It’s that time again – Spring is in the air and what better way to celebrate than with a Spring Competition…
I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who sent their manuscripts in – it really can be a daunting thing to do and I appreciate you trusting your work with me.
After reading so much rhyme and meter I thought it might be useful for me to point out some of the more common errors that I came across, without naming names of course.
Ok – here is a rhyming couplet
But jumping was the only thing that brought Peter joy
He just jumped so much that his parents he would annoy
Does it rhyme? Yes it does. Does it have a predictable meter? Not really. And is it written the way we would speak naturally or has it been twisted to fit the rhyme? I would say yes, the second line has been written in a convoluted manner and as such sounds forced. In natural speech we would be more likely to say –
But written this way – it doesn’t rhyme with ‘joy’.
So how can we fix it?
The first thing that I like to do is to insert all the syllables into a grid like so…
What I’m looking for is a pattern made with the columns. Columns should be all red or all black. As you can see, at the moment, there is no discernible pattern. Which means there is no beat (the stressed syllables provide the beat) which means there is no meter, no tune if you like.
So what might I suggest?
and in the second line we have
so even though we are missing 9 words we can still make sense of what is being said.
So if we can work out which syllables are stressed we can see from these grids where and why the meter is or isn’t working.
If you are intrigued by this you might be interested in my booklet ‘Rhyme Like the Experts’. This goes into a little more detail about writing in rhyme and meter but is written simply and quite easy to understand and only $10
To purchase a copy, you can do so via PayPal by clicking the hyperlink or email me for details to pay via direct debit, cheque or money order.
My email address is email@example.com
And to finish off – here is what some of my clients had to say of my editing service…thanks everyone.
So I’m referring to the phenomenon of one closing as another opens hence on the back of a recent rejection I’ve just received the news that The Croc and the Platypus has been shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards. So I am now, once again, feeling very grateful and humble at being in such terrific company. Please go here for the complete shortlist.
Books are awarded for “Best Book for Language and Literacy Development” in the following categories:
Each book is judged on its appeal to children, interactive quality and ability to assist speech pathologists and parents in communication and literacy development. Learn more about the selection criteria for the Book of the Year Awards.
I’m reminded of the lyrics from the Alanis Morissette song Ironic…
So if you have a rhyming manuscript, be it a poem or a story in verse, that just won’t behave itself, send it over and I’ll soon whip it into shape.
Thanks to everyone for all your support and encouragement over the years, particularly Walker Books who really have made this journey a wonderful one.
Today I would like to welcome Lorraine as she launches her brand new poetry collection titled, ‘Celebrating Australia, a year in poetry’.
Lorraine is a force to be reckoned with in the world of poetry winning The Prime Minister’s Literary Award for her verse novel, Star Jumps in 2010. This is her third collection of poetry with Walker Books and I have to admit I’m a tiny bit jelly!
Anyhoo, on with the tour.
I asked Lorraine what makes a good poem because I think all us poets really want to know the answer to that question. Here’s what she said…
Well I’m sure there are a lot of lists and ideas out in poetryland, but over many years of writing, judging, teaching I’ve come to regard several as top of the range and the sifting of gold from the perceived idea of what poetry is:
• the building blocks of poetry are nouns and verbs- names of things and action words, not prepositions or adverbs, but the solid power- impacting nouns and verbs
• details are important and help to banish ‘telling’ in poetry as well as banish cliché. After all a poem should provide the reader with a new slant, a new perspective on a slice of the known world.
• senses are another must in poetry, along with details they allow the reader full sensory delight, and call on a three dimensional perspective.
• a thread of common, shared history- a reader can say yes I’ve felt that way, I’ve experienced that but I’ve never looked at it in quite that way before.
In other words putting a bit of you in the poem- a feeling, a thought; will make the poem resonate and have more of an impact.
