Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Curse of the Opening Verse

Ok, so it's 9:18 pm...my older son (almost 5) is fast asleep on the floor in the living room with a spoon in his hand. (Don't ask.) My youngest son (3 and a half) is right next to me drawing...um...some sort of world of...heart monitor readings and skyscrapers? I'm drinking half a cup of old coffee and working on a work-in-progress that is raging forward with the fantastic pace of a stopped hamster wheel.

Put it all together, and you guessed it!! It's BLOG POST TIME!! YEEHAW!!

This one is all about the opener.

Your first stanza becomes the template for all subsequent stanzas. It establishes the rhythm and meter for your entire story and if you don't nail it right out of the gate...you may as well forfeit the race.

That's all I'm gonna say right now. Well...that and- send us your first stanzas. The opening verses of the rhyming PBs you are working on, and lets make sure they are a 10. Because if you can rock the opener, you're WAY ahead of the game. But if it falls flat...or even worse...totally rocky...the editor is probably never going to see verse 2.

Don't be shy! Send em in, and let's shape em up! (all fines waived) :-)

Tiffany & Corey

Sunday, July 22, 2012

When You Write, Keep It Tight!

I was going to continue with some of the more subtle types of rhyme infractions today, but I got a call from my editor at Putnam last week and thought I would  bring you a crime of rhyme straight from the trenches

My editor was working with the illustrator for GOLDI ROCKS AND THE THREE BEARS  when she realized there was a bit of a pacing problem in the middle of the manuscript.

I basically took two stanzas to say what could have been said in one.

"This music's so catchy," said Goldi.
Her toes tapped in time to the song.
She grew a bit tired,
but still felt inspired.
"I'd love to try playing along!"

She looked all the instruments over,
then quickly put each to the test.
The guitar was too twangy.
The cymbals too clangy.
The keyboards were clearly the best.

I could see right away that not only was the first stanza pretty unnecessary, but it was also hard to illustrate.  Nothing really happens!  

In my first attempt to combine, I  went for the obvious... keeping the rhyme in tact.

This music's so catchy," said Goldi.
"I'd love to try playing along"
The guitar was too twangy.
The cymbals too clangy
The keyboards-- ideal for the song!

But I knew it could be better.  My next try got in a little added word play.

"This music's so catchy," thought Goldi.
"I'll jam right along with the band."
The guitar was too twangy
The cymbals too clangy
The piano was perfectly grand.
TIPS:    Cut the glut!  
             Ask yourself-  Am I giving the illustrator enough to work with in every stanza?
             Revise!  Revise!  Revise!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Here's an easy peasy way to spice up your manuscript and avoid the "snoozer fine". (1 month jail time and 300 smackaroos!)

Stop with the single syllable rhymes! Ok, not completely. It's perfectly acceptable to use flew and do and who and zoo and shoe. But what about sneaking in a little, "hullabaloo" or "overdue" or "miscontrue" or "kangaroo" or "judicial review"?! Ok, that last one may struggle to find it's place in a kids book...but ya never know! Not only will multisyllabic rhymes add some pizzazz to your verses, but it exposes kids to a wider range of words in general, helping expand their vocabulary. One reason editors do not encourage rhyming submissions (aside from being inundated with bad rhyme), is that they are also inundated with predictable rhyme. They've heard it all before, and they can guess how every sentence is going to end. SURPRISE THEM! You'll be happy you did!

One resource to get your creative juices flowing, is the ever helpful


They divide their list of rhyming words into syllable count. Try going right to the 3 and 4 syllable rhymes, and see what sticks out to you.


If working with these "bigger words" in your rhyme is new to you...try using the multisyllabic word as the first in the rhyming set. It will feel more natural (less forced) than if you use it as the punchline.

Show us some attempts and we'll let you know if you nailed it!
Until next time,

Tiffany & Corey
Always on patrol.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Shameless Plug!

Hey guys,

More rhyme tips coming your way next week....!!

For now, wanted to share the book trailer for, THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN, which will be in stores on Tuesday, July 17th! Hope you enjoy!

To order a copy of the book for your little monsters from Amazon, click here!

Click here to order from Indiebound!

And remember:
Learn to Rhyme...or Do the Time.

Tiffany & Corey
The Metermaids
(Always on Patrol)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Rhymes and Misdemeanors- Part 2

Okay, some of these are pretty obvious, but we just want to make sure we cover the basics, before moving on to more advanced stuff. 


