There are so many literary works out there that just sound nice and flowy. This poeticism is great and looks simple enough to do, yet it’s sometimes hard to achieve that in personal writing endeavors.
Just like any other skill, making your writing more poetic takes a lot of time and practice. Here are some methods to help with more poetic writing:
- Start small
- Draw from real experiences
- Be concrete and simplistic
- Show, don’t tell
- Use poetic devices
It’s going to take some time to really get into the swing of more poetic writing, but it can be done. Keep reading for five ways to get a more poetic sound embedded into your writing.
Learning how to do anything takes time and practice. That includes learning how to be more poetic in your writing. It’s not going to be something that can be learned overnight, so take baby steps and remember that any progress is still progress, no matter how small.
So, to start small, consider some of the following:
- Jot down things that sound poetic in other works
- Read and write some short poems
- Keep notes on things that make you feel a certain way
- Practice frequently, even with small, unrelated drabbles
Behind every success story, there have been thousands of failures, rejects, and hours poured into making it happen. One thing they all have in common is that at one point, they started small and worked their way up.
Take from Real Experiences
Nothing is better and more realistic feeling than real events. However, that’s not always what is being written about, so it takes a little bit of creativity to shove a realistic feeling into something that isn’t.
When writing anything from characters to something heavily emotional, take from real life experiences. Use things that have been personally experienced and put just a small kernel of that into whatever is being written about. In the end, it will feel more realistic and poetic without trying.
Some real experiences to pull from to help make writing feel more poetic might include:
- The intense joy from doing something really fun
- That swell of pride seeing a loved one finally get something they’ve been struggling with
- Crushing despair from mourning a significant loss
- Extreme anger when there’s been preventable wrongdoing
- The overwhelming awe from seeing something that feels bigger than life
Even the best lies have a tiny bit of truth in them, and the most well-spoken people know how to pour in emotions to get their audience to feel the way they want to. Writing is the same way, so pulling from real experiences really adds to the value of the work.
Be Simplistic and Concrete
Poetic writing doesn’t need to be bogged down with overly flashy terminology. That just makes it look like the author is trying to use up their entire lexicon in one phrase, which in turn makes it hard to follow. Use simple, standard comparisons to things that make it so that readers have something concrete they can use to mentally compare.
Also, be sure to avoid clichés and idioms, as these quickly end up in tacky, offensive, and outdated territory much faster than expected.
Here are a few ways to ensure concrete simplicity:
- Use specific word choices
- Compare common experiences, objects, and knowledge to something that isn’t
- Cut down on flashy terms
- Shorten up sentences
Not everyone has the same experiences, but there are a lot of things that people understand from a shared experience. Using this common ground makes it infinitely easier to find phrasing that is understandable, relatable, and beneficial to the overall quality of the piece. In turn, this can help make it easier to decide what sorts of things really need to be shown.
Show, Don’t Tell
One of the most commonly heard phrases in writing is “Show, don’t tell.” What that is saying literally means show what is happening through the writing rather than directly saying it.
Some quick examples:
|[X] was tired.||[X] yawned and their eyes drooped.|
|[X] was scared.||[X]’s hands shook, and a wide-eyed expression crossed their face.|
|[X] was beautiful.||[X] had all of the vibrance of the sun.|
|[X] tasted disgusting.||It was like [X] was made of the most rancid ingredients found in the back of the kitchen pantry.|
|[X] was rough.||[X] felt like sandpaper.|
Use the senses when explaining things instead of just saying what is happening. It allows the reader to draw on their own senses and helps with the overall quality and poeticism of the piece. Using poetic devices also helps show rather than tell, as they also typically draw on the senses and common comparisons.
Use Poetic Devices
Poetic devices are there for a reason. They are more florid ways of writing that help draw comparisons in a more understandable context. Think of a work that inherently sounds more poetic, and chances are they are full of these. Also known as a figure of speech, these three devices really help add a more poetic element to the work simply by existing.
A simile is a direct comparison of two or more things that may or may not be related using the words “like” or “as.”
Some examples of a simile:
- The stars shone like diamonds.
- It was hot as fire.
- Her look was as cold as ice.
- They were hard as nails.
Now, let’s take a look at metaphors.
Much like a simile, a metaphor is a comparison of two or more things without using the words “like” or “as” to make a direct comparison of things that might not otherwise be related. Extended metaphors exist over multiple lines.
Some examples of a metaphor:
- He was a rock.
- She was on fire during her performance.
- They sweat out a whole lake.
- Love is a battlefield.
Now, let’s take a look at hyperboles.
A hyperbole is an obvious and intentional exaggeration to be used for an effect.
Some common hyperboles:
- My feet are killing me!
- This weighs a ton!
- I’m so hungry I could die!
Now you know how to write more poetically.
Poetic writing really looks a lot easier than it feels sometimes. It always seems to convey that perfect level of emotion coupled with beautiful visuals and stunning word choice. The good news is that with some time and practice, any writing can feel more poetic. Start small and always remember that any progress is still progress, no matter how small. Soon that writing will be ripe with poeticism and quality unlike ever before.
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Show, Don’t Tell: How to Show Not Tell in Writing With Exercises
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