Updated: May 9, 2021
My love letter to life~
I wanna make something of myself, and 'corporate slave' is hardly an option. If you are trying to break out of the rat race like me and delve into poetry, read on to learn the five poem writing hacks I have picked on in my year-long career as a published poet-
1. Remove Emotive Words
Let’s play a game. Which of the two lines solicit a stronger reaction from you:
‘It made me feel sorrowful’
‘It felt as if a million fireflies had burned themselves to death’
‘His presence felt suffocating’
‘Every time he was here, it felt like someone was shoving pebbles down my throat.’
While getting poetry advice, we often hear the phrase ‘show not tell’ but never truly understand the importance of it. If you tell the readers how you feel, they know a story. But if you show them how you feel, with similes and metaphor, they live the emotion with you. Yes, it’s true that you shouldn’t use superfluous words or sentences, but imagery is the most powerful tool for triggering emotion. Readers want to feel something, make them.
2. Avoid Cliches
You want to surprise the reader and give them something they haven’t read before. If you make overused rhymes like ‘trees-bees,’ ‘rhyme-time,’ ‘pool-cool,’ the reader will not find anything unique in your poem structure. As beginners, it is always safe to go with free verse, but if you do choose to make your poem rhyme, it's preferable to go with unexpected combinations.
A trick is listening to raps. Rappers usually come up with innovative ways to make verses rhyme. Remember when Eminem made ‘orange’ rhyme with a bunch of different words?
They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars - on stars where no human race is.
3. Go blind
As writers, we focus too much on visual imagery. And while visual imagery is a powerful device, only using pictures can make the poem sound like a description of a painting. All the other senses are equally important. While editing your poem, try reading it from the perspective of a congenitally blind person. Will they feel anything when they read it? If not, then it’s time to make some edits.
Right there in the dockets stood the man who had ruined my soul. Her honour banged the gavel and it felt like she had banged it against my ear. I smelled stale potatoes, some cheap perfume. I remembered the scent from the other night. He turned his face to look at me, bile touched the back of my throat. He smiled.
4. Create Conflict
Who doesn’t love a story? Who doesn’t wanna root for something to the point that the character's rebellion becomes their fight? Who doesn’t wanna be proved right? It is always smart to juxtapose two forces against each other. Make two personalities, two opinions, two philosophies clash, and make both equally attractive and convincing.
5. Turn the world upside down
Ninja grannies and a conniving shoe. Plot twist: Hitler is a jew! Write something that makes readers do a double take. Don’t shy away from breaking the most obvious of archetypes, as long as you can attach a substantial meaning to it.
There you have it! A few hacks I swear by. I hope you find success in your quest to become a poet. And if you write just for the love of poetry, I hope you keep falling deeper and deeper into it. Just never stop writing.