Rhyming Critique Groups will be organized this week!
Thank you Dawn Young for organizing our rhyming critique groups again this year! Dawn posted a sign up on our Facebook page so please sign up there if you want to join a rhyming critique group! You MUST be on the RhyPiBoMo Official Registration List to participate this year as we have so many people to accommodate. This is a great opportunity to find other rhymers, as it’s tough to find a rhyming crit group.
I am so pleased to have today’s guest blogger. She is a partner in crime with the rhyming guru Corey Rosen Schwartz. Together they wrote the Best in Rhyme Honor Book WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? If you haven’t read it, find it! It is a delightful read and a perfect example of how rhyme enhances a story.
I’m pleased to introduce
Author Rebecca J. Gomez
Author Rebecca J. Gomez
Avoiding Disaster: Consistency in
Rhyme and Meter
When someone picks up a rhyming book, they want it to shine. They want the rhymes to be true and the meter to flow smoothly. Anything less can mean disaster for your story.
Do you want to avoid disaster in your rhyming manuscripts? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Syllables aren’t everything.
More important than the number of syllables is a word’s natural rhythm. Consider the word “coincidence.” Four distinct syllables in a clear, established, natural rhythm—co-IN-ci-dence.
Others don’t have such consistent rhythm. Consider wild, fowl, and rumbling. The rhythm in each of these words depends on the speaker.
Wild and fowl technically have one syllable each. But many people, like me, pronounce them as two. Wi-ld. Fow-l.
Rumbling may seem like an obvious three-syllable word. But not so fast! Sure, rumble is two, so adding “ing” to the end would make it three. Right? Not necessarily. Some people skip over that middle syllable and pronounce the word as two. Rumb-ling.
Alternate pronunciations can also affect a word’s natural rhythm. Consider the word “harassment,” for example. Is the stress on the first or second syllable? It depends on the speaker.
Does it REALLY rhyme?
When my co-author, Corey Rosen Schwartz, and I are working on a rhyming manuscript, one of us will inevitably say, “Those words don’t rhyme.” I’m in the Midwest. She’s on the east coast. We talk differently. For me, the words not and thought rhyme perfectly. For her, they don’t.
Working these things out together has helped us write rhyming stories with consistent, easy-to-read rhyme and meter.
Names and verbs often compete for the stressed beat.
Consider this sentence: Jack ran down the street. Now say it out loud. Did you emphasize Jack or ran? I tend to emphasize a name when it is the first word in a line, but others will emphasize the verb. If I came across a section of verse like the example below, I might need to pause and correct myself.
Jack ran down the street
with no shoes on his feet,
feeling anxious to meet
his best friend.
This won’t be an issue for every reader, but it’s your responsibility to be aware of even the slightest potential for meter trouble and take steps to address it.
If it doesn’t fit, don’t force it.
Don’t arrange a line in such a way as to force an emphasis onto a different part of a word. This is a big NO-NO and I doubt your readers will forgive you for it (assuming a mistake like this makes it past an editor…which, sadly, does occasionally happen).
Don’t use a word solely for its rhyme. Just because a word is listed on thesaurus.com as a synonym – and it’s just the rhyme you need! – doesn’t mean you should use it. Would you use that word if you were writing in prose? Does it truly make sense in the context of your story? Readers love interesting language, but if it a word feels out of place, it will annoy rather than amaze.
Because of the differences in the way people talk, the way they read, and even their penchant (or lack thereof) for rhyme, consistency in rhyme and meter is difficult to attain. However, if you put in the effort and are more patient than you ever thought possible, then your story’s “meter issues” will be blips rather than disasters.
Rebecca J. Gomez loves to write rhyming stories and poems because they are her favorite to read aloud. When she’s not writing or test-reading her rhyming manuscripts on her family, she likes to bake, crochet, hike in the woods, watch movies, and read books from her ever growing to-read pile. She lives in Nebraska with her husband, three kids, two poodles, and one parrotlet.
Facebook: Rebecca J. Gomez — Children’s Author
Thank You Rebecca!
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97 thoughts on “RhyPiBoMo 2016 Day 9 Author Rebecca J. Gomez”
Thanks for the help!
Elizabeth Saba – very practical but not so easy to get right every time advice. Thank you so much. Sometimes I find that I when I am reading a rhyming book aloud…I have to change the way I am reading it for it to make sense. I will definitely try to avoid that in my manuscripts. Love your books. E
Thank you for sharing how regional dialect can affect the consistency of your rhyme. Rebecca, your post has given me a lot to think about when I write. Thank you!
Thanks for the post about the pitfalls we all need to avoid.
Sarah Harroff – You gave some really good reasons for forming a rhyming crit group. So many factors can influence how someone scans a word or group of words that it’s clearly important to bring a range of preferences to bear on your writing. Thanks for the tips and examples, Rebecca!
Wow! As if rhyming weren’t hard enough—-are you telling me not and thought don’t rhyme either? My head is exploding!
Thanks, Rebecca. Syllables aren’t everything! Sometimes I work so hard to make that work and it never does! And N S E W dialect means lots. Love this post. Can’t wait to get my hands on What About Moose!
All good points to be aware of and remember. Thank you!
Thanks for the great reminder about accents and how they affect our word choice 🙂
DebbieLubbert Today is April 12th, not the 11th 🙂 Thanks for the very helpful post!
Thanks for the practical pointers!
Great post! Thanks for reminding me that words are spoken differently in other parts of the country.
