Writing Well

An Affair to Remember

Poetry is a special kind of writing, for it allows you to say things you can't say in prose. Writing poetry gives you a chance to fall in love all over again—with life, language, and literature.

Here are some ideas to get you started writing poetry:

  1. Try an acrostic poem from your name. Run the letters of your first or last name vertically down the page. Then write a line for each letter that describes your personality, hopes, and dreams.
  2. Since poetry is based on sound, collect some pleasant-sounding words and use them to spark ideas for a poem.
  3. Write a poem in list form that names or describes things. Include as many specific details as you can. Check Whitman's “I Hear America Singing” for a model.
  4. Write a poem that directly addresses someone or something. Perhaps describe some unfinished business you have with that person or why that person is so special. Address the subject directly, by name, to help you keep the focus.
  5. Take a narrative, perhaps something you wrote in “Tell Me a Story: Narration”, and retell the story as a poem.
  6. As you write your poem, say each line out loud. Pay attention to the words and the feelings they evoke. This will help you select the precise word you need.

Revise your poems by sharpening the language. Add specific words and vivid images. Condense draggy lines by eliminating unnecessary adjectives and adverbs, too. You might have to rearrange stanzas to make your meaning clear or emphasize the mood. Then publish your poem by sharing it with a friend, relative, or colleague. You might want to join a writers' group (check your local library or adult education for a list). If your community doesn't have a writers' group, why not start your own?

book cover

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Well © 2000 by Laurie Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book direct from the publisher, visit the Penguin USA website or call 1-800-253-6476. You can also purchase this book at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

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