writing for children

FTR(ornot)Fridays: Rules in Rhyming

I love rhyming. I really do. I’ve even sold rhyming poetry to a few magazines. But that doesn’t mean I always get it right. Many times, I get it VERY wrong.

I usually just write straight from the hip.  Much of the poetry I’ve shared on this blog has not been, well, it’s not been my best. (I know, you already figured that out). BUT…if I’m working on poetry that is not just for my personal enjoyment – poetry I am really considering submitting somewhere – I do have some rules, sort of. I’m not saying they are never broken, but that is usually the exception.

  1. I use perfect/true rhymes as much as possible. Note: slant rhyme, near rhyme, etc, are acceptable and preferred over the “perfect” rhyme by some songwriters.  Songwriting is very different than writing poetry, though both are poetic endeavors.
  2. I don’t use the easy rhyme all the time. ex: Cat/bat/hat. Dr. Seuss did it, but that doesn’t mean I have to.  Sometimes I’m lazy – but I try to dig deeper. 
  3. I don’t rely on my ears alone. My crit partners and writing buddies read my work aloud to make sure my poetry is as it should be. 
  4. I focus on my rhythm as much as I do my rhyme.  If my rhyme is perfect, but my rhythm is off, my poem is not ready for publication. My poetry should flow easily. Natural rhythm and natural accents are essential.

Not necessarily rules, but still good stuff I try to do:

  1. I read good poetry. I read bad poetry. Why? In order to help me recognize the difference in my own work.
  2. I critique work from other poets. It is amazing how critiquing other poetry helps me in my own work!
  3. I pray. Seriously, I do. I ask God to help me. And He does! 🙂
  • Do you follow a similar set of rules when rhyming?
  • Do you have a more strict set of rules for rhyming?
  • Or are you a rule-breaking, rhyming rebel? 

What works for you?


11 thoughts on “FTR(ornot)Fridays: Rules in Rhyming

  1. Donna,

    I tell myself that poetry doesn’t have to rhyme and that I can write free verse. But some pieces cry out for rhyme and meter. I have projects that I have put aside because I can’t get the meter right. My unspoken rule is, “If you can’t figure it out, better move on to something else.” After all, kids deserve the best you can give.

    Maybe one day I’ll attend a class or one-on-one tutoring that helps me get it right. There’s always hope.

    Linda A.


  2. I’ve read some of the poetry you told me you were going to sub, Linda. I thought you did a good job. I just think you need some confidence, gal! 🙂

    I think a lot of the problems we encounter with writing in rhyme comes from fear of getting it wrong. If we get it wrong – so what? That’s why we have critique partners. They’ll let us know and encourage us to get it right! 🙂

    I’m not expert, but I’m always glad to offer a second pair of eyes for your poetry if you need some. You’ve got a lot of poetic talent just waiting to burst out. You can’t hold it in forever! 🙂


    1. Donna,

      Thanks so much for the encouraging words. With practice, all writing gets better, RIGHT? By the way, I am submitting a Christmas story for our local newspaper’s contest. I have entered several years. Hopefully, this is my year. I did enjoy writing it very much. I may look for a magazine to send it to also. Why not?

      Linda A.


  3. I think two things that help me with my poems:
    1. clapping & reading aloud …becasue sometimes i really try to force something that doesn’t work
    2. waiting – if I take a poem out and look at it again after 2 or 3 months have passed and can still feel the same emotions, I know it is something worth keeping and working on.

    I have no advice for songs – I’ve only written about a dozen and I think they are all at the ‘newbie’ stage!

    I agree with you about finding a good critique group.


    1. Ooooh – clapping is a great thing! I’ve done that some and it really does help.

      And waiting is a good thing, too. Sometimes you just KNOW when it’s right. Other times, waiting is a necessary part of the process!

      I didn’t realize you wrote songs, too. Coolio! I am a “newbie”, too, but love it. What kind of songs do you write?


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