Posted in meter, Picturebooks, rhyme, rhythm, stress, Writing

50% off first hour’s edit

To warm up your Winter Writing – Jackie’s Rhyming Manuscript Editing Service is offering 50% off your first hour’s edit for the entire month of JUNE.

Normally $45, for JUNE only you can get your first hour for only $22.50 – you’ll also receive a FREE copy of her Rhyme Like the Experts book.

So if you have a rhyming children’s story or poem that just won’t behave itself why not take advantage of this special offer?

Posted in Uncategorized

The Croc and the Platypus – Blog Tour


Blog tour graphic

click on the image for all blogs hosting the tour


This is the last stop for The Croc and the Platypus blog tour and I thought I’d finish up with a little post about, guess what?


Talk to any parent, any book shop owner, any child and they will tell you that they love stories that rhyme. To confirm this fact, Goodnight Mice! by Frances Watts and Judy Watson was awarded the 2012 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Children’s Fiction.

Goodnight, Mice! has been called ‘the perfect bedtime book’, a story told in rhyming verse about the antics of four cheeky mice as they prepare for bed.

The Croc and the Platypus


And joy of joys, The Croc and the Platypus, my very first rhyming picture book is available now thanks to Walker Books!


So what exactly is a story told in rhyming verse?

This might seem an odd question but stories told in rhyming verse have fundamental differences to stories told in prose.

1. They are, by their nature, condensed.
2. They are structured into verses.
3. They are written in consistent meter.
4. They follow a rhyming scheme and
5. They are often lyrical and poetic.

While this may seem obvious many new writers stumble over at least one of the points listed above.

So what are some common mistakes made by new writers of stories in rhyming verse? These mistakes also apply to writing in prose.

1. Using wasteful words.


For example…

The snow was falling from the sky

How can we express snow falling without wasting words?


Snowflakes kissed Eliza’s nose

So the first line contains 7 words and imparts very little information while the edited version, containing only 4 words, introduces a character, describes the weather and places the character outside in it.

2. Tautology.


For example…

She nodded her head and shrugged her shoulders
Can you nod your foot? Can you shrug your elbows?
Tautology is the needless repetition of meaning. Saying the same thing twice. She nodded and shrugged, gives the same information in half the words.


3. Using dull words.


For example…

John rode his bike down the hill

How can we liven this up to create an exciting, colourful, sense driven moment?




John’s knuckles whitened as speed wobbled his wheels.


Although this line has one more word that the first line it is definitely more interesting to read. It gives us a sense of exhilaration, and impending danger. It doesn’t read like a report.


As I said in the beginning, stories written in rhyming verse are, by their nature, condensed and so every word needs to say something.

If you want to describe someone running fast through the bush, don’t say, they were running fast through the bush, say they splintered through the eucalypts.RLTE

If you are interested in learning more about the art of writing in rhyme and meter and the common mistakes that people make, leave a comment by the end of the day and I will send you a copy of my book Rhyme like the Experts, where I explain meter in a simple fashion using syllable grids and examples to highlight where, how and why meter works.



Posted in meter, Poetry, rhyme, rhythm





Rhyming Poetry or Verse Stories for Children

Entry Fee $5

Entries to be received by 1st JUNE 2013


Conditions of Entry

  • Stories or poems must be unpublished
  • Stories or poems must not have been previously submitted to my Rhyming Ms Editing Service

Submission guidelines

Cover Sheet to include entrants’…

  • Title of Work
  • Name
  • Address
  • Email
  • Method of payment: cheque, money order, direct debit or PayPal

Story or poem to be…

  • Typed in 12 point Arial
  • Double spaced
  • Title of Work on each page (header)
  • Page numbers (footer)
  • No identification (only on cover sheet)

Please send story or poem by

  • Regular mail to

5 Lewis Court

Anglesea Vic 3230

  • Email as word doc attachment to with “COMPETITION” in the subject line

Entry fee payment

  • Cheque or money order to Jackie Hosking (see above for address)
  • Direct debit to Jackie Hosking BSB 063144 Acc No 10174208 (ref – your name)
  • PayPal – email Jackie for invoice

Receipt of payment

  • Will be emailed once story and payment have been received.


  • 1stprize
    • A Rhyming MS edit to the value of $105
    • A copy of “Rhyme Like the Experts”
    • 12 months subscription to PASS IT ON
    • A set of five (5) picture books
  • 2ndprize
    • A Rhyming MS edit to the value of $70
    • A copy of “Rhyme Like the Experts”
    • 12 months subscription to PASS IT ON
    • One (2) picture books
  • 3rdprize
    • A Rhyming MS edit to the value of $35
    • A copy of “Rhyme Like the Experts”
    • 12 months subscription to PASS IT ON
    • One (1) picture book



Posted in Uncategorized


congratsToday I am thrilled to announce the winners of my inaugural Rhyming Poetry or Verse Stories for Children Competiton but before I do I would like to thank everyone who sent in entries (there were 82 in all). I’ve had so much fun reading through them all but of course, as with any competition there can only be three place getters and here they are…


First Place goes to Sylvia Forbes for Holly’s Runaway Lolly.

