Picture Book rhyme is a hard sell, even when it flows out of one’s pen as naturally as raindrops sliding down rose petals. Submission editors need to be blown away by your rhyming talent to even consider your work.
Some won’t even read rhyming manuscripts anymore because
they can’t stomach one more horrible attempt!
Once you accept that your rhyme is not pure perfection – think about revising it into prose. In most cases, it’s the best course of action if you ever want to see your work traditionally published.
New writers are usually in love with rhyme, and feel that it’s appeal to young children ensures a guaranteed win. They envision themselves as the next Shel Silverstein or Dr. Seuss, but the reality is…those guys stand alone. On a pedestal.
You need to concentrate on becoming the best YOU that you can be.
Can’t let it go???
Read through your rhyming story, looking for good flow from scene to scene. Is there a clear beginning, middle and end to the story? Pay close attention to your phrasing. Beware of rhyme that sounds forced and avoid those pesky, weak adverbs!
Keep in mind that with Picture Books, (wether in rhyme or in prose) illustrations should be used to assist in communicating the story to the reader. Illustrations do not merely mimic the written word (that would be redundant), instead, they add meaning to the story, and show the reader things that can NOT be found in your text.
Writing a story in rhyme sometimes forces authors to use their valuable word count to describe things that will be seen in the illustrations, instead of allowing the reader to hear the characters voices and emotions. If your little readers can’t hear your characters voices, your story is guaranteed to fall flat.
Just for giggles, try rewriting your rhyming story in prose. For many authors who have done this, the gains far outweighed any losses they had anticipated.
In addition, be careful with your word choices, remembering your audience….unsophisticated 4-6 year-olds, just learning to read. YES, there ARE exceptions, but your job is to write for the average kid, who’s looking to be entertained as well as educated.
Finally, put your ego aside. Writing a picture book should never become about what YOU want, or what YOU like. It should be all about what little readers are hungry for, and what publishing editors are seeking. Unique, imaginative, heart-warming stories that peek the imagination and stay with us forever.