Q: To rhyme or not to rhyme? That is the question. How do you know if your book should rhyme? What advice do you give to writers who show you their rhymed manuscript?
J: That is both an easy and difficult answer. The easy answer is “You know it in your bones.” The hard answer is: “the editoor’s bones may have a different response.” The best thing is to ask yourself four things:
1. If you think it is a well rhymed book (first question is–is it well rhymed?)
2. Does the book actually need rhyme?
3. Does the rhyme enhance the poems or do just blow up your ego? And
4. Will rhymes enhance the book or take away from its story, its message, its meaning?
I find this very important: Read your poems out loud to someone. Then let them read the poems back to you.
It has to be someone who likes poetry and you trust to be both a good poetry reader AND a very honest critic. I have my daughter. We have done many poetry books together. We sit at the large dining room table at my house and each read aloud THE OTHER PERSON’S POEM!!!! And boy! does that let you know very quickly if a rhymed poem is succeeding or not!!!