In other words, no Yoda speak!

Phrasing should always sound natural.  As with the last crime of rhyme, ask yourself, "Would I have written this if I were writing in prose?"  If the answer is, "Not unless I've had six shots of vodka,"  then the line has to go!

PENALTY:  House arrest with ankle bracelet!

It's hard to find an example of this in a published book because no editor will go near a manuscript with inverted syntax no matter how good the story arc!

Next up...


"My throne shall be higher," his royal voice plundered.
"So pile up more turtles, I want 'bout two hundred!"

Even the mighty Dr Seuss (our idol!)  is guilty of this infraction on occasion.  

Examples abound in published works.  

Take for instance, this stanza from My Life as a Chicken  (and BTW, this is a very cute picture book, and we do really like it!):

Hard at work I cluck 'n' lay
night and day-- no time to play.
Laying dozens is my fate,
eggs in cartons, eggs in crates. 

Some people will tell you that if its close (i.e. with an "s" and without an "s"), then it's okay. 

But we are STICKLERS.   And here's why...   there are a million ways to convey the same sentiment.

Here is the same stanza from THE THREE NINJA PIGS written three different ways.
The wolf saw that he'd be defeated
He hung his head low in disgrace
Then the wolf disappeared,
and all the pigs cheered.
And he never again showed his face!

The wolf saw that Pig Three could take him
He shuddered and shivered with fear.
“Though I do love to dine
on succulent swine,
I’d best get the heck outta here!”

The wolf saw that he was outrivaled
He took one last look at Pig Three
"I love to eat ham,
but I think i should scram
before she makes mincemeat of me!

When there are so many ways to say the same thing, why settle for one that is less than perfect? 

PENALTY- Fine of $25-250 depending on frequency and severity. 

view details

TIP:  Use rhymezone.com and thesaurus.com to find alternate phrasing!

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Giveaway! Today's the Day!

Hello fellow rhymers!

So, as most of you know...in honor of our official blog launch *virtual confetti*, we are giving away a signed arc of THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN!

And the winner is....(based on a randomly chosen number generated by random.org)

(drumroll please)

Anna Staniszewski!!!

It's time to celebrate your win.
C'mon and let the fun begin.
You've helped to make our launch a great success!

Your prize is on the the way...today!
Okay, there's been a *small* delay.
You'll need to let us know your home address. :-D

(Anna, please email us your address!)

Anyway...seriously...thanks, everyone for joining in on the fun with us. Our goal is to provide as much sought after information on how to create a winning, rhyming picture book as we can...and have a blast doing it.

Don't forget to stay in touch with us via facebook and/or twitter as well:


Tiffany: @TiffRhymes
Corey: @CoreyPBNinja


Tiffany's Author Page

Corey's Author Page

Till next time,
The Meter Maids: Tiffany and Corey
(Always on Patrol)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Rhymes and Misdemeanors

     We're The Meter Maids
     And we are always on patrol. 
     We'll give out fines 
     For faulty lines   
     And place you on parole! 

One of the most heinous crimes of rhyme is to use a word JUST for the rhyme.

Which of the following stanzas is guilty of this infraction?

A)   If you commit
       A crime of rhyme
       You'll go to jail
       And eat a lime!

B)   The prince looked around for a partner
       and found Cinderella- a girl
        he asked her to dance, and she swooned at the chance,
        so the two of them went for a whirl.

C)    On a quiet little farm
        far away from town
        an acrobatic horse
        was hanging upside down

If you said "D, all of the above," you'd be correct!

A)  Obviously, we exaggerated this one make our point.

       PENALTY Jail, with no bail!

B)  This one is a bit more subtle.  The word "girl" is there just to rhyme with "whirl."   Everyone knows Cinderella is a girl!  (and even if someone didn't, the picture would show it)  

      PENALTY$500 fine!

      view details

C)    This one is even more subtle. "Far away from town"  does not add any new information.  We already know they are on a quiet little farm.  The line is really there to rhyme with "down."  This type of offense can possibly slide if you don't do it too much. 

      PENALTY Get off with a warning... this time!

     view details

TIP:  Always ask yourself:  Would I have written that line if this story were in prose?

If you are not sure?  SEND IT TO US at  themetermaids@gmail.com