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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?
WRITING IN RHYME!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.