Rhyming Picture Books: Varying Meter

Rhyming Picture Books: The Write WayThis month, we’re sharing a brief excerpt each week from our new book, Rhyming Picture Books the Write Way. At the moment, it’s Kindle only, though it will be available in paperback, too, before too long.

Here’s this week’s excerpt:

One of the biggest weaknesses we see in rhyming manuscripts is inconsistent meter. Here’s the thing, though. Sometimes, authors will use inconsistent meter purposefully and to great effect…

So, here’s where it gets tricky. How do you know when it’s OK to be inconsistent with your meter? Here are three reasons you might choose to change up your meter:

  1. to draw attention to a change in the story
  2. to introduce variety into your manuscript
  3. to give your story a more organic, less sing-songy feel

Any of these are valid reasons. Let’s look at each.

To Draw Attention to a Change in the Story

In Peep Leap, Elizabeth Verdick uses the following technique:

One last egg is very still…

 The wood ducks turn and squirm until…
wobble, quake, wiggle, shake–


The smallest eggshell breaks!

Now, Verdick uses a shifting meter throughout the book, and it works for her because she does it right from the beginning…

To learn why this technique works in this instance for Verdick, and to see examples of all three kinds of varying meter that are mentioned, check out our Kindle ebook ($2.99).


About Laura Purdie Salas

children's writer, poet, reader, visiting author, speaker/teacher, mentor, copyeditor, freelance writer
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