Friday, August 04, 2006

Hope Vestergaard (and the Whole Rhyme Thing)...

I've been to many many many children's writing conferences over the last 15 years and I don't think I've ever been to one during which someone didn't raise her hand and say: "Why don't editors like rhyme? I hear so many editors say don't send rhyming manuscripts." So I had a feeling there would be a good turnout for Hope Vestergaards's session Rhyming Right--Creating Stories that March, Lilt and Dance off the Page.

In her session, Hope answered the above question (and for those of you who have also been to many many many writing conferences you've surely heard this before). Editors in fact do not hate rhyme. They just hate bad rhyme (unless you're Katie Couric or Billy Crystal. Well, they probably still hate bad rhyme from celeb children's authors, but they'll publish them anyway.)

Hope talked about just what makes bad rhyme bad--things like forced not-really-rhyming end rhymes (again and rain) and meter problems (from meter that's inconsistent to meter that's redundant and monotonous). She also got the say onomatopoeia a few times.

The highlight of this breakout session was hearing examples of good and bad rhyming books and poetry. Good: a lovely, fun poem by A.A. Milne. Bad: Billy Crystal and Katie Couric. This is certainly an exercise aspiring rhymers can do themselves. Read some good rhymers aloud (Hope's list includes Mary Ann Hoberman, Lisa Wheeler, J. Patrick Lewis and Alice Schertle among others). Then do the same for some celeb-penned titles. Wow. Now read your own work aloud--or better yet, have someone else read it to you. Hope recommends this as a way to catch stumbling spots. She also advises: "Read a hundred good rhyming books before you write one."

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