I am so excited to welcome our May 12 x 12 featured author, Debbie Diesen! Two of her books, The Pout-Pout Fish and its companion, The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big Big Dark, are two of my kids’ all-time favorite picture books. My son asks me to read one or the other of them (if not both) at least once a week. Furthermore, Debbie is one of my rhyming heroes. She can wield that meter like nobody’s business. So you can imagine how excited I was when she offered to do a post on the nitty-gritty of rhyming! I’m here to tell you that this will be one of the best blog tutorials EVER on the art of writing in rhyme. And last, but not least, she hails from Michigan – my home state. What more could you want in an author? A critique from her, you say? Well, one lucky 12 x 12 participant is going to win just that! See the end of this post for instructions on entering. Now, please welcome Debbie!

The Beat Goes On — Or, How To Be A Meter Reader: Identifying Rhythm Troublespots In Your Rhyming Picture Book Story

I love to write in rhyme.  Who doesn’t?  Writing in rhyme combines the joy of story, the fun of words, and the delight of music, all in one.

But writing in rhyme can be exceedingly frustrating.  Frustration usually crops up early in the writing process, because it’s challenging to carry through a story idea in a rhyming format without resorting to sentence structure gymnastics and/or Lame Rhymes.  But often the bigger load of frustration arrives just when you think you’re done:  when you discover that, despite your countless hours of work, the word song you hear in your head hasn’t translated to the page.

Maybe your critique group tells you, “something’s wrong in the second stanza” or “that refrain doesn’t sound right to me.”  What?  I thought it was perfect!  Or maybe an editor tells you, “this doesn’t quite scan.”  Yet try as you might, you can’t pinpoint what it is they’re not getting.  To your ear, it flows effortlessly!  Why does it sound so different when someone else reads it?

If you’re in this situation (and we’ve all been there; in fact, that’s pretty much where I live…), what you will need to do is detach for a while from your storyline, and focus instead on the mechanics of your story’s rhythm.  To do this, you’ll need a baton (and, optionally, a drum corps shako), a pen, a highlighter, and a colored pencil.

Let’s get down to work, shall we?

1.  Find your inner band leader 

To get started identifying problems with your rhyming story’s meter, grab your baton, step back from your story for a moment, and think about the rhythm that defines it.  Go ahead and use the baton.  If you don’t know what to do with it, just flail it around a little.  Snap your fingers.  Tap your toes.  Sing.  Hum.  Whatever works for you.

Your story may have more than one defining rhythm (for instance, one rhythm for the verses, and one for the refrain), but generally speaking, you’ll have one main identifiable rhythm structure.  As you wield your baton, ask yourself:  How many accented beats do I have in a phrase?  How many nonstressed syllables do I have between accented beats?  Do my phrases start on an accented beat, or on an unaccented syllable?

Maybe your rhythm (numbers showing the accented beats) is…

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

Or perhaps it’s…

1 and-a 2 and-a 3 and-a 4 and-a

Or it could be…

1 ee-and-a 2 ee-and-a 3 ee-and-a 4 ee-and-a

Or maybe…

and-a-1 and-a-2 and-a-3 and-a-4

Or, instead of 1s, 2s, 3s, and 4s, you might have just 1s and 2s.  Or maybe 1s and 2s and 3s.  Or maybe you have regular variation between –ands and –ee-and-as.  When you look at all the variations, the possibilities are nearly endless.  But you don’t have to contemplate every possible rhythm!  You simply need to identify your story’s rhythm, so that you can commit to it.

Another aspect of your commitment is knowing how your beat loops from line to line.  Is it steady throughout each line of the stanza?  Or do you have a rest beat at the end of your rhyming lines, and/or at the end of the stanza?

For instance, your stanza might sound like:

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

But it could well sound like:

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

1 and 2 and 3. [rest]

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

1 and 2 and 3. [rest]

You may be able to analyze your defining rhythm in a snap, or you may need to invest some time, especially if it’s more complicated than just 1 and 2 and 3 and 4.  But once you’re ready (and/or if you grow tired of wearing your old band uniform) it’s time to…

  1. 2.  Put down your baton and grab a pen.

