Thursday, August 26, 2010

To Rhyme or not to Rhyme!

As they say, “That is the question.”  I’m a natural rhymer. Picture book ideas come to me in rhyming couplets or quatrains. Sometimes I have to stop myself from creating a new rhyming text.


Because so many editors and agents won’t even look at it. Does it help that I already have a rhyming picture book published? Not really. I can’t submit a rhyming manuscript if editors clearly state they DO NOT want to see one.

So, this summer I have concentrated on “perfecting my picture book prose.” How’s that for alliteration?  I’m learning to cut words and eliminate description, but sometimes those rhymes keep sneaking into the text. Maybe I can get away with them if they are “magic spells” or  “a child’s ditty.”

I’m getting better at this prose picture book writing stuff. My non-rhyming stories used to range in the 1000-1200 word mark. Now, I am happy to say that my latest offerings have consistently been fewer than 750 words, a marked improvement for me.

So, how come all of a sudden I can do this?

  1. I write the story as it comes to me.
  2. I send it to my fabulous critique partners, Lynne and Jenn.
  3. I let it sit for a few weeks while I work on something else.
  4. I revisit the piece and whittle.

I must say it’s still harder for me to write a perfect prose piece than a perfect rhyming piece, but I’m trying. I can turn anything written in prose into a rhyme. It’s much harder to turn a rhyme into prose. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped writing my rhymes, oh no!

Just yesterday a publisher requested to see my latest rhyming picture book text. YAY!

But there is always room for learning new techniques and in this business the more versatile you are, the more chance you have at being successful. So try something new today. Happy writing! J

Friday, August 6, 2010


Shapes are everywhere, flashing circle alarms in your car, triangle signs on road construction, and you wouldn't ski down a diamond slope if you were a beginner.

Shapes have meaning in real life, so too, do they give meaning to your writing. Shapes add a subliminal layer to your story.

Here is a list you might consider either purposely or unconsciously when you are developing a story. Check your WIP for shape descriptions.

ROUND - Imaginative readers perceive round or curling shapes as romantic, passive, soft, organic, indirect, flexible, childish, and in harmony with nature. The circle represents the eternal and the godlike. It has no beginning and it has no end. Think of the sun or the moon, a child's ball, or an orange.

SQUARE - The square represents stability and trustworthiness. It is thought of as direct, industrial, orderly, strict, grown up and linear. The obvious symbol that comes to mind is a house, strong and stable.

TRIANGLE - For obvious reasons this shape designates aggressiveness. Arrows and spears are perfect examples of the triangle's power. Pointed up, they're associated with masculinity, pointed down, femininity.

A well-placed key shape in your manuscript can subconsciously influence how your reader experiences the scene.

Can you think of some examples of shapes in your favorite books?

Energized to Write for the New Year

 So happy to be attending the SCBWI National Conference this week. My peer critiques went well two nights ago, and energized me to see the p...