• a poem needs a title which is like an extra chance to wow your reader, don’t repeat a word or idea found in the body of the poem, in fact because poems are short explosive pieces of musical communication, don’t repeat any nouns or verbs you first introduced. Repetition except for format or emphasis, tends to dull the first power of those words.
• the end line of the poems should be satisfying, an ‘ahh’ conclusion, and be like a painting; circular, flicking us back to the title to again beginning the reading voyage.
And PS you don’t have to rhyme to have a lasting poetic presence- apologies to the host of this blog today.
Hmmpf, we’ll see about that!!
To help prove her point Lorraine asked that I write a non-rhyming poem (heaven forbid) using one of her poems as a template, actually all of the blog hosts have been given this challenge. Below are her instructions that you might like to utilise yourself.
Using a patterning from my seasons’ poems in Celebrating Australia to write your own poem.
Here is the poem ‘Autumn’ and the challenge is to write your own version either of autumn or substitute a celebration like a birthday, Christmas , a memory, a special day in the calendar that means something to you.
Below is my seasonal poem on autumn and for the remaining seasons in the book I followed the same patterning, of words, line breaks etc.
Read through this poem.
Autumn is loud crushing sounds
a foot scuffing rap-tapping shuffle.
One day a light dusting
of pathway obstruction
by week’s end a whole mound
of slip, slide, crunch, crackle.
Autumn is loud splashing colours
a yellow, rust, tangerine explosion.
One day a brightness in twos, threes
of pathway palette,
by week’s end a whole Monet mosaic
of buffs, shades, tints and silhouettes.
© Lorraine Marwood
Now chose your topic, remember the suggestions above.
• Brainstorm- if it’s autumn you choose: think colours, events, weather, your reaction to autumn.
Write all those words down- look up words to do with autumn, think of different words for yellow or brown- I love the word tangerine and have used it here. Poetry is unusual words that sound great and provide word pictures. Even look to photos, calendars, magazines; online for visual representations of your subject matter, you are trying to surprise and entertain your reader with a new perspective of a tried and true celebration.
• Now write the first line of my poem in your notebook. Pattern the words- for example:
• Now add the sounds of your subject- three words only. And that’s the first line done.
• Second line actually goes into detail of the sounds of autumn (or whatever subject matter you’ve chosen), details are so important to the vibrancy of your poem.
a foot scuffing rap-tapping shuffle
• Again the same patterning.
Begin with ‘a’ then five words to make the musicality of the sound impact on the reader.
• Third line, so begin this line with ‘one day’, then add your four words
One day a light leafy dusting
• Fourth line ‘of pathway obstruction’. Here whatever you chose to flow on from the third line and it’s a line identifying place- where the sound is happening, will be used in the second stanza with just the last word changing. So it’s three words using ‘of’ as your beginning word.
• Fifth Line ‘by week’s end a whole mound’ this is a time frame line showing the change in autumn as it progresses with ‘by week’s end’ again repeated in the second stanza with the last three words different.
• Sixth line ‘of slip, slide, crunch, crackle’. So we are honing into the premise of the first line of ‘loud crashing sounds’ and providing a final explosion of sound (don’t repeat any sound words you’ve used before though)
• Now to the final stanza- same patterning but this time the focus is on colour.
How did you go?
Was it hard to write? Are you surprised by the results?
Actually Lorraine I’m very surprised by the results. Very surprised indeed. Here’s what I came up with…
The Bush is…
The bush is soft caressing sounds
a paw scuttle, a warm breeze rustle
One day a lush living haven
of grass trees and eucalypts
by week’s end an empty barren grave
of silent, echoes, staccato, fractures
The bush is soft calming colours
a blush, powder, emerald quilt
One day an ocean
of seaweed and coral
by week’s end a charcoal smeared canvas
of opal, mercury, oil and sky
To begin with I copy and pasted Lorraine’s poem into a new document and I bolded the parts that had to be included in my poem. If I’m going to follow instruction I like to be as accurate as possible. I like to get things right, it can be a personality trait that is a bit stifling at times.