Once you’re confident of understanding your story’s intended rhythm structure, read your story aloud.  As you go, mark on the page how your ears hear the cadence of the lines you’ve written.

When I do this with my own manuscripts, I use a box around accented beats and an underline under unaccented syllables.  After marking up a line, it might look like this.

[ ]  __    __  [ ]  __    __  [ ]  __    __  [ ]  __    __

(Note:  I haven’t figured out how to make a box symbol in WordPress, so squint a little at each bracket pair to magically transform it into a box.)

When you’re finished marking up your whole story, go back to the beginning.  Ignore the words, and just focus on the boxes and lines.  Read those out loud (using your own choice of sound effects for the two kinds of markings.  I recommend a big booming bass drum sound for the accented beats, while sitting next to an open window; because if you haven’t scared the neighbors yet with your quirky writer habits, isn’t it about time?).

As you “read” your rhythm out loud, how does it sound without the words?  Think about the rhythm that you identified as being the defining rhythm of your story (in Step 1).  Are you actually carrying out the rhythm you had in mind?  Are there slight inconsistencies?  Big inconsistencies?  Are there places you fall into a different rhythm entirely?  As you identify spots where your story’s beat doesn’t carry through exactly as you meant it to, you may have found places in need of revision.

However, a word of caution:  Some rhythms allow for – to my mind, even demand — a bit of wiggle room in terms of unaccented syllables.  Small variations that don’t interfere with the overall rhythm but do tweak it a bit to highlight and elongate certain spots in the text can sometimes actually benefit your story.  To explain what I mean, let’s look at the first stanza of my story The Pout-Pout Fish.  It reads as follows:

Deep in the water

Where the fish hang out

Lives a glum, gloomy swimmer

With an ever-present pout.

The meter of this stanza is not flawless.   Though my defining beat structure centers around a [ ]  __    __   __  rhythm, in fact, there are  also  [ ]  __    __   beats and even a  [ ]  __   beat.  To keep to the [ ]  __    __   __    perfectly, I’d need something along the lines of:

Deep down in the water where the ocean fish hang out, there lives a glum and gloomy swimmer with an everpresent pout.

Does that revision scan better?  Arguably, Yes.  A computer voice could read it and not miss a beat.  But for a human, is it as fun to say?  For me, the answer is No.  In its unrelenting adherence to regular meter, it sounds annoyingly sing-songy.  Plus it takes away the fun of popping out and holding certain words, like “deep” and “fish.”

So, as in all things, you as the writer must be the best judge of what works for your story.

But while you’re contemplating that, it’s time to:

3.  Put down your pen and find a highlighter.

Go back to the beginning of your manuscript.  Use the same copy that you marked up with the boxes and lines, but ignore them for now.  Instead, focus on the words that are more than one syllable.  With your highlighter, highlight each multisyllabic word’s accented syllable.  (In a few cases, you may have a word with two accented syllables.)  Do not highlight any of the single syllable words.

Put your highlighter down.  (It’s OK to still be wearing your shako.)  Now go page by page, and look at each highlighted segment.

Do the highlighted spots all have boxes around them from the previous step?  That is, do the natural stresses in the multisyllabic words you’ve used in your story correspond in fact to the way your ear desires the beat of the story to fall?

If you have places in your story where you have highlighting without a box, these are areas you need to scrutinize.  They might be trouble.  You may be asking the impossible of your reader:  to ignore a word’s stressed syllable, perhaps in order to put the beat on the word’s unstressed syllable.  Definitely not recommended.

