Songwriter writing lyrics

Creating Rhymes In Your Word Lists

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One of the reasons that creating word lists works so well in the songwriting process is that you don’t just come up with vocabulary for a song — you come up with your vocabulary.

In other words, the words on your lists are the ones that were generated in your own mind. That means that they’re words you’re more likely to use in casual conversation, and it adds an important layer of relevance and a personal touch to your song lyrics.

If you’re not already creating word lists as part of your lyric writing process, you’re likely wasting a fair bit of time as you try to work out a lyric. Once you’ve got a rough idea of what your song’s topic is going to be, start making lists of words that are likely to make an appearance in a typical lyric.

And to go one step further, try creating two lists:

  • One list for verse-like words. These are words that don’t carry a lot of emotional punch, but work more to describe scenarios and circumstances.
  • One list for chorus-like words. These are words that tend to be more emotional.

So if your song is about striving for world peace, your verse words list might include words like: “help”, “stand”, “hand”, “open”, “strive”, etc. Your chorus words might include: “heart”, “cry”, “laugh”, “inspire”, “meaning”, etc.

Rhyming Words In Your Lists

And you can take things one step even further: create rhymes for the words you’ve placed in either lists. Just as you don’t have to use every word in your lists for your lyric, you also don’t have to feel the necessity of using every rhyme.

But finding rhymes has a way of stimulating your imagination, and making the process of creating lines of lyrics a bit easier and quicker. Try both close and approximate rhymes. Here’s how you might do this:

Beside the word “help” you might put: “well”, “fell”, and “melt”. Beside “stand”: “man”, “chance”, “band”, “land”, and so on.

As I say, you may very well not go with many or even any of the rhymes you’ve created, but it gets your mind thinking in the right direction. It can speed up the process of creating rhyming lyrics if you’ve already put some thought into what might rhyme.

My recommendation might be to not consult a rhyming dictionary when doing this, unless you’re really stuck. The point of the exercise, besides building up the vocabulary you might use in a song lyric, is to find words that your own mind generated. This gives your lyrics an important aspect of relevance and personality.


Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

Hooks & RiffsHooks and Riffs: How They Grab Attention, Make Songs Memorable, and Build Your Fan Base” shows you how a good hook can make the difference between songwriting success and failure. With great examples from pop music history.

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