Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tips for Writing Rhyme that Shines

One of the biggest challenges of writing in rhyme is finding rhymes that are not predictable and overused. But that is also what makes the best rhyming stories and poems!

Some examples of predictable rhymes:

Sun, fun, run
Sight, night, fright
Can, man, plan
Up, cup, pup
Hear, fear, near
See, me, tree, 
No, go, blow, so
Blue, true, new, do, you
Day, play
Out, about
High, sky

Avoiding the Predictable Rhyme Trap is essential for writers who want their rhyme to stand out. Anyone can think to rhyme sun with fun, or high with sky. No reader, upon seeing the word high paired with sky, would exclaim, "What originality!"

Your goal should be to impress your readers by choosing rhymes that will surprise them. Give them something unexpected!

One way to do that is by changing up the way you describe ordinary things. If you are writing about the sun, why not use a metaphor or other descriptor in place of "sun" in your writing? Or consider rearranging the words so that "sun" doesn't fall at the end of a line. 

Another option is to use the common word, like sun, but find a less predictable word with which to make your rhyme. Like in the example below:

I sizzled in the summer sun
'till hot and crispy--overdone!
My balding unprotected head
was now a perfect pepper-red.

A few other tips for writing rhyme that shines:

- Make up words! An example of a rhyming book with fun made up words that really work is Aaron Zenz's HICCUPOTAMUS. And Dr. Suess, of course, was a genius at making up words.

- Use multi-syllabic words. These rhymes are often more challenging to write, but they are more fun to read. Corey and I used a lot of multi-syllabic rhyming words in WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? 

- Don't force it. Even the most interesting, unique, perfectly rhyming words will harm rather than help your story if they don't truly fit the context. 

Of course, it isn't possible to avoid using predictable rhymes entirely. There are many times when the predictable rhyme is simply the best choice. This is why writing great rhyme is about more than the rhymes. Using clever, creative wording and literary devices such as alliteration and onomatopoeia throughout a rhyming piece will help it to stand out even on those occasions when the rhymes themselves may be ordinary. 

But ordinary, predictable rhymes should not be the norm. Strive for the unexpected!


  1. Very interesting...Knowing this gives me a something new to think about and to notice...and to appreciate reading rhymes! Maybe I'll even get a little courage and try my hand at a rhyme...

  2. You should go for it!


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