Of Poetry and Prose

According to Quizlet.com the 5 Features of Poetry are: Rhyme, Rhythm, Figurative Language, Shape, Mood. 

In this example, shape means stanzas of the poem. We will cross shape off of our things to borrow from poetry. Unless you are writing your novel as an epic poem, it's probably not something to worry about. But I like the number 5, so I'm going to replace it with alliteration. 

Borrowing heavily from poetry, is a good way to make your prose memorable. Let's deal with each feature by itself.

Rhyme: This is probably the second least helpful thing that poetry can lend to prose, but rhyming in a strategic place might be useful, especially if the character being illustrated is a small child. Children love rhymes, the deploy them everywhere. And learning rhymes helps kids learn how to read, so it's appropriate to add it to make the child's voice authentic. In addition adults use rhymes to remember things. So if you are tempted to make something rhyme, make sure it works in your story. 

Rhythm: This is probably the most useful thing a prose writer can borrow from poetry. By arranging syllables in stressed and unstressed patterns, you can make the words sound more pleasing to the ear. You should be reading your work out loud, recording it if you can, and listening to those recordings. You may never commission an audiobook of your manuscript, but most adults hear the words inside their heads as they read the words inside their heads. The rhythm of your words is very important to your prose.

Figurative Language: Simile, metaphor and personification will enrich your world immeasurably. Use them sparingly and well to keep from overwhelming your audience.

Alliteration: Rhymes are where the ends of the words match exactly alliteration is the opposite. This is where word start with the same sound. Use them in prose in sets of two or three, and in combination with rhythm to master the art of the written word.

Mood: Use mood to add color to your scenes and increase tension. It sits in the background of your word picture make the rest of the composition more alive. Mood is very useful. Done well, you never have to allude to it, just make a careful choice of words to further the concept. If a scene is supposed to be happy, fill it with happy images early. The reader is smart and will catch on, transitioning the scene without having to resort to filler. Likewise, you can use mood to foreshadow upcoming events by putting a dark mood into a happy scene.

What have you taken from poetry to help your prose? Feel free to leave a comment down below!


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