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Rhyme and Meter Clinic with Renee' LaTulippe on KidLit 411

In May I signed on to “KidLit 411 “Rhyme and Meter” with Renee’ LaTulippe. Renee used poems submitted by participants and talked about what worked and what didn’t, and why. She started off with some basic vocabulary.

Meter = stressed and unstressed syllables + metrical feet + metrical lines
A metrical foot = a unit of measurement made up of stressed and unstressed syllables which are repeated in a line of poetry
A metrical line = the number of metrical feet in a single line of poetry

iamb = u/s da Dum
trochee = s/u Dum da
anapest = uu/s da da Dum
dactyl = s/uu Dum da da
spondee = s/s Dum Dum
pyrrhic = u/u da da

truncated foot = leaves off a beat at the end of a line
enjambment = when the end of one line flows into the next—it carries the reader and the story forward

Renee stressed that when writing poetry, you should count stressed feet—NOT syllables.

Rising meters—create an upbeat or happy mood
ends on a stressed beat (iamb and anapest)
Falling meters—create a heavier mood
ends on un-stressed beat (trochee and dactyl)

Types of Rhyme

1—Perfect Rhyme—also called exact rhyme, full rhyme or true rhyme
1—the last stressed vowel is the same in both words
2—all subsequent sounds are the same
3—consonants preceding the last stressed vowel are different
As In—light/sight groovy/movie crispy/wispy flamingo/bingo
Perfect rhyme is the most common type used in children’s poetry and rhyming picture books.

2—Slant Rhyme (also called near rhyme, half rhyme, approximate rhyme, partial rhyme, off rhyme, or oblique rhyme)
1—the sounds are close, but not identical
2—the words often (but not always) contain a repetition of the final consonant or vowel sound
As In—bug/rag slant/vent who/through tougher/suffer
Slant rhyme can be used to good effect in free verse and prose.
It’s best avoided in rhyming children’s poetry and picture books.

Some tips for writing poetry
Rhyme shouldn’t drive the story
1—stick to plot—write it out in prose to test it
2—write a 1-sentence summary of each stanza, in the right order; then read it in order —is it vague or general?
3—use words that move the story forward
4—every word counts and is there for a reason

Ways to Vary Meter—Tools for Varying your verse
1—enjambment—keeping thoughts flowing from one line into the next
2—Caesura—a pause in the middle of a line so the reader takes a breath
3—Really Specific imagery—to take us into the world of the story
4—Really Specific diction—to give us concrete people and places and events to hold onto
5—Sound devices—to delight the ear—don’t overdo it—don’t create tongue twisters
6—Refrain—use a refrain with a slightly different meter or rhyme scheme (careful!)
7—Variations in meter—subtracting or adding an unstressed beat now and then (careful!)
8—Mixed meter—Do Not Try This At Home unless you know the 4 main meters inside and out, and how they do and do not work together!

The biggest obstacles to publication of rhyming picture books
meter—when the reader stumbles reading it
pacing—plot—page turns

Renee is a children’s author and poet, and freelance editor. She teaches an online writing course, The Lyrical Language Lab. You can find details at http://www.nowaterriver.com/the-lyrical-language-lab/. Read more about Renee on her blog, No Water River.
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