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!


  1. Wow! Great revision! Love the word play....

    You definitely struck the right chord,
    Your readers will never be bored :-)

    1. Struck the right chord. Ha, ha! What a clever group we have here :)

  2. Thanks for the breakdown and for sharing your process. Love to word play like, Penny said ^

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! We plan to do a whole series of posts on word play one of these days!

    2. How exciting - can't wait!!

      Btw, love the new look :)

  3. I fear I am also too wordy
    And often say more than is good
    I promise to cut
    Right down to the nut
    And get rid of all the deadwood.

    Ladies, you definitely inspire me...thanks for the great tips!

  4. Thanks for showing us your REAL examples! Love the new stanza's word play. Seems like a very cute book!

  5. Just absolutely brilliant!!! I thought it couldn't be better, and then? BAM!!!


  6. Aw, thanks. One thing I've learned is... it can ALWAYS be better! :)

  7. Yes, I often need to cut the glut...I just love REAL examples...makes it easier to put into practice! thank you AGAIN! Cheers Nicky

  8. That's one sharp editor!

    I love your revised version. Cut the glut indeed!

    Can't wait to see illustrations for Goldi!

    - Cathy

  9. Farley Pig made a decision while laying on his hay.
    A horse's job did not look like work; to Farley, it looked like play.
    Tired of having nothing to do, he wanted to work instead.
    Farley chose to give out rides rather than stay in bed.

  10. Just found this blog and SO excited (Susanna Hill tip). Look forward to strolling around and seeing what's here.

  11. Thank you for sharing your process! Look for what can not be illustrated & let the puns begin!