April was National Poetry Month, a fabulous celebration of one of my favorite genres of literature. Earlier this month, we celebrated on this blog with Spine Poems and a wonderful interview with Children’s Poet Amy VanDerwater. But now that the month has drawn to a close, we wanted to give you some ways to keep the lessons of National Poetry Month close to our (writer’s) hearts.
In honor of National Poetry Month, here are three poetic devices that all writers should consider adding to their author’s toolboxes:
- Meter. Basically, think rhythm, not rhyme (necessarily). Have you ever listened to a song that was so catchy that you couldn’t keep from tapping your feet? Find ways to add that pulse to your prose. If you can get your reader so caught up in the cadence of your words, he or she won’t be able to put your book down.
- Onomatopoeia. Not only is that the most fun word in the world to say (and if you use it in your writing, you can ask people, “Did you notice all the onomatopoeia?” And that might be your only chance to use that word naturally in a sentence in a given day) but it is actually a very powerful technique to bring more of your reader’s senses into the scene. Think of how much more powerful it is to use a well-placed crash, hic, achoo!, or BANG! Than simply saying, “All the dishes fell to the floor,” or “Right in the middle of my speech, I started hiccupping.”
- Alliteration. Did you notice above when I was extolling the virtues of meter, I used phrases like “pulse to your prose” and “caught up in the cadence”? The simple addition of alliteration makes the phrasing more musical, more lyrical – more poetic. When you’re searching for the perfect word to form your sentences, think about those words in relation to the others – and find the alliteration to elevate your writing.
We’ll see you next April for the next celebration of National Poetry Month!
By the way, in case you are interested in learning more about incorporating poetic techniques into your writing, please consider joining me for either my new online course From Storyteller to Exquisite Writer: The Pleasures and Craft of Poetic Techniques at the Children’s Book Academy or for a free webinar titled Why All Writers Need to Know Poetic Techniques and How to Use Them on Monday May 12th at 9PM Eastern/ 6PM Pacific Time!