Thursday, June 19, 2014

Carrie Clickard: Rhyme Crime Investigator

Today I have the pleasure of introducing another TLD contributor:


Born in the Midwest and transplanted to sunny Florida, Carrie is an internationally published author and poet whose career also spans graphic design, illustration and film.  Her first picture book, VICTRICIA MALICIA, debuted in 2012 from Flashlight Press.  A second, MAGIC FOR SALE, releases from Holiday House in 2015, and a third, FU LING AND THE DRAGON GATE, will publish in 2016.  Her poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and periodicals including Spider (forthcoming), Clubhouse, Spellbound, Penumbra, Haiku of the Dead, Underneath the Juniper Tree, Inchoate Echoes, and The Brisling Tide.  You can find out more about Carrie and her work at her website.

I'm lucky enough to be in a critique group with Carrie and know firsthand just how fantastic her writing is.  She is an expert storyteller– her work is engaging, bursts with originality and imagination, and exhibits technical mastery as well.  Some of her manuscripts have made me snort with laughter, while others have brought me to tears.  She doesn't always write in rhyme, but when she does, it positively sings.  I hosted a brief encounter between Carrie and Mortimer the Rabbit last October when she shared "Danse Macabre"– an excellent example of just how enthralling her storytelling can be.  

I couldn't be more thrilled that she will be sharing her rhyming expertise on Today's Little Ditty!  Take it away Carrie.

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It’s happened to all of us. There you are browsing your favorite bookshelf at the library or bookstore. A charming cover or clever title draws you in. Eyes dancing, you crack the cover and...

CLUNK! THUD!  You run face first into “BAD RHYME”.  

We might not recognize it when we write it, but we all know it when we read it aloud. Those Saccharine-Suzy-stanzas that are so sing-song, we’d die of sugar-shock if we finished book.  The Igor-meter that halts and limps and drags its feet. The Close-but-no-cookie almost rhymes that fall flat on your tongue and your ear. 

“GAAAAHHHH!!” we groan, pointing an angry finger at the offending verse. “Wrong, wrong, wrong.”

The same “shudder and shove” response happens with a goodly number of editors and agents when they crack open a query and see metered verse.  So much bad verse is passed around that they’re conditioned to expect a horrid reading experience.

If you are a writer of rhyme this can be a hugely frustrating experience. And what can we do about it?

The best defense is writing “crime-free rhyme”.  The crisper, the cleaner, the stronger your rhyme is, the better chance you’ll have to avoid the “shudder and shove” automatic rejection. And the more gorgeous, flawless rhyme that gets into editor’s hands, the more we’ll redeem that bad reputation rhyme has. (I can dream, can’t I?) 

Come, join me in my work as:

That’s what we’ll be doing in my little corner of Michelle’s wonderful blog here. We’ll be dragging the worst offenders out into the open and rehabilitating them into upstanding, citizens of the poetry world.

A few of the crimes we’ll encounter and incarcerate: 


Igor-meterthat makes your rhyme stagger and limp across the page.  

Wrench-it Ralphsputting the em-PHA-sis on the wrong sy-LA-ble.

Dialect dilemmaswhat happens when a word can be pronounced two different ways?  

Nearly Nellies aka Lazy Loussettling for close rhymes that clunk on the ear instead of finding the perfect rhyme. 

Retro-reversalsinverting your subject and verb might make that couplet rhyme, but you’ll end up with stilted, dated poetry.

Weasel wordsyes, they rhyme, but that’s all weasel words do. They don’t add to your story and they don’t really belong. They just let you squirm out of an awkward corner.

Just a few of the usual suspects we’ll work on together. And since the web is all about community and interactivity, I’d love to hear any particular “rhyme crimes” you’d like to see addressed. Drop a note in the comments and I’ll do my best to cover it in an upcoming post. And if you have a great trick for weeding out the rhyme crimes in your own verse and you’d like to share, drop a comment as well.    

Next post we’ll focus on the slipperiest criminal:  Igor-meter.  Beats, treats and de-feets. Or as Sherlock would say “A Study in Scansion”.

For now, it’s back to the mean streets of rhymes and misdemeanors.   

Stay safe out there.

 When rhyme goes bad...

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Thank you, Carrie!  I have no doubt I'll learn much from your crime scene investigations, and look forward to finding out more about each and every one of these shifty criminals!

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DON'T FORGET: this is the LAST WEEK to get me your Poem Movie and/or Poem Picture in response to Sylvia Vardell's and Janet Wong's ditty challenge for June. Send your video or picture file to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or host it yourself and just send me the link.  Next Friday I'll have the end-of-month wrap-up and giveaway.  Wouldn't you love to own your own complimentary copy of THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY FOR SCIENCE?  Here's your chance!  Don't let the opportunity slip by.

And don't let the day slip by without visiting the Poetry Friday roundup, 
hosted by Jone at Check it Out.


  1. Looking forward to this series!

  2. Great post, Carrie. Congrats on all of your upcoming publications! My biggest pet peeve among these is "Retro-reversals." Ugh.

  3. I'm shaking in my shoes. Can I turn myself in now for a lighter sentence?

  4. It is a scary world out there sometimes ;)

  5. Yikes! Keep the handy. Sometimes I am a terrible rhyminal, wait...that doesn't work. Oh, well, I need to work on that one. 8-)

  6. I'm going to go into hiding...but peek in on this series in hopes that I will avoid these crimes...or learn how to revise them away!

  7. I'm shaking in my boots! I think it was that look from Mr. Potato Head that made me feel stricken with guilt. But the cow jumping over the hedge is pretty scary too. I'm glad Carrie is going to shape us up.