Picture book author Dori Chaconas says to write the STORY, then work on the rhythm of your sentences and words, THEN work on the rhymes.
I couldn’t agree more! That’s why I actually start a new picture book project by writing the story in prose with normal paragraphs and punctuation. It may be 1000 to 1500 words long. Way too long for a picture book!
Then I pull out the sentences and phrases I love – those that create images in my head.
Then I get a feel for the dominate rhythm of those sentences. Next I can hone that rhythm by word choices and order.
Next I search for words with internal rhyme – assonance – and repeated consonant sounds – consonance and try to use them strategically.
Lastly I find and plug in words that fit the other criteria AND rhyme for the ends of sentences.
Of course this becomes a cycle. I have to adjust the story, the rhythm, and the rhyme over and over again. When I change one of those elements it almost always means making changes in the other two.
It makes me think of a Rubik’s Cube. To solve the puzzle you must continuously manipulate all six sides throughout the process. When the last little cube snaps into place the puzzle is solved.
Much the same when I’m writing in rhymed verse for children.
So, now that I’ve addressed my own method I want to share with you the advice of some experts on the subject. So, click-click-click your way through these little tutorials on writing in rhymed verse. Have fun with it!
ONLINE SOURCES FOR WRITING IN RHYMED VERSE FOR CHILDREN
On The Guardian by Pip Jones
On The Purple Crayon, by Margot Finke
On WritingWorld.com by Laura Backes
By Dori Chaconas
On Picture Book Den by Juliet Clare Bell