PICTURE BOOK KNOWHOW To rhyme or not to rhyme?

In this new series of Picture Book KnowHow, Kim Nye, editor at Maverick Arts Publishing, shares her tips on the big questions that plague us when we start thinking about picture books. This week she asks the ultimate question: to rhyme or not to rhyme?

As an editor publishing picture books, one of the most common questions I get regarding submissions is whether we accept rhyme. The quick answer, at Maverick at least, is ‘yes we do!’ Of course, it is just a little bit more complicated than that...

Everyone loves rhyme!

Put simply, in the UK market rhyme is extremely popular – many of our top authors write in rhyme – don't ignore the Gruffalo in the room – and let’s face it, rhyme, when done well, can turn a story from a good one into a great one. 

So why not always write in rhyme? Well there are a few reasons why you might want to put away that rhyming dictionary...

Spread from Daddy and I by Lou Treleaven - a rhyming picture book. 

It's hard

Let's face it, not everyone can write rhyme. And that's nothing to be ashamed of, rhyme is hard! If it's not your forte, it's best to avoid as bad rhyme will mask a good story as well as make publishers cringe. An editor can help improve a rhyming text, but it's a challenging task as changing one word can end up changing the whole verse.

Language isn't universal

A lot of publishers make their bread and butter by selling translation rights and co-editions to other countries. A foreign publisher may not even consider a rhyming book but if they do then they will either have to translate it into prose or translate the rhyme into their own language – which is no easy task!

The Snowflake Mistake by Lou Treleaven has sold foreign rights in rhyme. 

So what to do? To rhyme or not to rhyme? My advice is always to write your story in both. It's a great writing exercise and you might discover something you weren't expecting. After trying it both ways, you'll know if rhyme is for you and you'll know which version to submit. 

And a bonus handy hint

Never rearrange the natural order of a sentence to suit your rhyme! 

*Header image from Daddy and I by Lou Treleaven – a rhyming picture book.

Kim Nye is editor at Maverick Arts Publishing. She also a designer, IT expert and a jack-of-all trades. Just don't ask her to do maths! You can submit picture book stories to Kim here. (Read the guidelines!)


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