For the love of beautiful language…

[edited from a post I wrote in 2016]

My writer friends, do you ever find yourself using the same or similar words and phrases over and over again? It’s inevitable. We tend to write the way we talk. Most of us use a characteristic phraseology that makes up our everyday language. Our speech may be reflective of the region we live in, our ethnic origins or even our age. While these peculiarities lend color and flavor to our writing, even they can get repetitive after a while. It will be especially evident if we write longer fiction pieces or novels. What can we do to add variations to the words we pen?

Some of my earliest writing was in the form of poetry. That is not a coincidence. Poetry is introduced to us in the cradle by means of nursery rhymes and bedtime lullabies. As we grow and mature into our teen years and beyond, often music becomes a huge influence. Thus the lyrics of songs speak to us the way nothing else can. Many musicians like Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Patty Smith, Joni Mitchell, and Bruce Springsteen are considered to be not just song writers but poets as well.

Anthropologically, poetry in the form of song or saga has been used to help the balladeer or the skald keep the oral history of a people alive through story telling. It is some of the earliest writing ever discovered. The Epic of Gilgamesh, for example, dates back to 2000 BCE. Another Sumerian text, The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor, may be even older than that.

What am I getting at, you ask? Poetry composition can be a delightful way to hone our skills in using creative vocabulary and illustative terminology. “But, I don’t want to be a poet,” you say. Shut up, yes you do. Here’s why…

I do enjoy writing poetry, but it is not my main avenue of expression. I am primarily a fiction writer. However, composing poetry demands that we paint a picture with our words, if you will. Putting things into verse, even if the verse doesn’t rhyme, pushes you to use descriptive and colorful terms that you wouldn’t use in day-to-day speech.

In describing my front lawn, for example, you could simply state, “the lawn was full of dead dandelions,” and that would be true! Before you write that ask, “What do those dandelions remind me of?” “What idea do they conjure?” They are dead, so how about headstones in a graveyard? They are skinny, so how about emaciated refugees fleeing a disaster or famine? They have tufts of thin, white spores… does that remind you of hair or clouds or even foam at the crest of a wave? Now write it like this, “Like a wave of fleeing refugees, the dandelions marched across the expanse of grass.”

I didn’t write a poem, but I wrote a poetic sentence. Obviously, a little of that can go a long way, too. Every sentence does not have to be metaphorical in nature. But in the right place, it can transform ordinary writing into extraordinary writing. I encourage you, if you have not attempted to write poetry before now, give it a try. Follow other poets here on WordPress; there are a multitude of talented poets to choose from. Learn the different styles and structures. Perhaps you will find you want to be a poet, after all!

54 thoughts on “For the love of beautiful language…

  1. My love for Poetry was beaten out of me in High School and College when I had to dissect verses for meter, significance and whatnot. To this day, I have a hard time reading anything poetic without instinctively falling back on those teachings. I agree though that we tend to write how we speak and I’ve encountered writing classes in the past that stressed a conversational tone when writing prose.

    Very good piece you banged out here. 🙂

    Liked by 6 people

      1. That’s awesome! I’m sure I had those same classes in school, but my teacher must’ve loved poetry because I remember being more inspired than discouraged to write. Btw, I have a lot of catching up to do on your blog! 😳 Will be binge reading at some point!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Heh, make some popcorn because I’ve been adding to it a lot lately. Especially the new stories.
        As for writing, I never felt discouraged from it in school. In fact, it was my 10th Grade English teacher who recognized that I had some ability and to continue doing it. She was an awesome lady.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “Shut up, yes you do.” LOL! I think you know what happened to me. I never thought I’d write poetry and when I signed up for the Blogging U course, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t even think I liked poetry! But I began to love it… and it has definitely spilled over into my fiction writing. Sometimes I hate that the majority of my posts are poems now. That was never my intention. But I suppose they are really tiny pieces of fiction. (Or tiny stories of my reality.) And I don’t need a complex plot to feel that I’ve written something “good”…

    Liked by 6 people

  3. I write both poetry and fiction myself. So I completely agree with you that the one helps the other! Excellent post. Your poem about war the other day was amazing. You should do that more often.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you! Tales of War actually fits in with a serial fiction piece I am writing. I’d set it aside for a while but now I’m getting back to it. The poem was sort of a transition piece. Again, thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am very fond of poetry and love reading them, but not very good at writing them! But this really works well, your advice here, works well! I am going to try doing it by visualizing and connecting it to metaphors!
    My writing is very conversational and I tend to use words like ‘So’ a lot, I keep reminding myself that I should let go of that habit! 😀

    P.S: Thank you for mentioning my challenge! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I’ve never been much of a fan of poetry, but reading other bloggers work has made me reconsider. I may just try my hand at it one day.
    Also, I love stumbling upon words that are new to me. Thanks for introducing me to “skald.” 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. There are so many varieties of poetry, I don’t fancy all of them myself. They need to tell a story for me. But the use of descriptive language is certainly a help to any form of creative writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Nice post. I find every format of writing can help with the other formats. Poetry is about getting the right words. Screen writing needs crisp concise description and action. Each one will help novelists like us getting the write description and words.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Omg yes!! I couldn’t agree with you more Meg. I was a novice (am still a novice) when it comes to poetry, but it has opened up a new perspective on writing for me with my use of words and structure and terminology.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I cannot write a rhyme for toffee
    I much prefer my tea to coffee
    I can’t abide those sets of rules
    it seems I need a box of tools
    we all should write just what we want
    in any style, in any font
    in writing terms you are the boss
    if no one reads then that’s their loss!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. 😃😃😃
      It seems you’re wrong about rhyming
      This was perfect timing
      You’re quite the poet
      You always show it
      So rules be damned
      Give Peter a great big hand!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. A wonderful text Meg. Relatively speaking there are few people interested in poetry though they may love to read books of different genre’s . Frankly, my group of poets here are the only one’s I know. I think it does involve a sensitivity that a lot of folks don’t have or want. I really love your post today Meg!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks so much, Holly! I think you’re right about poetry. Though it has gained a little in popularity thanks to blogs and social media platforms like Instagram. Nevertheless it still remains a niche amongst all writing. But I truly believe poetry can help the non poet write better!

      Liked by 1 person

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