A Cautionary Tale of Writing Rhyming Picture Books! Monday Lesson 23
Please remember to sign up for the webinar with Mira and Sudipta on Friday.
“3 Things You Must Know About Writing Rhyming Kids’ Books” April 25th, at 6:00 PM!
Here is the link to reserve your spot
You should also consider taking this poetry course with Sudipta and Mira!
This dynamic duo will be extraordinary, I’m sure of it!
Anyone who has taken one of Mira’s classes will tell you…she is truly amazing and a very generous teacher. I have been blessed to take 2 of her classes. I highly recommend this course!
I hope you are busy writing your poems for the Golden Quill Poetry Contest!
The deadline for the contest is this Saturday at midnight, Central Time.
Today’s guest blogger contacted me after agreeing to participate and asked what she should write about…I really appreciated her offer to discuss a topic that I felt was important! So…I told her that I needed someone very brave to write about the cold, hard facts of writing rhyming picture books…as we are quickly approaching the Picture Book part of our month, the timing was perfect for her to lay it all out there, honestly and matter-of-factly. She did not disappoint!
Now that you see how difficult it is to write good poetry/rhyme you must hear how hard it really is to write a rhyming picture book. You came here to learn and improve your craft and I feel that it is my obligation to share the truth about this genre we have chosen.
So…Put your Big Girl/Big Boy Pants on and have a seat because Tiffany is here to share the good, the bad and the ugly about RhyPiBos! Afterwards…if you still decide to pursue this genre, hold on tight and carry on! I will be right there with you!
So, without further ado, I’m honored to present today’s
Golden Quill Guest Blogger
Tiffany Strelitz Haber!
The Power Of Rhyme: A Cautionary Tale
This post is not sugar coated. Please proceed with caution…
Rhyme is a beautiful thing. It has the power to be melodic, humorous, engaging, fun and addictive. I am a huge, undeniable fan of great rhyme. But what you may not know…is that rhyme has a dark side.
An evil beast side that will suck character development right out of your manuscript. Yep. A side that will systematically remove plot from every story.
Take arc, spin it around over its flaming, horned head and fling it out the window.
Rhyme will eat your brain for breakfast and rhyme may very well ruin your chances of getting published.
You see, for some reason, when most people start rhyming, they stop writing.
They stop caring about everything that makes picture books beautiful. They forget all about subtle nuances and humor. They completely overlook arc and twist endings. They remove all evidence of fabulous yet flawed characters that readers can simultaneously empathize with and root for. What do they do instead? They focus solely on whether the last words in their sentences are BAT, MAT and CAT, and it renders the rest of the book unreadable.
And by the way, if rhyme is a beast, then meter is the poison venom he spews while laughing maniacally as you bang your head endlessly against the concrete wall. Because far more difficult than rhyming your words…is nailing your meter. And you MUST nail your meter. An editor can smell poor meter from a mile away, and I promise you this- they won’t even read your story. It’s just too painful.
I warned you this post would be harsh…but so is rejection. And therefore, so is this industry. And the ONLY reason you should attempt to write your manuscript in rhyme…. is if you simply MUST. You are obsessed with rhythm, unstressed and stressed beats, internal rhyme, rhyme scheme, rhymezone.com, scansion…all of it. Seriously. Because unless you are THAT into everything I just mentioned, instead of a beautiful picture book, you will wind up with 500 powerless words. And what’s worse than that?
When I first began attending SCBWI conferences, I too was told I should write my stories in prose, and forget all about rhyme. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I KNEW that rhyme was in my DNA and I simply HAD to do it. So I did. And here I am telling you not to. So what gives? Well, if you can read everything I’ve just written- all the warnings and all the rationale NOT to go down the rhyming road…but you still feel like you must…then give it a shot. Because there ARE beautiful, humorous, lovely, amazing rhyming picture books out there. And if you believe in your heart of hearts that you can write one…then go for it!
But be careful. And be honest with yourself about your ability to rhyme and to nail your meter. (All while simultaneously executing a creative plot, fantastic characters that your reader can love and root for, a storyline that begins, arcs and ends seamlessly in a about 500 words, and leaves the reader wanting to close the book- flip to the beginning, and read it all over again.)
Can you do it?
