April is national poetry month, so it seemed appropriate to write a post about poems. In line with the general theme of my blog, I’m focusing on what writing poetry can teach us about writing novels. Having studied poetry as part of my university course, these are the three important things I found:
Creative metaphor and expressive language
Language is essential in all writing, of course it is, but this is particularly true of poetry. Poetry can teach us a lot about prose and finding our unique creative voice. When writing a poem, you’re forced to truly consider language that expresses your feelings, thoughts and message. It also encourages you to get creative with metaphor, getting your message across in ways that are thought provoking and able to be interpreted in different ways.
Cutting out unimportant words
Poetry is all about being concise, and words become extremely valuable. To ensure your form, pattern and/or beat work, you are restricted by the number of words you can use to get your point across. This is a vital skill in novel writing too, because although it may feel like the word count doesn’t matter, you will actually bore readers if you’re saying too much.
Capturing the essence of a story
Some poems are long. But, typically, they aren’t novel length, and many are very short. Yet they manage to capture a story. Not always a traditional tale with a beginning, middle and end, but a story nonetheless. Poetry teaches you to capture an emotion, a moment, an experience, or a meaningful message, without using thousands of words to do it. And even if you are writing a novel, and do have the luxury of using thousands of words, it’ still vital you capture the essence of the story you’re telling, rather than getting too carried away with backstories and unimportant subplots.
I’m not a huge poetry writer. I’ve written some for uni, and I did go through a phase during the pandemic of writing a lot of poems. Though it’s not my forte, I always enjoy it, and I’m always grateful for anything that teaches me writing skills.
Are you a poet? Have you learned any skills through poetry that you’ve applied to your novel writing? Share your thoughts below!