How To Write Rhyming Poetry

2014 Artwork Rhyming Poetry Article Sketch

Well, it’s been a while since I last wrote about poetry and, since I’m not quite sure whether I’ve covered this topic before, I thought that I’d talk today about how to write rhyming poetry.

Yes, I know that poetry doesn’t always have to rhyme. But, at the risk of sounding like some kind of pre-20th century dinosaur, I’d like to say that rhyming poetry just… well… sounds better.

I mean, a poem doesn’t have to rhyme in every line and there’s some really great non-rhyming poetry out there, but at least a couple of well-placed rhymes can really add impact to the best parts of your poem. And, conversely, a couple of stilted, badly-chosen rhymes can really ruin a poem.

What can I say? Rhyming is a double-edged sword. It can leave people fascinated, or it can leave them bored.

Even so, “writing rhyming poetry” often sounds like it’s a lot more difficult than it actually is. In fact, it’s probably something which puts quite a few people off from even experimenting with writing poetry, let alone occasionally writing it as an outlet for their emotions, thoughts or feelings at a particular moment in time.

So, how do you get your poetry to rhyme?

First of all, you should listen to music – lots of music. But not just any music – no, you need to listen to lots of songs with rhyming lyrics (like rap music, heavy metal etc… ).

You need to listen to rhyming music until you’ve almost memorised at least a few songs. Not only will this give you a general intuitive sense of how to use rhymes and rhythm effectively, it’ll also show you that rhyming is primarily about sounds rather than words.

You see, writing poetry is actually a lot closer to writing music than it is to writing literature. Both poetry and music are designed to be performed aloud and there’s as much importance placed on what a poem or a song sounds like as there is on what it actually says.

So, a rhyme is basically just two parts of a poem that sound either the same or very similar. That’s all it really is. So, how can we use this to find new rhymes?

Simple, just repeat the part of your poem (either mentally or aloud) that you want to find a rhyme for until it loses all meaning and just seems like it’s a collection of random sounds.

Once you’ve got your collection of random sounds, see if you can think of a word or a set of words that sound similar to it. This is slightly difficult/confusing if you’re doing it for the first time (and it’s easier for single words than it is for entire lines) but, once you’ve got the hang of this, it can become almost intuitive.

If this all sounds confusing, then try listening to more music and paying close attention to it – you’ll usually find that the instrumental background music and the words often sound surprisingly similar (and sometimes the words even are written to fit the music, rather than the other way round).

If you still don’t believe me, try looking for some MIDI/ 8-bit versions of your favourite songs on the internet (like in this Youtube video, which also provides a comparison of the original song and the 8-bit instrumental version) – these are fairly simple digitally-created instrumental versions of popular songs and – even though they don’t contain any vocals, you can usually tell where the words are supposed to go.

So, if you think of your poem as being a collection of sounds rather than a collection of words, then it’s a lot easier to find rhymes.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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