But again, this problem-identification method comes with a cautionary note:  Though these spots may well be problem spots for your story, don’t assume in all cases that you’ve got a clunker!  For instance, in my stanza above, the phrase “glum, gloomy swimmer”, which my ear hears as  [ ]  __    __   [ ]  __,   would show highlighting not only in the “swim-” box but also on the underlined, unaccented “gloo-.”  Potential problem for my rhythm, right?  I don’t want an accented beat on “gloo-.”  But in the actual context of the stanza, most readers do not give any particular stress to “gloo-” when reading aloud.  To my knowledge, it hasn’t tripped anybody up.

So you don’t necessarily need to change all, or even any, of the highlighted-but-not-boxed spots you find.  That said, you should scrutinize them very carefully.  Depending on what your basic rhythm structure is, these places have the potential to derail your cadence entirely.

Finished with that?  Now go back through again.  This time, look at all the boxed spots that don’t have highlighting.  Boxed spots without highlighting are places where you’re expecting your reader to put the beat – but the words themselves don’t demand it.  In many cases, your reader will have no trouble putting the beat in the right spot, especially if the words are in the latter half of a line or in a later part of the story, after your rhythm has been very clearly established.  But if you’ve got a long string of single syllable words at the beginning of your story or at the beginning of a line, your reader may flounder to find your drum beat.  Worse yet, left to his or her own devices, your reader might put stress in a place that you didn’t expect, which will throw off the rhythm of the entire line, perhaps even the whole stanza.   So go through all of these areas carefully.  They are potential danger zones that may need more cueing (through use of multisyllabic words that provide ready-made stress spots) for your reader.

At this point, you’re nearly done – but you still have one more sweep to do.

4.  Last but absolutely not least…

In a rhyming story, your rhymes must pass rhythm muster!  Go back through your story one last time, this time with your colored pencil, and circle all your end rhymes.  Scrutinize each rhyming set, keeping in mind that to rhyme rhythmically, it’s not enough that the words end with the same final syllable sound.  Instead, the last stressed syllable and everything that comes after the last stressed syllable must rhyme.

For instance, though the word “bunny”  has an -ee sound at the end, it’s not enough to have a rhyme for just the –ee sound.  Bunny does not rhyme with chickadee, even though they both end with an –ee sound.  Your rhyme must include the UN- sound (which has the stress) and the –ee.  Think funny, sunny, money, etc.

A good rhyming dictionary, such as The New Comprehensive American Rhyming Dictionary by Sue Young, can guide you through finding fun and rhythmically appropriate rhymes to use in your story.

Final Thoughts

 I hope these tips may be of some help to you in pinpointing potential rhythm troublespots in your rhyming story.  But remember that they aren’t offered prescriptively.  These are not rules you must adhere to.  Instead they are simply tools to add your toolbelt and use as needed.

Further, I’m quite sure that if you look you’ll be able to find much better explanations of scansion techniques, written by folks with much more knowledge of the ins and outs of poetic meter than I have.  These you should seek out and add to your toolbelt as well.

Because the more you know, the more confidently you can hold your baton.

And the better you keep the beat, the more gloriously your story will sing!

Debbie Diesen lives in Michigan with her husband and two children. She is the author of three rhyming picture books — The Pout-Pout FishThe Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark), and The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered, Baby Brigade. You can find Debbie at her website, her blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Participants – to enter to win a critique from Debbie, you must be an official challenger and leave a comment on this post (INCLUDING YOUR FIRST AND LAST NAME) any time during the month of May for one point.  On May 31st, l’ll put a check-in post on the blog.  If you completed a picture book draft in May, you can let us know in the comments of that post for another point.  I will draw a winner using Random.org and announce on June 2nd.

Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Authors, Giveaway, Goals, Guest Blogging, Picture Books, Rhyming, SCBWI, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,



  1. Yes, I know, it is time for bed for us Coloradans…what are you doing up, Julie? 🙂

    But just as I was shutting down
    Your post popped up…I went to town
    And read the whole thing sans a frown
    Ms. Diesen gets the rhyming crown!

