How to Write Greeting Card Verse

How to Write Greeting Card Verse

How to Write Song Lyrics

By Pamela Stevens
Guest Writer

Despite the most thoughtful efforts of expert greeting card writers, you may find it hard or impossible to find a card that relates what you want to say, or that carries the emotion that you want to share. So, you may choose to compose your own verse and construct a card using a greeting card program, online service or home publishing software. After you make the decision to write your own sentiments, you may wonder where to begin and how to make the verse sound original, yet professional.

Most greeting card writers use poetic devices in their verse. Not that all greeting card verse is poetry, but writers use rhyme and rhythm to make the verse read smoothly and sound natural. They may also use imagery to capture a particular emotion.

Even for a poet, writing creative, unique verse can be an intimidating and maddening experience. If you are new to writing verse, an easy method to approach composing exceptional greeting card text is as follows:

1) Outline the points you want to address and some images or memories you may want to use, for example, if you are writing about your son you might want to incorporate how you felt when you shared a special time with him.

2) Decide what kind of tone you want to use, for example, cheerful, energizing, serious or vigorous. The tone will help you choose the words to use, for example, you can invoke a somber tone with round sounds, like in the words ball, absolve or crown. Whereas an upbeat verse might use words like tike, fight or bite.

3) Perform a five minute free write; simply write your thoughts without worrying about word choice or structure, just get your ideas out.

4) Glance over your free write and look for rhythm, images, metaphors or analogies that you can use to structure your verse. Circle common phases (phrases that are cliché or over used), which you can change and words that do not accurately reflect what you want to say.

When structuring your verse try to invent fresh phrases and consider using some poetic devices.

Fresh phrases:

It is not fun to read the same lines thousands of times over. Your greeting card verse ought to be as distinctive as your relationships. Change over used phrases like, black as night, into something like as dark as the charcoaled fingertips of a fervent artist. You may want to use words that reflect the recipient's interests, if they are sports enthusiasts, for example use phrases like slam dunk, homerun, penalty box or top of your game.

Some poetic devices to consider using are:

  • Rhyme

    Rhyme is the repetition of sounds at the ends of words, often at the end of a line. However, it can be used within in a line, for example, You look up from your book/ and grimace at the menace, / a sublime feline.

  • Meter

    Meter, simply put is the pattern of the verse. It is similar to the drumbeat in a song; it keeps the pace and moves the words along. Keep in mind that you can interrupt meter to accentuate a point; the effect is like a metallic ring of a cymbal over a background of repetitive fluid beats. You can count out your syllables and create your own patterns; it can be even lines for example 10/10/10 like an isometric stanza or can vary like a sonnet that has eight lines with eight syllables followed by six lines with six syllables. Alternatively, you could write with a complex meter like, 8/6/4/8/6/4, just for amusement.

  • Alliteration

    This is the repetition of sound, usually consonants, such as flourishing flora or funky monkey.

  • Enjambment

    Most poets end their phrase or thought at the end of a line, but if you choose to carry your statement into the next line you may use enjambment, which may help with your rhyme scheme as well. For example, My leaping lab loves/ his Frisbee. He/, this places the rhyme on 'loves' and 'he' which is much easier to match than if you ended on Frisbee.

Write Precisely

Choose your words carefully and make sure that they convey what you want to say, that may seem obvious, but writers often fail to use the words that relate the tone, message or image they want to invoke. For example you may use the word “happy”, instead of “peaceful”, “energized”, “amorous” or

“elated” which are words that could more accurately relate what you are feeling. Also, do not use a word that doesn’t feel right just because it rhymes, you may have to rethink your rhyme scheme if you cannot get the verse to say what you want.

Be Specific

Use numbers, colors or other precise details in your verse, so that it seems like you carefully chose every word for the recipient and the matchless relationship that you have with them.

Once you have gone through the above steps and have employed a few poetic devices and exactness you are well on your way to writing an extraordinary and unique greeting card.

Some helpful online resources include: at

RhymeZone at

If you would like to learn more about meter, consider:

Poetic Rhythm: An Introduction Derek Attridege, Cambridge University Press (1996)

All the Fun's in How You Say a Thing: An Explanation of Meter and Versification Timothy Steele, Ohio University Pres (1999)

Rules for the Dance : A Handbook for Writing and Reading Metrical Verse Mary Oliver, Houghton Mifflin Company (1998)


You can visit Pamela Stevens at and reach her through

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