Rhyme and Metre

I’m currently struggling to write a rhyming picture book. The rhymes are acceptable, but the rhythm is off.

New writers are discouraged to write rhyming books because they’re

  1. hard to do well,
  2. publishers hate them (see point 1),
  3. and they’re notoriously difficult to translate, so your international market is restricted (which is also why publishers hate them, point 2).

But I’m writing an educational book about an Assistance puppy, and because the story is a bit drier, without the usual silliness and hijinks I normally write, I decided that rhyming would improve its repeat readability.

So, on my journey to become a better writer, I’ve collected a range of go to resources for rhyme and metre for those who are on a similar journey:

Writing rhyming children’s books  »

Rhyming is all about rhythm »

What is Meter? »

This video series by Lyrical Language Lab is excellent, and helps you to understand stressed syllables and when it’s acceptable to break rhythm patterns.


RhymeZone has a great library of rhyming and close rhyming words.

And of course a thesaurus is invaluable to find an alternative to “discombobulated” that rhymes with “house”.

The Syllable Separator is an easy to use tool that will do most of the hard work of breaking your work into syllables. It’s not perfect, so check the results before you get started.

Finally, most dictionaries have a tool to let you determine the primary and secondary stressed syllable, but WordSmyth is the easiest to interpret.

Finally, Jacki Hoskings has a self-paced course called Meter Matters, which has been highly recommended to me, but which I can’t afford because I’m writing the assistance dog book gratis for Assistance Dogs Australia.



5 Places to Start Your Story

Where do you start your novel? I struggle with this, and I’m sure other writers do too.

Most writers are probably aware of the usual advice of what to include in the first five pages. From Nathan Bransford to Steven James (both highly recommended), almost every writer’s blog has some advice about how to start your story.

Continue reading 5 Places to Start Your Story

Introducing your characters

Introducing characters is an art in itself.

I believe that a character should be described once, in a memorable and vivid way, and as early as the narrative allows. If you’ve done your job well, the reader develops an internal image, and unless it’s absolutely pertinent to the story, this should not be altered, tampered with, or even mentioned again (or it can pull the reader out of the story).

Pen portraits

My approach is to introduce each character in a few lines, or preferably a single sentence, in a way that really cements the character in the reader’s mind. One of my writing buddies called this a Pen Portrait.

Continue reading Introducing your characters

The Power of the Enigmatic Outsider

In the last few years, I’ve read several manuscripts where the writers have misunderstood that the role of their protagonist is split between two characters: the main character and the hero.

The role of the protagonist

Typically the protagonist in a story is the character who:

  • the reader experiences the story through
  • whose choices/actions drive the plot and have the greatest affect on the climax of the story.

Occasionally the story is told through the eyes of a more passive character who is swept up into the world of a more interesting and enigmatic character.

Continue reading The Power of the Enigmatic Outsider