Sunday, October 7, 2012

Writing in Rhyme

Writing in Rhyme 

By Karen Cioffi

Rhyming, when done right, is a wonderful way to engage children. Children, as soon as they’re able, love to rhyme words . . . and this can begin as early as two-years-old: cat-hat, mouse-house. But, to write a rhyming story . . . a well written rhyming story . . . is difficult; you need a good story, rhyme, rhythm/beat, meter, stresses, and more—all this in addition to the already unique rules and tricks in writing for children. And, some writers just don’t have that innate ability to do rhyme well. But, it can be learned.

According to Delia Marshall Turner, Ph.D., the elements of poetry are: voice; stanza; sound; rhythm; figures of speech; and form.

Voice (the speaker)
Stanza (the format of lines grouped together)
Sound (rhyme and other patterns)
Rhythm (the beat and meter – the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables)
Figures of Speech (types of figurative language)
Form (the type of poem, its design)

Along with this there is perfect rhyme, and approximate rhyme:

Perfect rhyme: tie/lie; stay/day
Approximate rhyme: top/cope; comb/tomb

And, there are many more bits and pieces that go into writing poetry/ rhyme. But, the foundation that holds your rhyming story all together is the story itself—you need a good story, especially when writing for children.

According to the article, “To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme” by Dori Chaconas, in the Writer Magazine, October 2001: “You may write in perfect rhyme, with perfect rhythm, but if your piece lacks the elements of a good story, your efforts will be all fluff without substance. I like to think of story as the key element, and if the story is solid, and conducive to rhyme, the rhyme will then enhance the story.”

This is a wonderful explanation because it mentions “if the story is solid, and conducive to rhyme.” This means that not all stories will work in rhyme, and the writer needs to know whether his will or will not.

So, if you’re interested in writing in rhyme, there are a number of sites and articles online that can help, there are also books available, and classes you can take. Do a Google search for the tools that are right for you.

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  1. Writing in poor rhyme is bad writing. If a person cannot write a good story in good rhyme, he should write in prose.

  2. Vivian, you're absolutely right. I can rhyme until the cows come home -- and I've written only a couple of rhymed stories that I'm really fond of. One was about a mole in search of a new hole and the other was about an overweight dragon. In my opinion, they are about four times as difficult as either a rhyme or a prose story.

  3. Some way, some time, people got the idea that to write for children one had to be a Dr. Seuss. That's not so. Yes, children love rhyme, but bad rhyme is horrible. Mainly children like good stories.

    I can write poetry and just plain write well enough that I could write children's stories in rhyme, but I want a good story first. Therefore, I seldom write in rhyme.

    However, the people that can write good rhyme and good stories and both combined are few and far between and are to be admired.

  4. Dear Karen,
    Thanks for your insight into rhyming for children's books. You are right children love good stories. Good stories with good rhymes is a winning combination. I appreciate your willingness to share your knowledge with us.

    Never Give Up
    Celebrate you today.

  5. Dear Peggy, Vivian, and Joan, It's so true that the first thing needs to be a good story. One that will engage kids. I tried writing rhyme for children, but quickly found out I don't have that skill, so happily leave it to the pros. :)

    I think if you're not skilled at writing in rhyme, you put so much thought into the rhyming that the story is neglected.