Your ability to be impartial and objectively answer that question will most likely mean the difference between getting published, and living in the slush.
Just remember: Rhyme is not a gimmick that will help you get published. It is a trick that might ensure you never do.
Tiffany Strelitz Haber is a rhyming children’s book author, represented by Teresa Kietlinski of The Prospect Agency. To learn more about Tiffany, please visit her website: http://www.itsrhymetime.com
and her facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/tshauthor@tiffrhymes
Here are two of her books:
THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN (Holt/Macmillan, 2012)
NEW! check out “Monster” in the NY Times Sunday Book Review: click here!
OLLIE AND CLAIRE (Philomel/Penguin, 2013)
Thank you Tiffany Strelitz Haber!
RhyPiBoMo Daily Lesson: Monday, April 21st
By Angie Karcher © 2014
This lesson covers more crazy-fun forms of poetry!
Alphabet Poetry (write these down)
There are quite a few types of alphabet poems:
>The first letter of each word is a letter of the alphabet, in order, but you don’t need to use all of the alphabet, you can use just a few as long as they are in order. You don’t have to start with A.
Here are a few of my attempts:
By Angie Karcher © 2014
>The first word in each line begins with a letter of the alphabet. As above, you don’t need to use more than a few lines but they must be in alphabetical order.
Lions roar with a
By Angie Karcher © 2014
>All words in each line begin with the beginning letter in the sentence.
Respect, Reach-out, Reassure
So Sweetly Someone Swoons
To The Tune That’s
By Angie Karcher © 2014
There are 2 sites with fun examples for you to check out:
Acrostic Poetry – A poem where the first letter of each line spells out a word, name, or phrase. (write this down)
Okay, this one is fun and there are even sites that will do it for you…really! LOL
At Acrostic Poem.org all you have to do is type your name in the box and you get a beautiful poem! This is the one they generated for me…
A is for Alluring, so attractive
N is for Noble, self-sacrificing
G is for Grateful, ever appreciative
I is for Intelligent, quickness of mind
E is for Elegant, so graceful
Oh, if only I had written this about myself…LOLOL
Here is the one I wrote:
A lady who
Good old-fashioned anti-
Entertainment in May!
By Angie Karcher © 2014
This, from the lady who decided to run a month-long writing challenge! = )
I’m just kidding! I’m having the time of my life!
Invented Poetry – is just that, poetic forms invented by various poets and named by them…Talk about opening the poetry floodgates!
There are unimaginable numbers of invented poetic forms and they continue to grow daily. This link to Shadow Poetry below will take you to a huge list of traditional poetic forms, many that we have not covered, but it will also offer a really interesting list of invented poetry, with the rules of each. Shadow Poetry also allows authors to add new poetic forms of invented poetry.
So…I challenge you to create your own poetic form and submit it to Shadow Poetry!
1209 Milwaukee Street
Excelsior Springs, MO 64024
You can also contact the site admin by email for more information.
A Hidden Word Poem:
This is a Hidden Word poem I wrote that has the word HOME hidden in each stanza. This word is the answer to the child’s question. This is as close to a rap as I’ve ever written. I’ve read this before with a drum beating 4 counts in the background… I’ve also had a few adults chant “Where we goin?” in the background while I read… it was very powerful!
Today I’m sharing poetry I’ve written as I’ve not been able to write much this month and I’m dying to write and share! Thanks for reading…
See if you can find the rest of the HOME words in each stanza…
This is from an anthology of poems about the UGRR and the Civil War
WHERE WE GOIN’? by Angie Karcher ©2008
The mornin’ sun’s stretchin’ Her arms today.
Wakin’ at first light, got nO time to play.
The watchman’s a watchin’ so’s we don’t stray.
Follow Mama and Papa over orchard’s way.
“WherE we goin’?”
The noon sun’s givin’ me a sweaty Hug.
Wakin’ achin’ back muscles with ditches dug.
The watchman’s a drinkin’ with a mighty chug.
FOllow Mama and Papa. Give her skirt a tug.
“WherE we goin’?”
The evenin’ sun’s leavin’ us wavin’ bye.
Wakin’ thoughts of escapin’ makes Mama cry.
The watchman’s a sleepin’. His jug is dry.
