Rachel 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Writing Rhyming Stories

  1. I attended a Writing for Children workshop a couple of years ago and was told pretty much the same – if you’re going to rhyme, it has to be really good. I’ve never attempted rhyme in a children’s story although I do aim for that rhythmic prose incorporating lots of rhyming words. ‘Cowzat!’ sounds very interesting – I’m going to see if they have it at our local library 🙂

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    • I hope you find “Cowzat!” Last weekend (I think) my sister was reading picture books to kids for a special Picture Book/reading day in Melbourne. Would have been fantastic to go to. Lynley Dodd (love her books), Justine Clarke and Rhys Muldoon were there (my sister was so busy reading that she didn’t get to meet them!). Did you hear about it at all?

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