Is Writing Rhyme a Fairy Tale?

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Did you hear about the Rhyming Picture Book Revolution Weekend

marching into New York City in December?

You don’t want to miss this conference on writing RPBs that will revolutionize the way you approach writing this beloved genre. Check out the website and register today as the conference is being hosted by Julie Gribble at the KidLit TV Studio, which is intimate and will hold a limited number of attendees who will meet and learn from some of the industries best authors, agents and editors of rhyme.

Our faculty includes:

Author Karma Wilson

Editor Justin Chanda

Author Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Editor Rebecca Davis

Author Lori Degman

Author Corey Rosen Schwartz

Agent Kendra Marcus

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RPB Revolution Weekend Website

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Is Writing in Rhyme a Fairy Tale?

By Angie Karcher

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There is a mystique associated with writing rhyming picture books. This endeared genre is beloved by children and parents and lends itself to snuggle time. Teachers encourage rhyme because it is an essential element in language development. As a former kindergarten teacher and developmental therapist I am focused on sharing the message that kids need a firm foundation of rhyme early and often to help them become lifelong learners.

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Nursery Rhymes encourage verbal participation, memorization, and increase phonemic awareness and confidence. Without them in today’s curriculum kids need more rhyme.

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Historically, rhyme is celebrated through traditional storytelling. Folk song musicality helps the singer remember the words, rhythm gives the listener a memorable beat and rhyme ends each line with an unforgettable punch. People are drawn to writing rhyme because of the tradition but what they miss is the real craft involved.

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Many writers fall into traps when using rhyme as the focus of their manuscript.

  • Use simple, one syllable rhyming words

  • Leave the story and follow the rhyming words down a different path

  • Use forced rhyme – switch words around in an unnatural way to make a rhyming word fit

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These are some reasons rhyme is often viewed as the “Cinderella” of writing and is swept away with the cinders.

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Professional rhyming picture book writers know that when done well, rhyming manuscripts glitter like the Fairy Godmother’s wand! Truly magical!

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Picture book writing has a unique set of guidelines. Picture books are typically 32 pages long and the illustrations should tell half of the story. They are meant to be read aloud as the language should be lyrical and rhythmic. Writing picture books is challenging without rhyme but when rhyme is added to this process…it is tremendously difficult when done well.

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Here’ a story about a determined writer who continued to rhyme though discouraged at conferences, refused by agents and editors and was excluded from critique groups.

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Once upon a time there was a writer named…Rhymerella.

Her wicked step-mother forced her to the attic and banned her from attending the ball.

Rhymerella used this time to perfect her manuscript. She developed strong characters and built a story arc with page-turning tension. She selected a rhyme scheme, added internal rhyme, eliminated forced rhyme and used clever, multiple syllabic rhyming words. She then sprinkled in assonance, consonance, hyperbole, simile, metaphors, and repeating phrases that ensured a read-it-out-loud-ability. She left room for illustrations, added rhythm and a polished meter that paced her once pumpkin of a story into a cherished carriage.

Her fairy godmother agent appeared and submitted her work to kingdom presses far and wide.

Rhymerella wore a lovely dress and some impractical shoes to the ball where she fell in love with the prince, who just happened to be a publisher who accepted rhyme.

Her rhyming picture books were celebrated across the land

and she lived

*****************happily

****************************ever

**************************************after.

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If you dream of attending the ball then you must take rhyme seriously and realize that it is difficult when done well.

  • I spend three times as many hours on rhyming manuscripts than others.

  • I read it out loud to myself and others over and over.

  • I submit to critique groups until the lines roll off my tongue.

  • I attend SCBWI conference sessions on rhyme and take writing classes specific to picture books and rhyme.

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Remember, editors continue to receive a tragic number of “dungeon quality” rhyming manuscripts!

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If you are destined to rhyme, then study Rhymerella’s story. Find a fairy godmother agent, get fancied up and waltz into that ballroom and WOW your way into their hearts! If you are a prince of a writer, feel free to forgo the glass slippers.

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Your coach awaits!

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References

Rhymers are Readers: The Importance of Nursery Rhymes

http://www.kbyutv.org/kidsandfamily/readytolearn/file.axd?file=2011%2F3%2F2+Rhymers+are+Readers-Why+Important.pdf

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Phonemic Awareness vs. Phonological Awareness

http://www.k12reader.com/phonemic-awareness-vs-phonological-awareness/

3 thoughts on “Is Writing Rhyme a Fairy Tale?

  1. Pingback: Is Writing Rhyme a Fairy Tale? | Angie Karcher

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