September 23, 2014

Writing Children Stories In Rhymes

Ever since I've been a child, I've always enjoyed reading children's stories and nurseries in rhymes.

The rhythm of them lulls my senses to relaxation and I get to fully immerse myself in a tale of wonders and whimsicality that I don't necessarily get from books for older audiences.

Needless to say, as I go forth on my writerly quest, I have dabbled in coming up with tales in my own verses.

And in the process, I fell on this little gem that I thought I'd share with anyone else interested in creating Rhyming Picture Books:

Ode To Rhyming
If you are determined to write books in rhyme,
Make sure that your meter is smooth all the time.
Watch out where you place those long sounding words,
Or you will end feeding your text to the birds!

Craft stories that interest both parents and tot.
With fun situations that develop your plot.
Be careful with end-rhyme - these words must ring true,
And push the plot forward with things that are new.

Give thought to the words you fling onto your page,
Think of each as a gem sparkling bright for the age.
Snuggle up with Thesaurus - make him your special guy,
Then steal verbs and adjectives that make your rhyme fly!

Don't go into details - let the artwork do that.
Please, take up your clippers and prune out the fat.
Keep your rhyming way under those 1,000 words.
Or rejections will follow in gargantuan herds.

Make your verses paint pictures an artist can 'see,'
Drop clues in the rhyme that are plain as can be.
When words come together with pictures that glow,
Both writer and artist have a proud work to show.

And when you have finished your wonderful book,
Will publishers knock, begging you for a look?
Oh dear, no! You will first have to master the skill
Of queries, that prove your book fits their 'tough' bill.

~by Margot Finke

Wasn't this lovely? I particularly enjoyed how intertwined both writing and pictures are in these stories. Reminds me a bit of screenwriting, where the writer shouldn't put too much down on paper, to give more freedom to the actors and director for interpretation--thereby making movies (and picture books) a true team effort!
by Pamela Perry


  1. Rhymes make words into music or perhaps just into the rhythm. Rhythm is probably a primeval thing in human development. (Now I am wondering if animals can feel the rhythm.) On the other hand, the rules of rhyming stifle the words. One bends the words to observe the rhyming. Rhythm gained while content is lost.

    Personally, I love poetry without rhyming. To me, poetry is an art of saying something very deep in as few words as possible. Using rhyming phrases like "If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit" (from Simpson's trial) is equivalent to appealing to the rhythm sense of the body, rather than to the intellectual.

    1. I feel that people remember stories much more precisely if they're written in rhymes, probably because of the rhythm it imposes. I wouldn't exactly say that poetry puts a straight jacket on words, but more that it forces the writer to find more creative ways to express him/herself, ways he/she may not have conceived of before.

      Granted, I usually like those stories to be in shorter format (as in songs), or I may find it tiring after a while...

      And as for whether animals can feel rhythm or not... Here's what two elephants have to say to you: :)

  2. Instead of writing "the rules of rhyming stifle the words", I should have written "words are put in a straitjacket of rhymes". I have always been focused on and driven by the language itself. While other people, trying to get to sleep, see sheep jumping over the fence, I see words: "sheep 1", "sheep 2", ..., etc. So I want freedom for my words, freedom from the constraints of rhyme.

    But it is ok to use rhyme
    from time to time.