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The Frettie Journal
A collection of interviews, updates, tips and resources for songwriters.

Songwriter, Please Don’t Chase Rhymes!

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on April 18, 2018

It’s easy to start chasing rhymes. But it's a big mistake.

This is when you write a line with a setup rhyme and, instead of concentrating on what needs to be said, you just try to get the payoff rhyme to work.

For example, line 2 of your verse says, “You’re the one I love” setting up an “of”-sounding rhyme in line 4. It’s easy to spend lines 3 and 4 just getting to, “Girl, we fit like a glove,” without really stopping to consider what the thought behind the lines should be.

There is never a good time to chase rhymes, but it's especially bad when you do it in the line right before the chorus.

The line right before the chorus is one of the most important lines in your song- it sets up the chorus and helps determine the impact the top of the chorus has on the listener. (In basketball lingo, the last line of the verse or pre-chorus is the alley-oop so the chorus can slam-dunk it.)

But when you chase rhymes, the line before the chorus is trapped into serving the rhyme that comes before it. Instead, it should be following the thought of the line before it AND setting up the chorus. For example, a writer can get too focused on, “The line above ends in ‘blue’ so I have to write the next line so it ends with an ‘oo’ sound.” This can result in a line that’s weaker than it should be.

To avoid this trap, I’ll often figure out the IDEA of the set-up line, but intentionally leave it unrhymed before moving on to the last line of the chorus. I’d rather have the more important line dictate the rhyme of the less important line. This frees me up to focus on finding the strongest idea for the last line of the verse- on finding the best idea and figuring out how to say it. After I have that figured out, I can go back to the set-up line and figure that one out.

Remember: the thought behind the line is more important than the rhyme at the end of the line.

It requires intentionality, discipline and time to build the habit of putting the thought behind the line first. But it’s worth it. It helps your song to be more thoughtful (less surface) and more interesting (less cliche’). Figure out the THOUGHT first, then figure out the rhyme.

If you want to write powerful songs that connect with listeners, I have a great opportunity for you.

On May 24, I'm hosting Frettie's quarterly "Know The Row" event with multi-hit songwriter, Jimmy Yeary. Jimmy's a writer on the CMA and ACM Song of the Year, "I Drive Your Truck" as well as #1 hits for Kenny Chesney, Jake Owen, Rascal Flatts and more. This is YOUR opportunity to connect face-to-face with a hit songwriter. And since it's an online event, it doesn't matter where in the world you live. And the best news is...

"Know The Row" with Jimmy Yeary is FREE for Frettie subscribers!

If you're on Team Frettie, you get free access to each of Frettie's "Know The Row" events, as well as exclusive access to a ton of other great songwriting resources and events, including replays of previous "Know The Row" events.


If you aren't ready to take advantage of all the great membership advantages of Frettie, you can still buy a ticket.


Jimmy Yeary poster

God bless,


PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at

Request your invite to Frettie.
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