I’m in awe of rhyming books. English is my second language and most of the time I doubt I’ll ever be any good at rhyming. It’s seems to me that my vocabulary should be a lot bigger, my accent gets in the way, and to make matters more complicated and even though I’ve been living in the US for 16 years, I learned English in England. Sometimes I still say GA-ra-ge instead of ga-RA-ge. LOL It’s messy, but I’ll keep trying. Thanks, Rebecca!
Btw, not and thought do rhyme for me 🙂
That is always the hardest thing to know… since we are not always aware of when a word might be said differently in another part of the country. Good thoughts!
Rebecca J. Gomez, Chris Clayson thanks you for so many new thoughts to think about as we delve deeper into the rocky regions of rhyme.
Judy Cooper – Wow. So much to keep in mind.
Rhyme is like skinny jeans . . . if it don’t fit, don’t force it!
I confess to forcing rhymes.
As a rookie, it was all the time.
I know when I’m tired the words don’t flow.
Then off to sleep I go.
Such great advice! Thank you for your ideas!
Such important information to live by in the rhyming world. Thanks so much, Rebecca.
Question–what do you think about the word “difference”? Would you read it with 2 or 3 syllables? And where is the stress?
Thanks for the 411. What about Moose is adorable!
Thanks Rebecca for making this clear to me…. You pointed out some things I hadn’t considered, but will now! My mother was from southern Tennessee and although I was raised in Indiana, she definately passed on some of her dialect with us. My students used to make fun of me when I would say the days of the week…to us, Monday was Mondy, Tuesdy, etc….your post made me smile as I remembered such things!!!
Thanks, Rebecca! I feel like your post really made something click for me.
Melanie Ellsworth – Thanks for all the pointers, Rebecca. I hadn’t consciously thought about how names and verbs can compete for emphasis, but that’s very true!
Great tips, Rebecca — and I am a big fan of What About Moose! Wishing you the best of success. Thanks to you and Angie for this post!
Shirley Johnson – Very good information. Thanks for sharing this post.
Ingrid Boydston- This is a timely post for me! I just used a rhyming synonym, & it probably wasn’t the best choice. Thanks for the clearly stated tips!
NATALIE LYNN TANNER: THANK YOU, Rebecca, for pointing out these potential pitfalls in our rhyming and writing. You are right: “[it is our] responsibility to be aware of even the slightest potential for meter trouble and take steps to address it.” GOOD CALL!!! GOOD POST!!! THANK YOU!!!!
Tim Canny – Another great post that will send me back to my WIP to check and double check for pitfalls. Thanks Rebecca.
Judy Sobanski –
Rebecca, thanks for sharing some of the nuances of rhyme. It’s funny how pronunciations differ depending on where one lives.
Thanks for the info and tips. Getting meter and rhythm right is hard.
So many important points you brought up, Becky…thank you so much for a fabulous RhyPiBoMo post! When I began writing rhyming stories, I often let the rhyme lead the story…and I also was guilty of putting the stress where I wanted it to be…not where it was supposed to be. And I love that you point out something many of us don’t consider…there are certain words that are pronounced quite differently depending on what region you live in…that’s one of the reasons rhyme is sooooo difficult to do well. 😉
So, avoid using words altogether that might have different pronunciations in different parts of the country?
It all adds to the challenge of writing in rhyme.*argggggggggggg* 😉
Melinda Kinsman –
Thanks Rebecca! I’m a day late reading this post, but this was just what we were discussing yesterday in a thread on the RhyPiBoMo FB page – the fact that different people stress words in sentences differently and pronounce words differently. I’m from the UK, and our sentence stress differences are often even more marked. I thankfully have quite a few US beta readers, but the differences still sometimes surprise me.
I love this post! Thanks for the tips!
Debbie Smart –
Thanks, Rebecca, for the great post. Lots of info to keep in mind!
Thank you so much for sharing, Rebecca! I’m looking forward to submitting.
Carol Samuelson-Woodson Thanks for your help. I have a question. You say, “Wild and fowl technically have one syllable each. But many people pronounce them as two. Wi-ld. Fow-l.” I pronounce them as 2. I’m fr midwest. I’ve noticed this & I’ve been assuming that’s incorrect & so I try to be sure that I only use one syllable words as one syllable. Are you “allowed” to use words like these as 2-syllables!?? I’ve also heard the advice that we should try to use words in rhyme as a person from the east would since most editors & agents hail from the eastern US.
LIke Melinda, I tend to be very English although I live in Canada. I hear a difference beteen four and for but no one around this mid west America near detroit does. How unique to have a co author on another side of the country! I will look for your books. I love the title what about Moose? we have them up north in Canada and Hensel and Gretel Ninja chicks is a bit like another book I read about Ninja red riding hood( fractured tale).Children will love them.Thank you I enjoyed your blog here.
Please excuse my blunders As I type it is small and I’m old and I only notice when the print is large and I can’t correct it.So sorry! Jane
I guess then that it would help to have critique groups members from different parts of the country, too, to identify different regional pronunciations. Good thoughts!
Great things to consider – brilliant idea to partner with someone across the country with a different accent.
Thank you for all the great advice. I especially like number 3. I hadn’t thought about it but it is so true.
Congrats on What About Moose? I love that book. It’s full of action, strong verbs, great characterization, and a good storyline. And the rhyme is spot on.
Rebecca, thanks for these tips on how pronunciations affect rhyme.
Michele Katz Grieder
My head is spinning! And yet I really enjoyed examining rhythm and meter with you!