    Sorry…I couldn’t resist. 🙂 What an awesome post…thank you so much, Debbie, for this amazing, helpful and humorous tutorial. I’ve always loved rhyming…this will help me to do a better job. And I will check out the resource for rhyming…I am truly out of the loop…never knew there was such a book…I’ve just limped along the old-fashioned way. 🙂

    Vivian Kirkfield aka The Rhymer Who Knows Better Now

  2. This a fantastic post! Thank you Debbie and Julie. Just in time as I wrote my April Draft at 4pm yesterday…in rhyme. It needs this help. Thanks again.
    Melissa Mead

  3. A master class in rhyme
    in a single groovy post!
    Thanks to Debbie Diesen
    and to Julie, lovely host.

    Debbie, I LOVE how you explain scansion and meter, complete with visuals. And your techniques for combing through the ms are terrific. I do many of these things when I score a poem for reading aloud (and yes, I do get up and “conduct” the poem with a pen!), an exercise that usually ends up revealing weaknesses in my meter. I’m glad you noted that the rhythm doesn’t always have to be perfect to work, but we do have to be sure those “imperfect” spots aren’t going to trip anyone up.

    Fabulous post, excellent advice.

    Renee LaTulippe

  4. Wow, this is arguably the most helpful post I have read on scansion, rhythm and rhyme…. I do already do some drum beating, but this took me a step further! I am also very happy to note that it isn’t always about perfect computer-recognizable beat, but it is about how does the story sound to both reader and listener. And, as a fairly new rhymer, I confess #4 was new to me! I am going to be reposting this all over, as it is such practical advice. Thank you.

  5. Oh, Debbie, thank you so much! I have a rhyming story that I just can’t get right. Maybe now I’ll be able to see where I’m going wrong. Great lesson. *Tightens buckle on her tool belt* Let the rhyming begin!!! Thanks Julie! You rock woman! 🙂

    Robyn Campbell

  6. Now this is some power tools! Thanks, Debbie ;~D

  7. I’m with Lori! 🙂 I don’t think I would ever be able to explain how meter works or perhaps I never really knew the technicalities of it. Thanks for breaking it down for us.

  8. Thank you, all of you, for your kind words! Writing this post was a learning experience for me, because I’d never written about my methods before. I learned a lot by thinking through and writing down. Writing the post also served as a good reminder that I need to heed my own advice! I’ll admit to sometimes over-relying on my ear for rhythm, and getting it wrong. Writing truly is a learn and then RE-learn and then try again process – but a process that’s made easier and more enjoyable by the supportive and active writing community in which it takes place. Thank you for your comments, and a huge thanks to Julie for hosting me today!

  9. Yes, Julie, your blog rocks!

  10. Jennifer Young

    Love your books Debbie! This is the best advice I’ve read about rhyming and rhythm Julia and Debbie. You broke everything down in such a clear and understandable way. Thank you!! This is definitely going to be bookmarked.

  11. Stacy S. Jensen

    I’m printing this out to study. Thanks. Stacy s. Jensen

  12. Thanks for the step-by-step, Debbie! I like your advice of going through reading just the rhythm first and then adding the words. And making sure the neighbors know you’re a writer is hilarious!
    ~Tina Cho

  13. This is better than going to school…. Thanks, Debbie, for your great tips on rhythm and rhyme. I just think of it as the beat to the story. When I write for the local paper I’m on the community beat. When I write a story for kids, I’ve gotta find the right beat for that, too.

  14. Thanks for breaking it down.
    Mary Jo Guglielmo

  15. I used to loathe wearing my shako, until I realized that there was all kinds of storage room above the adjustable crown for necessities like extra gloves, dry socks, a sandwich, tissues, etc.

    Debbie has given us all lots of great necessities to tuck inside our writers’ shakos for making sure the beat goes on smoothly in our rhyming MS! Terrific post – will no doubt be referenced aside Chaconas and Fox for all rhymers to reference. Thank you!

  16. Such a great post! It was everything in a nutshell. Thank you!

  17. Wonderful! I’m going to “test” my manuscripts and see how they hold up to this wonderful advice 🙂 This really made sense!