FollOw Mama and Papa as Eagles fly.
“Where we goin’?”
The night moon cradles us in His light.
Wakin’ hound dOgs, barkin’, chasin’ us tonight.
The watchman’s a huntin’ dog’s are sniffin’ right.
Follow Mama and Papa, as I hug em’ tight.
“Where wE goin’?”
The dusk moon’s pointin’ to the drinking gourd.
Wakin’ rain, washin’ tracks, as we praise the Lord.
The watcHman’s a swearin’ as the blessin’s poured.
FollOw Mama and Papa to our great reward.
“Where wE goin’?”
The mornin’ sun’s stretchin’ Her arms again.
Wakin’ achin’ sOre feet from walkin’ where we been.
The conductor’s a greetin’ with a Northern grin.
Follow Mama and Papa meetin’ railroad mEn.
“Where we goin’?”
Here are a few examples of invented poetry:
The Brevette – created by Emily Romano
This poem consists of a subject (noun)
in this exact order. The verb should show an ongoing action. This is done by spacing out the letters in the verb, where instead of saying the word that is the verb, the reader spells out the word. There are only three words in the poem, giving it the title Brevette. There is no limit or rules concerning syllables but it is suggested that the words have a good balance, as a whole.
By Angie Karcher © 2014 (I had SO much more I wanted to say!)
Invented forms from a site called Poetry Magnum Opus:
The Acronet – by Patricia A Farnswort-Simpson 2008
This poem is a combination of an Acrostic (an acrostic, the first letter of each line when read vertically spells out a phrase) and a Nonet. (A nonet has nine lines. The first line has nine syllables, the second line eight syllables, the third line seven syllables, etc… until line nine finishes with one syllable. It can be on any subject and rhyming is optional.)
I didn’t get past this one before I had to try it!
A poem in 18 lines made up of 2 nine line stanzas.
Syllabic, 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9 syllables per line.
Rhymed at the discretion of the poet.
By Angie Karcher © 2014
9 Elephants “TIP-TAP-TOE” to the beat
8 Little “TIPS,” big “TAPS,” huge toed feet
7 Elephants wear tutus too
6 Plumes of organza-blue
(I REALLY wanted to write “Organza colored plumes of blue” but It had to start with a P and have 6 syllables) darn it!
5 Herds of elephants
4 All in a row
3 “Neatly now…” (Teacher)
1 “SMASH!” (You wanted it to be “TOE” didn’t you!)
2 “I can’t” (Elephant)
3 “Pleʹa now” (Teacher)
5 An elephant row
6 Pachyderms, oh so blue
7 They sob tears with tutus too
8 Once, a tip-tap-toed-up floor…
9 Elephants “TIP-TAP-TOING” no more!
>I had to come up with a phrase that had 18 letters (ELEPHANTS TIP TAP TOE) This makes it an Acrostic Poem.
>I had to start counting syllables
>I had to begin to tell a story
>I wrote the last line so I knew where I was going
>I added in elephant and dancing terms
>I added in onomatopoeia (“Tip” “Tap” “Smash” “Trip”)
>I added alliteration (tip-tap-toe)
>I added homographs (row – in a line/row – struggle or scuffle)
>I added homophones (blue – color/ blue – sad)
>I added the teacher’s voice (underlined)
>I added an elephant talking (“I can’t”)
>I added repeating lines (tutus too)
>Last line in first stanza, (SMASHED) intentionally non-rhyming signify impending disaster
>The rhyming words are color coded
>I added Portmanteaus in the title inspired by Cinderellaphant by Dianne de Las Casas It combined Elephant – Anti – and Fantastic
Here it is now without all the distractions…
Elephants “TIP-TAP-TOE” to the beat
Little “TIPS,” big “TAPS,” huge toed feet
Elephants wear tutus too
Plumes of organza-blue
Herds of elephants
All in a row
An elephant row
Pachyderms, oh so blue
They sob tears with tutus too
Once, a tip-tap-toed-up floor…
Elephants “TIP-TAP-TOEING” no more!
This was so much fun! And boy, if you think meter is tough, try it in lines that don’t leave much room for rhythm with decreasing and increasing syllables…whew! It needs work but I loved this challenge!