Second Place goes to Val Neubecker for Little Miss Muffett.

Third Place goes to Maura Finn for Grandma Murphy’s Pussy Cat.

So a HUGE congratulations to the winners and a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who entered, your stories and poems were an absolute joy to read.

**As a side note I have to say that unfortunately I am unable to give feedback on your poems and stories however if you would like a manuscript edit I would like to offer non-winning entrants a discounted rate. Please contact me if you would like to take advantage of this offer.**

Happy Rhyming everyone 🙂


Posted in meter, Poetry, rhyme, rhythm, stress, Writing

Writing in Rhyme Tip 4 – The Anapaest


Last time I talked about a type of meter called the IAMB.

Today I am going to talk about the ANAPAEST.

To use ‘dancing’ as a metaphor for meter, the iamb might be likened to a march da DUM, da DUM, da DUM, etc where the anapaest would be a waltz da da DUM, da da DUM, da da DUM, da da DUM.

Seuss was particularly fond of this type of meter and many of his verse stories are written this way.

The first story in Dr. Seuss’ Book of Bedtime Stories is called Dr. Seuss’ Sleep Book. Here is the first verse.




The news just came in

From the County of Keck

That a very small bug

By the name of Van Vleck

Is yawning so wide

You can see down his neck.


When we pop this into a syllable grid here’s what we can see..


The news just came in from the Coun ty of Keck
That a ve ry small bug by the name of Van Vleck
Is yaw ning so wide you can see down his neck


And here’s the first verse from Horton Hears a Who!


On the fifteenth of May in the Jungle of Nool

In the heat of the day in the cool of the Pool

He was splashing…enjoying the jungle’s great joys…

When Horton the elephant heard a small noise


On the fif teenth of May in the Jun gle of Nool
In the heat of the day in the cool of the Pool
He was splash ing en joy ing the jun gle’s great joys
When Hor ton the el e phant heard a small noise


As you can see, the pattern is quite distinct. Each line contains 4 stressed syllables separated by two unstressed ones.

In the last line we’re introduced to Horton the elephant. Here are some other characters that would fit the meter…


Shirley the crocodile

Martin the Terrier

Freddy the butterfly


Here are some that don’t…


Frank the mongoose

Jacqueline the chook

Marmaduke the Great White Shark


And here’s why…


Shirley the crocodile

Martin the terrier

Freddy the butterfly


When Shir ley the croc o dile heard a small noise
When Mar tin the te rri er heard a small noise
When Fre ddy the butt er fly heard a small noise


Frank the mongoose

Jacqueline the chook

Marmaduke the Great White Shark


When Hor ton the el e phant heard a small noise  
When Frank the mon goose heard a small noise      
When Jac que line the chook heard a small noise    
When Mar ma duke the Great White Shark heard a small noise


If I really wanted to use the name Jacqueline this is how I could do it and stay true to the meter…


When Jacqueline chicken perceived a small noise.


When Hor ton the el e phant heard a small noise
When Jac que line chick en per ceived a small noise


Okay I’ll leave it there.


Happy rhyming 🙂


Posted in meter, Poetry, rhyme, rhythm, stress

Writing in Rhyme Tip 3 – Meter


Today’s tip looks at METER.

Meter is the the pattern created by the ordering of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of verse.

Here is what some Australian publishers of Children’s books had to say when asked the question…

What are the most common difficulties that writers in rhyme encounter?

They haven’t got a sense of timing – rhythm or flow.

Metre metre, metre! So few submissions have pleasing, easy metre. Read your poem aloud. Do you have to work hard to fit your words into your metre? Do you adjust the stress on ANY of thewords (i.e. do you say them differently to the way you say them in natural speech)? Rewrite those lines!! I cannot emphasise enough how important metre is to poetry.

They think the rhyme excuses a whole lot of other flaws, including poor rhymes. Rhyming is a subtle and complex art that deserves years of study and then you have to make it work for children and then in a picture book format. You need a great story first and one that works for children, which has a proper beginning, middle and end.

Bad rhythm and forced rhyme. There should be no extra words to get the rhythm to work ‘such as the lion did say” instead of ‘said’ or reversals of words to get the rhyme, ie  ‘lion blue’ to rhyme with ‘you’ instead of blue lion. In other words the rhyme has to be very natural. The other thing to bear in mind is that many people don’t have a natural sense of rhythm anyway, and read rhyme and the emphasis on the words differently. The rhyme has to be very consistent to avoid such differences. The other thing I find is that the necessity to rhyme often means that the story goes in different directions when inexperienced writers attempt to write rhyme, so there can be dead spots in the story or extraneous material (if that makes sense). It is very difficult to get good succinct rhyme which keeps to the storyline. Rhyme that works better is when writers are not trying to write rhyming couplets, but stick to a simple repetitive couplet such as ‘I went walking. What did you see. I saw a red cow looking at me.’  Or ‘Let’s go visiting what do you say. Two black kittens are ready to play.’

Rhythms and rhymes that are “not quite there”.

To help us understand what exactly this thing called METER is I am going to engage the help of two very famous children’s authors, Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss.