I already knew that I would write about the bush because that’s where I spend most of my spare time. I walk through the bush nearly every day and many of my poems are found there. So choosing the topic was easy.
Being full of leaves and fallen branches I was aware that I could use similar words to Lorraine but for me the bush is like a warm hug, it’s not really crackly at all so I focused on the softness of it. It wasn’t until I began writing that it occurred to me to move from lush to burnt, something that can definitely happen by week’s end.
I really enjoyed searching for unusual words for sound and colour and without the limitation of rhyme, which I love, I was able to utilize more words.
I didn’t find it hard to write. I found it liberating.
But hmmm… I wonder if I could write it in rhyme?
As this exercise shows, Lorraine is not only a brilliant poet, she is also a wonderful teacher. Without her instruction I would never have been able to come up with my poem so now I challenge you…
Come up with your own Lorraine inspired poem (post it in the comments section below) and the one I fancy the most will receive a copy of her book. You have until the end of the blog tour (see dates below) to delight me.
Thanks so much for sharing your poetic thoughts with us Lorraine and before we go here’s another Celebratory Poem from her brand new wonderful collection.
Many years ago someone wise said to me that you should always have a least 12 things in circulation.
Why? I asked, being quite new to the writing game.
Because, they said, not only does it increase you chance of success it also stops you going mad while you chew your fingers to the bone waiting, waiting, waiting…
The more there is in circulation the more you have to look forward to. One rejection isn’t the end of the world and as soon as that rejection comes in send it out again. It’s not going to get read in your bottom drawer is it?
So here’s what I have circulation at the moment…
I also intend to enter the two competitions listed below and I hope you’re considering entering them too.
I am writing to invite you to join Jack Prelutsky, Jane Yolen, Lemony Snicket, Judith Viorst, Douglas Florian, Sharon Creech, and many others in an anthology of poems I am putting together for Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
There was a bit more detail in the middle…………then
With kindest regards,
Kenn Nesbitt, Children’s Poet Laureate
Well, after I’d picked myself up off the floor, I, in typical Jackie fashion, began to cry – I know – it’s pathetic but I’m awfully good at it, so cry I did.
I mean for heaven’s sake, Kenn Nesbitt, the Children’s Poet Laureate had chased me down and made contact and I was, I think, understandably overjoyed.
After sending him about a million poems I am delighted to announce that my poem, Morning Star has made the cut. It’s a small poem, but it’s the little things in life that are often the best.
Now not wanting to wish my life away, roll on 2016 so that I can proudly hold an anthology that will not only be full of poems from those listed above but will also be be chock-a-block with poems from some of my favourite Ozzie poets, listed below…
And if anyone knows of any other Ozzie poets that should be on this list please let me know and I’ll update it.
Congratulations to you all.
When Sandy Fussell of the Samurai Kids series fame,tagged me in the latest meme I wasn’t sure I could take part because the requirement is for a writer to share 7 lines from page 7 or 77 of their current WiP.
Being a poet and picture book writer I don’t have many WiPs that venture past one page let alone 77. Now of course I know that picture books are usually 32 pages long but when I write them I don’t tend to divide them into pages early on I just try to get the story down.
So what I thought I could do was share 7 lines from verse 7 of my current WiP and I hope that that will be ok.
Round and round and loopedy-loop the bloomers flailed and flew
Around the steeple, past the park, and through the petting zoo
And Betsy puffed and panted as she tried to keep in sight
Her flipping, flapping bloomers as they once again took flight
Up and up towards the clouds and then a mighty squall
Snatched the spotty bloomers as they left the city sprawl
Betsy stopped to catch her breath then off she dashed once more…
And there you have it 🙂
You know, there is nothing more rewarding than feeling useful and today I got to feel very useful indeed thanks to a writer’s response to a manuscript edit that I did for them. Here’s what they said…
Wow!! What an awesome job you’ve done. Your changes are so obvious but I would never see them in a million years.