I enjoyed the word play, such as the surprise word in line 9 of the first stanza. You want it to be “Toe” but I had an S and “Smash” fit much better with the impending, elephant, dancing disaster.
I tried to match the rhythm of the poem with the failing tap dancing efforts of the elephants. It got worse as it went along. Don’t even talk to me about feet in this one…I was tripping with the elephants! I don’t love the ending and I want to keep working on it but I feel like time stood still like a herd of dancing pachyderms!
I spent about an hour on this which was way more time than I planned but I was hooked…that’s why I know I MUST write poetry! LOL
The Sound of Poetry Review is a great contemporary poetry resource:
It felt good to do some writing today!
2 Part Writing Challenge: 1) Write an Acronet! Have fun with it!
2) Then, invent your own poetry form and PLEASE share it in Pearls of Poetry!
Okay, now do everything else on the pledge for today and don’t forget to comment on today’s blog post!
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74 thoughts on “A Cautionary Tale of Writing Rhyming Picture Books! Monday”
Love the non sugar coated post by Tiffany!
Funny Freedom!!!!! :D:D:D
Really funny post and exercises. Off to work!
Enjoyed all these inventive forms. Found out I even wrote a form of shadow poetry for my poetry collection and I thought I made it up, and here it has a name all along. 🙂 Thanks for the info.
What a great post all those dire warnings not doing one teensy bit to scare me off. I could hear the voice of doom and the rock faces from labyrinth saying ‘beware’, ‘go back’, ‘woe betide…’ but I kept going until the very end…I am going on a rhyme hunt – I’m not scared! Thank you Tiffany Strelitz Haber and Angie. I am off to try an acronet. 🙂
Ha Ha….loved the elephant dance!
Thanks for the non-sugar coating warning!! Its good to keep all of this in mind when you’re writing!
Love Tiffany’ s warning … she sounds like a monster who’s found her mean! Lol ! Thanks again for valuable advice Angie and some fun poetry.
Thanks for the cold hard facts.
Wow, who knew that there were so many forms of poetry. Thanks for the cautionary tale too.
Thanks, Tiffany and Angie. By the way, Angie, “Where We Goin’?” is a wonderful poem.
Thank you Monica! You should hear it with a drum LOL…I love writing that southern voice…and the subject is one that evokes lots of emotion for me, as a writer.
Tiffany’s cold hard facts and Angie’s fun make-your-own poetry form give us good balance today. Thanks, ladies!
Today’s poem inspired by Tiffany Strelitz Haber’s Cautionary Tale:
To Rhyme or not to Rhyme—
That is the question.
To know that the slings and arrows of my verse
May only make my story worse.
Yet Rhyming is the Dream—
Despite the heartache and the usual jolts
That rhyme is heir to,
Characters drowning in a pond of prattle.
Aye there’s the rub—
The butterfly becomes a grub,
Embroiled in vanquished verse
Cursed plot turned into terse
Drivel, frivolous folly.
Every time, by golly,
(Ok–now that that’s out of my system, I’ll try an Acronet)
Got it! Don’t write a rhyming picture book unless that is the best way to tell your story. Otherwise use prose.
Off to write an acronet! Great post, Angie. So many forms here I can’t wait to try.
Definitely a post we needed to hear, Tiffany. Thanks!
Wow, Angie! Nice job on your acronet. I’m up for the challenge!
All kinds of forms and created ones too. Poets know how to have fun.
Thanks for all the fun poem types. It looks like fun.
While I am enjoying this month and am learning a lot, I must be honest and say that I don’t think I’m cut out for writing Rhyming Picture Books. I write a lot of them for my kids but they are usually personalized versions of books they love. I think that might be the extent of my poetry writing ability, and I’m glad to learn this before investing much more time in it. Thanks for doing this, Angie! I’ll finish the month, and it’s been very valuable for me!
An acronet – how fun! Off to brainstorm…And thanks to Tiffany – tough but true!
Tiffany, I appreciate your post. Rhyme can be dangerous, and I am learning how very difficult it is. But I’m a believer, and some stories insist on rhyme, don’t they? 😉 Angie, I had no idea how many forms and types of rhymes there are! My brain is bursting! 😉
Tiffany made it very clear why writing in rhyme is such a challenge. Thanks
I appreciate the tough love. There must be truth behind the title of one book on the kidlit business: “It’s a Bunny-Eat-Bunny World.”
