One of the most frequent topics discussed in writing conferences is writing in rhyme.

Some people say “DO NOT WRITE IN RHYME!!! You will have a terrible time selling your manuscript.”

Others say “Rhyming books are making a comeback!”

Still, others say “Be true to your style, whatever that is.”

Only one piece of advice is constant:

If you are going to rhyme, make sure it is PERFECT!

Perfect Metering

AND

Perfect Rhymes (no near rhymes or plural/nonplural rhymes)

How hard can perfect be, right?

Hahaha…. I laugh at my former thoughts.

Perfect is pretty hard. ESPECIALLY when you are just starting off.

I wrote a few manuscripts in rhyme. I even spent a lot of time on them. I sent them off.

They were rejected.

When I was able to get professional feedback I learned my metering was off, not all the rhymes were perfect, and some of the lines felt forced to make the rhyme.

So what did I do?

Well, I can take a hint.

I started writing in prose and I have to say, I love the freedom of word choice and structure that opened up before my eyes.

But when my critique partners or others seeking advice have come to me with a rhyming manuscript, I have felt unable to offer any real advice AND it bothered me knowing there was more to rhyming than what I understood.

ENTER: Storyteller Academy’s METEROLOGY 101 mini-class

Storyteller Academy has some awesome courses. If you haven’t checked them out, you really should. (If you keep your eyes open, they even have free courses every now and then!)

Meterology 101 is taught by Tim McCanna and he does a great job!

He covers:

4 Meters that work well in Picture Books

Choosing a Meter

Critiquing and Evaluating your Meter and Story

and Revising

AWESOME CONTENT which included videos and homework assignments, but I think I may have learned the most in the last live session when he critiqued ten of the participants’ stories online.

My biggest takeaways from Tim’s critiques-

*Use Shorter Measures

Many of the stories critiqued (including mine) had long, unnecessarily complicated measures. Use short, simple dialogue.

*Use Onomatopoeias

Tim reminded us kids love sounds. Sound words make rhyming books more fun to read.

*Use Pithier and Punchier Sentences

Over and over he mentioned cutting, simplifying, and playing up the performance value. Use fewer words. Use better words.

Back to the original question

Should I write my picture book in rhyme?

You know I can’t answer that for you…

but if you (or I) choose to write in rhyme we better be sure it is pithy, punchy, and perfect.

Best wishes as you continue on your writing journey!

Jamie Bills

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