  18. That was fantastic, I am so thrilled to hear that you have to choose if it is sensible to stick religiously to the meter if it doesn’t sit right with the story. This is priceless rhyming help, thanks so much.
    Catherine Johnson

  19. Hmmm….seems I’m not so great at following directions. I need to leave my first and last name.
    Penny Klostermann

  20. On the heels of National Poetry month comes this fantastic post. I don’t know that I’ll ever move to writing in rhyme, but I’ve recently been inspired to try a picture book in free verse. Thanks for this helpful post! Kirsten W. Larson

  21. First of all, Debbie, I *love* The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark (I love your other books, too, but that one particularly speaks to me.) Thank you so much for this clear and mirth-provoking look at how to write in rhythm and rhyme. I even learned a new word, “shako.” As a singer and pianist, rather than a band member, that one was a new one for me. I don’t write in rhyme (except when I’m writing hymns, but a hymn is a rather different critter than a picture book) but I still found this very helpful.

    Thank you, Debbie and Julie!

    Beth Stilborn

  22. I am continually amazed by the resources of 12×12! Thank you, Debbie, for this educational post. I am not a rhymer. I love rhymes, but never felt equipped to try a story although I’ve had a story nagging me for attention. It started out to accidentally rhyme – when I noticed I went wow-how fun and better than normal.. But then the doubter in me said, ‘you can’t do this–you’re not a poet.’ BUT thanks to your tutorial – I feel more equipped to try. Thanks again and thank you Julie. Blessings to you both.

  23. Thanks, Debbie. Great information given with a bit of humor tossed in. I’m going to save this to share with students in my writing workshops, if you don’t mind.
    — Carol Munro

  24. Awesome post! I love rhyming, but do it terribly…so hopefully this will help. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing.

  25. I think Debbie’s post covered everything I want in a good, rhyming PB, so I’ll skip reading anything else and go straight to my manuscript. Which needs a few boxes and highlighting. Thanks!

  26. Deb, great post! One thing I also do is to mark my beats on a transparency sheet and then overlay that onto my stanzas to see which ones are not behaving. Hugs!
    Shutta Crum

  27. Tracey Berglund

    so helpful, experience + intuition + logic + humor = great post for all
    thank you!

    Tracey Berglund

  28. Great post! Rhyme and meter are soooo difficult for me. Nice to have helpful tips.

  29. Wonderful! Great post… thank you so much!

  30. Debbie, I love your books, and this was a very helpful post. Thanks so much. I’m willing to bet you have a background in music as well. 🙂
    -Hannah Holt

  31. Wow! Now I know what it is like for a non-techie to read my techie posts. Your tutorial was awesome. My head is spinning. I must admit I wasn’t able to comprehend all of the post, but will definitely be bookmarking this for when I have the courage to write a rhyming picture book. Thanks Debbie!

    Darshana Khiani

  32. Thanks, Debbie. This is a great explanation of meter and rhyme. I do a lot of writing at the library and I’m sure people think I’m crazy when they see me staring at my computer muttering DUM-da-DUM-da-DUM-da-DUM. Good to know I’m not the only one scaring away passers-by!
    Carrie Finison

  33. Hi Debbie! What a fantastic post! I’ve never read anything better on how to write in rhyme.Thank you so much! And thank you, Julie for posting this! I need to echo what you’ve been seeing above as well. I am a fan of your books!
    ~Jennifer Kirkeby

  34. Wow! Great post, Debbie. And what a great offer!
    And thanks, Julie. If I needed incentive to get the May draft done, the extra point may be it! Writing in rhyme is so much fun and I am so bad at it.

  35. Brilliant, Debbie. I’ve copied and put it in a file, so I can strive to be Debbie Diesen when I grow up.

  36. MASTER CLASS. Unreal. Thank you Debbie and Julie!
    Carter Higgins

  37. Marking and measuring like this would never have occurred to me, but I can’t wait to try it with a couple of poems that I SWEAR are perfect, and probably are SO not! Thanks!