The no-sugar-coating caution is a good one to remember. I enjoyed seeing your process in writing Elephantitastic Dancing!
I need to read Tiffany’s post each time I sit down to write a rhyming picture book manuscript. It will either stop me before I begin or will help me to dig in and write… and rewrite… and rewrite………..
Angie, thanks for this “inventive” post. I need to find my inventor’s hat, my thinking cap, my rhyming tam… off to write, I am.
Glad you are feeeling better. Looks like you are up to speed with a Monday full of new concepts and bright ideas. I’m off to invent a new form of poetry. In the distance, writer’s block is looming.
thanks, Tiffany – and Angie for the cold hard facts and the fun.
Thank you, Tiffany and Angie. This post is very inspiring and so, so true. I see many stories that need to be written in prose instead of rhyme. Thanks you guys and Angie, glad you’re feeling more up to snuff (whatever that means). 🙂
Tiffany, thanks for the straight forward about the rhyming business 😀
Angie, this lesson is a hoot!
You said please so nicely. I will try to get brave enough (or have divine inspiration that makes it good enough!) to share something.
I DEFINITELY appreciated Tiffany’s post – and I’m with Tina – not sure I’m cut out for this to be my passion – but I’m still LOVING learning along the way. And learning poetry/rhyme/meter helps make our prose flow better – have valued every bit of information I’ve gotten, and will continue to get! Super stuff.
Tiffany, thank you for the words that I’m sure will forever stick in my mind “You see, for some reason, when most people start rhyming, they stop writing.” I appreciate the warnings and the reminder to never allow the rhyme to let you stray and take you on some desultory detour.
Angie – that’s a very impressive collection of poems you have there! Thank you for sharing them with us.
Thank you, Tiffany…you are one of my favorite ladies of rhyming! Great advice…it’s hard to write a story in rhyme and then realize that it would be better in prose…it’s happened to me and it was difficult to admit. Angie, we are gathering even more steam on the RhyPiBoMo ride, thanks to you!
Oh My Gosh!! What an eye-opening lesson! “If rhyme is a beast, then meter is the poison venom he spews while laughing maniacally as you bang your head endlessly against the concrete wall.” Ain’t that the truth?! I appreciate you keeping us honest!
Fantastic post today, Angie. I appreciated the shot of cold truth from Tiffany and it was a joy reading all your poems and learning about all those lesser-known forms.
It may have been a ‘harsh’ post but it was honest and one we all needed to hear! Thank you, Tiffany and Angie!
Glad to hear you are feeling a bit better now, Angie! And thanks for some fun “Elephantastic” examples for today’s lessons!
Tiffany wrote a great guest post today, something we all need to think hard about. Thanks for the fun examples today. I invent forms all the time, so this will be a fun day for me.
Thanks for sharing your own poetry with us today, Angie. I look forward to trying the Acronet later.
I appreciate Tiffany’s honesty about writing rhyming picture books. My daughter and I really enjoy her book, THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN.
I like writing nonets and acrostics but never heard of the acronet before. Thanks for introducing it to me.
The acronet is quite a challenge. I tip my hat to you!
I write a monthly article for an online poetry newsletter and I love playing with poetry forms!
Ack! Acronet. Will attempt when I get back in the good ol’ US of A. But I’m still lurking while overseas!
I feel well and appropriately cautioned.
But not put off.
I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with all this information. On a bright note, I am just about ready to upload my manuscript to be critiqued!
Thanks, Tiffany, a splash of cold water every now and again helps to temper our metal.
Angie, your acronet was pretty ele-fantastic for a first try. I hope our first acronets turn out so well.
Thank you Tiffany for the dose of reality and Angie for the shot of creativity!
Thank you for the great advice will keep it in mind when creating story first rhyme second. Thanks Angie for sharing your talents !
I have “The Monster Who Lost His Mean” on my dining room table to read this week! Going to read it now! 🙂
Wow – so much to learn again and all of it quite fascinating!
I’m having Internet “issues” so I’m rushing to comment and will print out the post to read later this evening. Thanks.