Elements of Poetry You Can (And Should!) Adopt in Your Writing

Fall gets us all dreaming again, but it also brings us back to the basics.  I loved what the other editors had to say about transitioning this fall and making time to write, remembering the importance of voice and the “class rules” of publishing.

When I think about this season of intense beauty and rapid change, I think of poetry. To me, there is no season so poetic as autumn. There is death, change and beauty all at once. And, of couProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetrse, there are pumpkin drinks. 🙂

Now, let me be honest. A lot of poetry goes way over my head. I much prefer short stories, novels, even articles (at times) to poetry. But there are elements of this mysterious art that are absolutely essential to good manuscript writing–elements that are often missing from stories altogether.

Take a moment to look over these poetic elements to see if they are a part of your manuscript. If they’re not, don’t let your story sit another minute without them!

3 Elements of Poetry You Should Adopt

Sensory details/images — As MS writers, it’s easy to describe the way a place, person or object looks. However, we often leave out smells, sounds and touch. These other sensory details can really ground a moment in your story, make it unforgettable and even experiential for a reader. Do your descriptions make a reader smile, grimace, cover their mouth, even plug their noise? Watch someone read your writing; you’ll know whether or not you’re using great sensory details.

Metaphor— So many writers try to just kind of tip-toe by with a few lame metaphors. They might throw in a cliché simile once and a while, but good metaphor goes beyond “her hair was black as night.” Metaphor shouldn’t just link two similar things. At times, it should link two very diverse things. Sometimes it should surprise a reader; it should be visceral, memorable and unique. It might even link two different senses.

Pacing (Rhythm)— Good rhythm is essential in any poem, but it is also a key element of good story writing. Rhythm, or pacing as I prefer to call it, comes into play almost everywhere. Read aloud to see how quickly or slowly your dialogue is moving. Pay attention to the punctuation and physical space you use to slow down or pick up speed in a scene. Good pacing will be the difference between heart-quickening rising action and a climax that practically goes unnoticed.

How do you adopt said elements?

First, read. The best way to keep these elements in your writing is to put yourself around them. Find writers who clearly use these elements throughout their stories. Better yet, read poetry. Even if you don’t get it, you’re introducing yourself to new words, crazy (sometimes powerful) metaphor and carefully crafted pacing.

Second, scribble. Write down lines, metaphors and images that come to your mind throughout the day. If you’re driving and inspiration strikes, make a quick voice recording. Don’t let those moments slip by! If you come back to it and it’s garbage, no worries. It’s about putting poetic thinking/scribbling into your every day.

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