I will purchase the ebook and I’ll have a go at my story again. I’ll send it back to you soon after another polish. Thank you so much.
Feeling a bit chuffed with myself I thought I might scroll back through some recent edit responses and share them with you here. I know I’m blowing my own trumpet but being a self-employed editor kind of requires me to do so. I hope you’ll bear with me.
Thank you for your help – your book especially has helped me to understand what I need to do.
Thanks soooooo much Jackie. You’re a gem!
Hey Jackie! Thanks so much! So good to have you go over this for me.
Thanks for your comments which I had a good look at today – it really helped in rewriting the poem.
Many thanks for all this. I have only had a chance to check briefly but it looks great. Some of the changes were so obvious but I couldn’t pick it. I am really delighted with your work. Thank you!
Thanks Jackie, I would love you to continue as you have for the whole poem and invoice me for the lot. Very helpful suggestions!
Okay – I’ll stop now but if you have a children’s rhyming poem or story in verse that won’t behave itself why not take the plunge and send it over to me – we’ll soon get it sorted 🙂
Thanks to Aleesah Darlison for tagging me in the Writing Processes Blog Tour. To read Aleesah’s answers to the blog tour questions please click here
Aleesah is a prolific author with an amazing number of books under her belt. She writes picture books, series and is actively involved in the children’s book writing community.
Aleesah is available for a wide range of Author Talks, Storytime Sessions and Workshops for both children and adults. She is available for pre-school, school and library visits and for writers’ festivals and conferences.
Click here for more information.
And here are some of her most recently published books…
Ok – so now it’s my turn.
Well I’m always working on a poem or two. At the moment I have a couple rattling around in my head. One is about the clues that bush creatures leave and the other is about nicknames. Both of these came to me as I was doing one of my many walks through the beautiful Australian Bush. I also have a few picture book texts that will soon be hunting for a home, these get pulled out periodically for another spit and polish.
Most of my work is written in Rhyme and Meter. I’m a big fan. It’s a tricky yet truly satisfying way to write. I try not to rhyme but I don’t know why because inevitably I find that I enjoy the rhyming process so much that to actively avoid it is a little bit silly.
Because I LOVE it!
Also because I like to write short and sweet, poetry suits this desire quite well as does writing picture book texts. While I cannot tell you how much I admire writers of the novel, I just don’t think my brain is designed this way. I see the world in snippets, flashes, snapshots, I’d probably have made a very good camera.
In snippets, flashes and snapshots 🙂
But seriously, I’m not sure to be honest. I think with a first line, that’s usually the way it happens, and that, if I’m writing a poem, will determine the meter. For the two poems that I mentioned above – here’s what happened…
I was walking in the bush, nothing unusual there, and I kept coming upon piles of horse manure but there was no horse in sight and a little thought emerged…
And while one wouldn’t normally think of a horse as a bush creature, it’s the idea that I like.
For the one on nicknames I remember, again while walking in the bush, looking at Rex (my dog pictured here) feeling slightly amused that we call him everything but Rex. Roo, That Roo, Rooster or Rexy Roo and this popped out…
These few lines have been scribbled down and will stay scribbled until I have a moment where I cannot leave them any more. I will transfer them into a word doc and see what I can do, see if I care enough to keep going. As yet they are still just a few scribbles on a page.
Alright that’s enough about me – on with the tour. Debra will be posting her answers to the above 4 questions on Monday 14th April.
If you would like to be part of this tour – I still have room to tag 2 more authors. You will need to contact me before Sunday 13th April.
Thanks for reading.
Debra is a parent, social worker and children’s author from Sydney. Her first picture book When I see Grandma has been recently released. It is a celebration of life and love drawn from her experience of having a parent with dementia, and reflecting the experience of many young families with ageing grandparents.
Her author royalties are donated to dementia research and care.