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:

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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.

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Submission guidelines at http://www.uskidsmags.com/writers-guidelines/

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

Leave a message or check out my blog at www.nancykellyallen.com

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