Today's National Poetry Month post features guest blogger Elliah Terry, a talented author and poet, who joins us today with a little advice for those wanting to write in rhyme.
WRITING IN RHYME: AN ITSY BITSY CRASH COURSE
Many children’s writers wish to write in rhyme. Some writers even mistakenly believe in order for a piece to be for children—it has to rhyme. I’m here to tell you, no. No, it doesn’t. And bad rhyme is much worse than bad prose, in my opinion. So, if you are going to attempt to write a poem or a picture book for children in rhyme (and why not? it’s super fun!) it is a good idea to learn the basics of rhyming. Learning to write in rhyme is like learning a new language. In other words, you aren’t going to learn it all overnight. And you’ll get better as you practice. But here is the quickest course you’ve ever seen on how to do it.
SET-UP: instead of sentences and paragraphs, rhyming poetry is set up using lines and stanzas. Lines are usually short phrases. A stanza is a group of lines in a poem. There is usually an empty line between stanzas.
RHYME SCHEME: is the pattern of rhyming lines. Two of the most common schemes found in children’s literature are
Couplets: There are two lines in a couplet. The 1st and 2nd lines rhyme (wall, fall).
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
Quatrains: There are four lines in a quatrain. The 2nd and 4th lines rhyme (lean, clean.)
Jack Sprat could eat no fat,
his wife could eat no lean.
And so between them both, you see,
They licked the platter clean.
Note: Once you choose a pattern for your poem/story—stick with it throughout the entire piece.
METER: is the rhythmic structure of a line. You can’t just string a bunch of words together, make the ends rhyme, and call it poetry. The words must flow naturally off the reader’s tongue. And that’s where meter comes in. For example:
HUMP ty DUMP ty sat on a WALL *the stressed syllables are in caps
HUMP ty DUMP ty had a great FALL *the meter matches
So there you have it. The basics of writing in rhyme. Now get to it! (And practice, practice, and practice.)