Forced Rhyme

Sherri and I have worked with a fantastic editor at Scholastic Teaching Resources to write a number of books. Deb is awesome! One of her best skills is that she can spot a forced rhyme a mile away. We couldn’t get a forced rhyme past her eagle eyes. She’d get back to us and say politely, “This rhyme just feels forced.” Then we’d get back to work on that stanza until it was in tip top shape.

What is a forced rhyme?

To best explain it, I’ll give an example:


First they ran and hid.
Then search for them they did.

The second line in those two lines of rhyme has the sentence with the words written out of order according to the natural way a person talks. In other words, the sentence was rearranged to make sure the rhyming word was last and therefore rhymed with the word in the line above it.

Forced rhymes might have been okay to use in the days of Shakespeare. After all, that’s how those dead guys talked way back then anyhow.

But in today’s world of casual conversation and easy-going styles of communication, forced rhymes aren’t good. So if someone reads your poem and comments that the rhyme sounds forced, try to rework the stanzas until every line reads in the same natural way people talk. Better yet, as you’re writing the poem or children’s manuscript in rhyme, keep working on lines that’s don’t flow along in a natural speech pattern. Make sure every single line in the stanza first and foremost sounds like the regular way someone talks.

-Contributed by Nancy I. Sanders

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