In front of me I have two books, one by Roald Dahl called Dirty Beasts.

The other by Dr. Seuss called Dr. Seuss’s Book of Bedtime Stories. Both are collections of stories written in rhyme and both, quite frankly, are brilliant!

I’m going to begin with Roald Dahl’s book, Dirty Beasts to help explain a type of meter known as the IAMB.

Dirty Beasts

The very first story, in the book is called The Pig and here are the first four lines..


In England once there lived a big

And wonderfully clever pig.

To everybody it was plain

That Piggy had a massive brain


When we insert this verse into a “syllables grid” and we bold the stressed syllables, this is the pattern that emerges…

In Eng land once there lived a big
And won der fu lly cle ver pig
To eve ry bo dy it was plain
That Pi ggy had a ma ssive brain

Iambic meter then, is the the rhythm created by alternating one unstressed syllable and one stressed syllable –

|da DUM | da DUM | da DUM | da DUM | with each da DUM chunk being called a FOOT.

Each of Dahl’s lines contain 4 iambic feet so the verse above is written in iambic tetrameter.

Now every one of Dahl’s stories and there are nine in this collection, is written in iambic tetrameter so if this is a meter that you enjoy I would encourage you to read every one of them.

I will leave you with the first four lines of the final story in the collection called The Tummy Beast


Once afternoon I said to mummy,

“Who is this person in my tummy?

“He must be small and very thin

Or how could he have gotten in?”


Next time we will explore the meter known as the ANAPAEST, a favourite of Dr. Seuss.

Until then, happy rhyming 🙂

Posted in meter, Poetry, rhyme, rhythm, stress, Verbs

Writing in Rhyme Tip 2 – Stress



So today’s tip focuses on syllable stress and the easiest way to do that, I think, is to look at words known as heteronyms.

A heteronym is…, according to the definition found on The Heteronym Page

…a word that has the same spelling as another word but with a different pronunciation and meaning.

The words that I’d like to concentrate on are the ones whose definition changes according the position of the stress placed upon it.

Here are some examples.


If you stress the first syllable DEZ-urt – you are describing a dry, baron place.

If you stress the second syllable di-ZURT – this is a verb meaning to abandon.

Following is a couplet that looks like it should rhyme but it does not. Why doesn’t it?


I feel that I must now assert

That Simpson’s a sandy desert

If we bold the syllables, that in natural speech, are stressed, we’ll find that a pattern emerges.


i FEEL that i MUST now aSSERT

That SIMPson’s a SANdy DESert

Can you see the problem?

The pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables has been disrupted.

The previously established pattern (stressed, unstressed, unstressed, stressed, unstressed unstressed, stressed) requires the reader to mispronounce the word “desert” so that the stress falls on the second syllable.

While this scenario is unlikely I think it highlights a common problem when writing in rhyme.

Another example that I use in my book “Rhyme Like the Experts” may help to clarify the issue.


Mary, Mary, quite contrary
Filled her mouth with one strawberry

So in order for this to rhyme, the writer needs the reader to mispronounce the word “strawberry” so that it sounds like this… strawBEHrry to rhyme with conTRAHry.

What I urge all writers of rhyme to do is to get their work read aloud by someone else. A fresh eye will immediately pick up where the writer has manipulated a word to fit the meter. The new reader will read the words as they would in natural speech and will trip up if the pattern is disrupted due to the stress position of certain words.

Clear as mud?

If you have any questions, please post them below in the comments section.

Happy rhyming :-)


Posted in Uncategorized

Writing in Rhyme Tip 1 – Syllables





During the weeks preceding the COMPETITION deadline (14th December) I will be offering tips to wouldbe entrants.

Today’s tip focuses on the strange creature known as the SYLLABLE.

When you google “syllable” here’s what you might find…

A syllable is the sound of a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) that’s created when pronouncing a word.

This definition can be found on a website called How Many Syllables and if you click on the link you can discover how many syllables any word has.

Here’s another explanation taken from a site called Pronunciation Tips.

English words are made up of syllables. Syllables are distinct sounds within a word. All syllables have a vowel sound in them, and usually have a consonant between it and the next syllable. A word may have one, two, three, four, or more syllables. 

In the English language words range from having 1 syllable – 12 syllables (there aren’t many 12 syllable words).

1 syllable – ape

2 syllables – apple

3 syllables – aggravate

4 syllables – absolutely

5 syllables – accumulation

6 syllables – acclimatization

7 syllables – antidiscrimination

8 syllables – autosuggestibility

9 syllables – antiferromagnetically

10 syllables – antidisestablishmentarian

11 syllables – antidisestablishmentarianist

12 syllables – antidisestablishmentarianism

If we were to deconstruct the last (and longest word) to highlight each syllable this is how we might do it.

  an ti dis i stab lish men ta ri an is m
syllable sound a i i i a i e a i a i u
syllable number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12


Writing in rhyme is a musical business with each line driven by its rhythm.

Each syllable takes up a beat in time and what we will learn tomorrow is that certain syllables take more time than others. This is what determines the meter.

If you have any questions, please post them below in the comments section.

Happy rhyming 🙂