Rejection, Rhyming and Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss’s first book, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street, was rejected 27 times before somebody said “Yes!” His most well-known rejection letter reads, “This is too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.” And we all know the happily-ever-after ending to his story!

In reading through various agents and editors’ blogs, it seems like nobody wants to publish rhyming picture books these days, but there are loads of them out there, and kids love them.  What’s up with that?  Apparently, there are lots of kids’writers who think they’re really clever at writing in rhyme, but, unfortunately, few of us actually have that gift. Or is it an acquired skill? I found an article recently, by Doria Chaconas, “Icing the Cake, Writing Stories in Rhythm and Rhyme, that’s full of in-depth, almost scientific, pointers about writing in rhyme. Some of it sounds vaguely familiar from my days as an English Lit student…but it’s worth a read.

For some reason, certain stories just start writing themselves in rhyme, weird as that probably sounds unless you’ve experienced it. I like to think I have a good natural sense of rhythm, but maybe I’m wrong.  It’s fun, but finding rhymes and sounding out rhythms can be incredibly frustrating, too. On-line rhyming dictionaries come in handy, and when all else fails, I rearrange the words again and again, or dig up new ones, until I think it works. Oddly enough, the story I’m working on now can be sung to the tune of My Favourite Things – surely that can’t be a bad thing!

About janlcoates

I'm a Nova Scotia children's author. My first picture book, "Rainbows in the Dark", was published in 2005, by Second Story Press. My young adult novel, "A Hare in the Elephant's Trunk" was published in the fall of 2010, by Red Deer Press.
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5 Responses to Rejection, Rhyming and Dr. Seuss

  1. Lynn says:

    It’s amazing, isn’t it, how a few writers have made it big because of the very uniqueness that was shunned?

    “certain stories just start writing themselves in rhyme”
    I SO agree. A story I wrote about a dragon would not be written any other way. It has not made it past the rejection/ignore pile yet, but .. who knows? I wont give up on it.

    • I should add that the article you linked to .. Icing the cake .. was also a great help to me when I was fine-tuning my rhyming story. One of my critique friends told me about it.

  2. Here I am again .. Jan, I have awarded you the Sunshine award, Congratulations! If you go to my blog on Tuesday, March 6, you will find out the details. 🙂

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