    Genevieve Petrillo

  38. Fantastic post! So helpful – thank you!!!!

  39. This post is just amazing and will be so helpful… as soon as I find my baton!! I can’t wait to really delve into some rhyme manuscripts that have been waiting for this kind of medicine. Thank you so much Debbie (& Julie for bringing her to us).

  40. it makes so much sense! Great post!

  41. Thank you Debbie. I so appreciate your point about “wiggle room” and the example you gave from Pout-Pout Fish. It’s certainly important to keep a steady, consistent meter, but allowing important words to breathe and elongate can add life to a stanza that’s too nailed down. Cheers!
    Tim McCanna

  42. Wow, Debbie. I’m with Darshana on this one. If I ever write a rhyming picture book, you’ll be my go-to source on how to catch the rhythm. THANKS!
    Karen Kallis Cheesman

  43. Great post — thank you Debbie and Julie. Perfect timing too, as I have a rhyming PB manuscript (my first ever) that I want to test.
    Margaret Greanias

  44. This post will no doubt inspire rhyming writers. (Hey, that almost rhymed! ;)) Thanks for another great post, Julie! Best wishes to both of you.

  45. This step-by-step how to is just what a beginner needs. Understanding this is going to take some time. I wrote a rhyming story and now see how misguided and arrogant I was. However, this has given me a point by point attack. Julie thank you for having Debbie share these amazing tips. Your blog is such a resource. Debbie thank you for your generous sharing. This is invaluable.
    Pam Courtney

  46. I have bookmarked this post for later dissection! Thank you to Debbie for sharing her methods!
    -Eric VanRaepenbusch

  47. Kelly McDonald

    this was excellent. I cant help but write in rhyme…. it just happens, and this was a great help. I shall be copy, pasting, and placing in my .’help’ folder. Thank you very very much!! going to pinch my sons plastic police baton….
    Kelly McDonald

  48. Oh my goodness, what a great post. I’m not a rhyming writer, but this is inspiring me to at least rhyme SOMEthing.

  49. Rhyming is such an issue for me. I’ve been searching all over the web for tutorials. I even tried to look for books. Thanks for taking the time to explain it.

  50. I left a comment yesterday which doesn’t seem to have stayed with the flock, so I’m commenting again! Great post – very informative and educational! Thanks so much, Debbie and Julie! (And Debbie, I LOVE The Pout-Pout Fish! :))

    Susanna Hill

  51. I could really use a critique of one of my rhyming stories. I LOVE writing in rhyme, and when I wrote in rhyme more regularly, it came naturally to me and flowed perfectly. However, I have spent the past year concentrating more on YA and adult fiction, so my rhyming stories were put aside. This year, I have several picture books I have written in rhyme and I know they all need so much work! I can feel, as I am writing them, the fact that my rhyming isn’t coming as easily to me or flowing as smoothly onto the page as it used to.

  52. Wow, Debbie! Thanks so much for a thorough and informative piece–you’ve helped me feel like I *can* tackle those mss. now–they’ve been sitting untouched for two weeks since my latest critique. I greatly appreciate the step-by-step coaching.
    Lisa Rogers

  53. Great pick for May. I remember when the librarian held a book fair at my old school and she discovered this new book. She stood there reading and laughed out loud. She bought it!

    Julie, I LOVE your new website and blog. Very colorful and easy to navigate! You have been very busy. Great job!

  54. Thanks for this post! And the new site looks great!

  55. Thank you, Debbie, for sharing such fabulous ideas, and thank you, Julie, for sharing Debbie!
    -Jan O’Neil

  56. I really liked the band metaphor with the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 in section 1. So much fun! For section 2 and 3, another tip is to read the story backwards. It helps to hear each line for itself and not get “stuck” in the rhythm. Another tool for the toolbox…

  57. Jarm Del Boccio

    Debbie…this is a complete course on poetry writing. Thanks so much! I will be bookmarking this to share, and for my own reference…

    Jarm Del Boccio


  58. Thank you Debbie, this is amazingly helpful! I can’t wait to try this out on my rhyming ms! And thank you Julie for the interview!

