Tuesday, February 08, 2011

To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme

I'm beginning work on a children's book and one of the questions I ran into as I began was whether or not to tell the story in rhyme like a poem.  Initially I thought that it would be too much trouble and would require a heck of a lot of work.  Won't it just be simpler to tell the story in prose?  Isn't it easier to be economical with words when you don't have to search for the right ones to fulfill the requirements of rhythm, meter, and rhyme? 

As I examined some of my favorite children's books, however, I found that the ones I loved included both styles, but those which achieved a tone similar to the one I hope to strike tended to be prose.  However, this is just a tendency and is not true 100% of the time. 

To see what happened, I wrote out the same story in both styles.  I was correct when I assumed that writing in verse was more time consuming, but it wasn't as difficult as I had feared.  Of course, I can't say that it was very good either.  It was actually quite easy to see when I was forcing a word, phrase or verse.  At some points my attempt screamed, "ROUND HOLE!  SQUARE PEG!"  With practice and work, I'm sure I could find better ways to say the same things.  Everyone revises, right?  No one gets it perfect on the first try.

When I re-wrote the same story in prose, however, I actually used more words, not fewer.  Prose allowed me to express things more clearly in a manner I thought would benefit the story.  On the other hand, I found I could eliminate whole sentences with the right drawing.  Substituting a picture for a paragraph was easier for me when I hadn't taken the time to worry about whether the paragraph had the correct rhyme scheme or meter.  By writing in prose, I could express the emotions and feelings of the characters first, and then, after composing a drawing that told those emotions, I could eliminate the prose altogether. 

So what do you think?  Leave a comment and let me know what kinds of children's stories you enjoyed the most.  What do you think are the pros and cons of prose and verse?

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