With the looming launch date of my debut picture book, My Llama Drama, and my work behind the scenes plugging away on the development of what I hope will be new published stories, I've some thought into why I've chosen to rhyme in some stories and not in others.
Firstly, I think it's important to dispel one myth close to my heart about rhyming stories. As a teacher and reader of a gazillion picture books, I've held tightly to my misconception that writing in rhyme was easy!! I'm here to tell you... IT IS NOT - some authors just make it look easy!
I wrote My Llama Drama over a few days with the initial intention of it being a poem for my son that we could enjoy together. When it blossomed into a full blown rhyming story I decided (after several months of sitting on it by the way) that I needed professional help to get the story ship-shape.
Now, I have to be honest. I thought my story and the rhyme within it were pretty good until I got myself a wonderful editor. Naively thinking my story only required a bit of a spit and polish set me up for a wild ride!
Tamara Rittershaus and I worked backwards and forwards over many, many weeks to get My Llama Drama (originally called 'Llamas Can't Talk!') to a perfectly publishable place. She is the most brilliant poetry coach and a perfectionist to-boot, so I was in very capable hands and trusted her every word and suggestion. Turned out... it wasn't so much the story that needed so much work - it was the poetry!
She taught me about meter, beats and where they should be placed dependent on the type of poetry I was going for, stressed and unstressed syllables (look these up, it's fascinating) and how to select words that would work universally, not just in good ol' Oz. I learned that to rhyme is not hard... it's the rhythm of poetry that trips a lot of us up.
I tell you, I will never be able to read a Dr Seuss book the same ever again! Not only do I now wear my author hat in a bid to understand the mechanics of his writing, but I have a new appreciation of how bloody hard he must have worked to get his stories to that place.
"The problem with writing a book in verse is, to be successful, it has to sound like you knocked it off on a rainy Friday afternoon. It has to sound easy." - Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr Seuss)
Yes, indeed, Dr Seuss!!
So, why rhyme?
Yes, they're hard to write, but when written well what makes rhyming stories so good for our little readers?
Here are just a few reasons to include rhyming texts in your child's/student's book collection:
So, having said all of that, I can't guarantee I'm going to write forevermore in rhyme. It's tricky but when you get it right it's so worth it! In fact, I've started a new picture book manuscript in rhyme and then decided to write it in prose too to see which I preferred. Right now, rhyme isn't winning this time, but we'll see!
I believe there's a place for diverse and rich texts in all our lives, including rhyme AND prose. Do you have a preference? I'd love to know in the comments below.
Who am I?
Hi, I'm Lisa. I'm a writer, educator, and creative type. I live with my husband and son in Canberra, Australia.