How To Write A Good Riddle

By: Jay Ketchum (author, Zablocki Bros. LLC) on July 8th, 2013 09:27 PM.


Writing a good riddle can be a difficult task. You want your riddle to be fun, interesting, and difficult, yet you don't want it to be so challenging that no one can solve it. To write a good riddle, you may approach the process from many ways, however, the most efficient approach is to work backwards and build from the answer up.

1. Think of an answer

To write a good riddle, you should think of a topic for your riddle that you enjoy. Next, think of the answer for your riddle. This will make it easy to develop interesting ways to ask your riddle. Your answer could be an object, a color, or anything that can be described. Note: Your answer should, though, be simple as complex answers may be too difficult for your solvers.

For example, suppose you enjoy cleaning and choose to write about a sponge. A sponge is a fairly simple object and most people are familiar with what a sponge is. There are also many descriptions that could be used for a sponge-based riddle. Similarly, there is the irony that a sponge has holes and yet holds water well; this could make for an interesting brain teaser.

2. Think of descriptions

On a sheet of paper, write down descriptions for your answer. These descriptions could be adjectives that describe the appearance, smell, taste, feel, or sound of the answer, or they could be verbs that pertain to actions related to your answer. For example, a chicken is soft, feathery, and small, also, chickens like to peck and cluck. You may also want to write down synonyms for these words as well as antonyms, or words that oppose them. Let your mind flow freely during this discovery stage.

Consider our sponge example, you could include in your list that a sponge is holey, has 6 sides, and is wet. Another way to say this is that a sponge has holes, a top, bottom, etc., and the sponge holds water.

3. Write your riddle

Think of clever ways to point your solver to the answer without being too obvious. Use plays on words, similes, metaphors, rhymes, and other devices to make your riddle both challenging and fun. Once you have written your riddle, read it aloud and re-write as necessary.

A good riddle for our sponge might be "I have holes in my top, bottom, left, right, and middle. But I still hold water. What am I?"

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