    Dana Atnip

  59. This is an article to keep for its detail and obvious rhyming love. 🙂 I’ve printed it off for future reference. Thank you very much for your willingness to be so generous in sharing this information, Debbie, and for taking time to write this post.

    Julie, I think your new website is going to work out just fine. It seems very well organized. 🙂

    – Lynn A. Davidson

  60. Fantastic and inspiring post! Thanks so much Debbie!

  61. Wow, what an amazing post! Very cool of Debbie to share so much of her rhyming knowledge. Someday I hope to try my hand at a rhyming manuscript.

    Jennifer Rumberger

  62. I really enjoyed reading about Debbie Diesen. I found what she had to say about rhythm in poetry very interesting. I learned a lot. Thanks Julie for having Debbie as a guest on your post. 🙂

  63. I love this post! The specific techniques are fantastic. Thank you, Debbie.

    Erin Pearson

  64. Great post Ms. Hedlund and Ms. Diesen! I learned a lot about rhyming in books with this post Ms. Diesen!

  65. Beth Gallagher

    Fabulous post! Writing in rhyme is really satisfying but very difficult. Thanks for yet another great post full of inspiration!

    ~Beth Gallagher

  66. Wow. Debbie, thanks. Julie, thanks. FREE writer’s workshops, right here delivered to our inbox.
    Who has it better than this? Priceless information…
    here in the the wonderful world of 12 x 12 in 12.

  67. Fantastic post! Thanks so much for going into such excellent and useful detail.

  68. Thanks for the post. I also love writing in rhyme (my next picture book is in rhyme)-as long as it’s right for the story. I’ll look out for your books over here in sunny (?) England.
    Thanks, Clare
    (Juliet Clare Bell).

  69. Patricia Nozell


    Thanks so much for sharing such practical advice! Just what this struggling rhyming wanna-be needs; this will definitely help improve my TS Eliot-inspired May draft!

    And many thanks to you, Julie, for sharing Debbie with us!

    Patricia Nozell

  70. Thank you so much. I love reading rhyming picture books and there are times when just want to write a book in rhyme – usually I convince myself not to…but I do have one I’m working on that I am going to use these steps on.

    Thank you for this fantastic resource.

    Kim Mounsey

  71. Thanks for this post! I am not a rhymer and this proves why…its hard!!! But your inspiration is contagious. Might at least sit down to write something in rhyme as a challenge. 🙂

  72. Thanks for a great post! I LOVE rhyming books, but man are they hard to get right. Thanks again for the inspiration! 😀

  73. Thanks, I needed that. My creative heart is screaming, “Rhyme, rhyme, rhyme!” My scaredy cat heart is running away in fear of technical errors. This is a great help. I have printed it to study. Debbie, I love your books. Julie, I love your blog and all your efforts to support other writers. A big thanks to you both.

    Alayne Kay Christian

  74. This is the best explanation of meter I have had yet. I’ve written two rhyming picture books and a book of poetry and while I believed my editors when they said the meter was off, I could not figure out how that had happened. Just how many syllables and where is the stress is SQUIRREL?

    Thanks for a great post.

    Sallie Wolf

  75. Thank you, Debbie. I may now be brave enough to try a rhyming picture book with your excellent advice and techniques. I won’t say it will be any good, but it will be fun to change things up a bit!

    Heather Newman

  76. I love how pointing out the rhythyms this way makes the poem feel sing-song ish. Okay, I now that isn’t a word. It makes the poetry feel and sound like the rythm of a child’s song, thereby making it fun to read. Thank you. I love Pout Pout Fish and this was a fun post.

  77. Great tips for rhyming stories 🙂 This makes it seem not as hard as I thought it would be.

  78. What an awesome post! I did it this month…I dared to rhyme. Thank you for the inspiration.
    Beth Thaler

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