Nancy's Books

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Twirl and Swirl--Adding Rhythm to Prose

My goal in adding rhythm to prose is to dance words across the page. Another name for this is voice. I never reach my goal on the first draft, and often not by the tenth. Little by little, as I revise the manuscript, the words begin to swing and sway, rollick and roll. Picture book text relies on a rhythm, whether it’s prose or rhyme.

Think of rhythm in terms of music. Listening to the upbeat sound of the Rolling Stones makes me shimmy and shake. An Elton John ballad brings on the swing and sway. The beat. The cadence. The rhythm. They affect us in the same way as we read. Short phrases speed up the action as in this scene in BARRELING OVER NIAGARA FALLS: Annie jostled inside the small, dark barrel, bobbing through the rapids, slamming into rocks. The barrel pitched and rolled—forward and back, left and right, up and down—in the rough, tough bucking-bronco ride. The sentences are long but the phrasing is short with emphasis is on the short phrase.       
Longer sentences, without short phrases, slow the action. I used this method as the beginning scene in HIRAM’S GIFT: Many winters ago Hiram walked to school from deep in a holler, snuggled tight between two mountains. A lemon pie moon dangled like a giant’s lantern and lit the path. 

When you read picture books, notice the rhythm of the words. When you find a passage that you particularly like, read it aloud. Does it swing and sway? Boogie and scoot? Tap and snap?

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Amazing Kids! Magazine. Our award-winning, kid-created monthly online magazine is dedicated to providing kids with a fun and educational experience, a place to share their creative works, through their writing, art, and photography. Our Amazing Kids! of the Month stories feature real life kids doing some pretty amazing things! Amazing Kids! believes by reading about other kids' accomplishments, or reading their creative works, it can help inspire more kids to explore their own amazing gifts and use them to make a difference in the world.

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Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

U.S. Kids Magazines (Humpty Dumpty and Jack and Jill), providing fun, entertaining reading material is our priority. We accept humorous, playful, and witty stories that kids would love to read—not stories that grownups think kids should read.

As part of the Children’s Better Health Institute, we are always in need of high-quality stories, articles, and activities with a broad health and fitness focus. Please keep in mind that we would rather show kids living a healthy lifestyle than dictate a healthy lifestyle to our readers. In other words, health topics should be incorporated into the story or article, not be the focus of it.

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Nancy Kelly Allen has written 48 children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK.

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