Behind the Scenes: “Walking the Rhyme” by Lynn Becker

No doubt the reason most editors say “no rhyming books” is due to the fact that rhyme is so difficult to do well. When Lynn Becker said she “walked out the rhymes” as she wrote her debut picture book MONSTERS IN THE BRINY,” I asked her to share that in a blog post. All that walking paid off! In a glowing review, Kirkus notes “the perfectly scanned rhymes” and says “This catchy read-aloud demands to be sung at the top of your lungs.” 

And Lynn’s offering a GIVEAWAY! Just leave a comment after the post for a chance to win a copy of MONSTERS IN THE BRINY!

Congratulations to Jessica Milo, winner of Kimberly Wilson’s A PENNY’S WORTH from last week’s post!

Walking the Rhyme by Lynn Becker SONY DSC

In all the years I spent developing my writing craft, if anyone had told me that my debut picture book would rhyme and even be set to music, I would never have believed them. MONSTERS IN THE BRINY, (Sleeping Bear Press, April 15, 2022), illustrated by Scott Brundage, however, is just that and, despite being sure that I was not a rhymer myself, I had a great time writing it.

While I have worked with a number of gifted poets in my critique groups who use rhyme to great effect, I rarely attempted to write anything in rhyme myself. My few early tries fell so flat, they never even made it to a critique group meeting. But when I wrote my short sea shanty about a kraken—which was later expanded into a tale of sea monsters and the woe they unwittingly inflict on a ship full of sailors who try to help them—everything changed.

What made this possible? First of all, it was finding a subject that I thought was interesting enough to spend a lot of time with. So important! I’ve always loved mythical creatures but up to this point hadn’t figured out what or how to write about them. The sea shanty format made sense, and set a framework for the story.

MonstersInTheBriny_Spread 2

But, what was key to the entire endeavor for me was that back when I was developing MONSTERS IN THE BRINY, I took long hikes in the hills that surrounded my then-home in the California desert. I began walking out the different stanzas, keeping track in my head or chanting them out loud to the world (luckily, the trails I used at this time were nearly always deserted). I also brought pad and pencil in case something seemed too complicated to remember. Walking allowed me to focus on the beats, and helped me to be my own metronome. By walking and speaking the lines out loud, I was rarely able to cheat on the rhythm (the few times I did, first my critique group and then my agent soon set me straight). This was essential, since getting the rhythm right is at least as important as nailing the rhyme in poetry and song.

page1image16161696-1But, walking also helped in the rhyming department. By stepping to the beats, I was able to focus on the feel of the whole stanza, using la-la”s or any other nonsense phrase in a spot where theres no word yet, and generally got to play with words more freely. I could toss out a line and walk, walk, walk while getting a feel for what should follow. And a big part of the fun was using words that are fun to say, and even making up nonsense words that fit the rhyme scheme, a few of which ended up in the final MONSTERS manuscript. Walking definitely helped me more fully release my inner silly. And Ive never had so much fun writing anything in my life.

I wrote and rewrote, shuffled stanzas around and around again, I even sang the piece when no one was listening (Im a horrible singer!), but through it all I walked and talked and walked my way to the heart of my very first published picture book—with rhyme!

Thanks for having me on your blog, Beth!

Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of MONSTERS IN THE BRINY! (continental US addresses, ends 4/22/22)


46 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes: “Walking the Rhyme” by Lynn Becker

  1. I have always wanted to write a picture book in rhyme, but seem to have so much to master before this ever happens. I’m excited to read this book as mentor text. Congratulations to the author for her debut and I loved that she has a blast writing this book.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Congratulations to Lynn on her book birthday, and thanks for having her here to share about her writing process!! I love the idea of walking to really find the rhythm, and the encouragement to slip in nonsense filler words while working it all out. Looking forward to reading (or singing?) this book aloud!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My reply seems to have gotten lost, so apologies if this ends up appearing twice–thank you and I hope you enjoy this book and your own process of walking, rhyming, and/or singing!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The first thing I thought when I read this post is that you are going to be able to give some really great author visits! The second was that I am totally stealing this idea. Thanks so much for sharing this!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. “Bravo,” Lynn! You’ve given us a “piping hot” recipe for creating rhyme! ” Whodda thunk” that walking steps in nature could supervise your word choice and meter! This is a brilliant pearl, worthy of plunking into my “keepers pocket!”

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for sharing your process! I am in the midst of trying to write a rhyming story and I can’t wait to try out your method!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for letting me know that, Jilanne! I hope this book is a ton of fun for the kiddos (and kiddos at heart)!

    Liked by 1 person

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