Add a Touch of Poetry to Your Articles

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Too much writing contains just the facts. But your writing can be so much richer with a touch of poetry.

In “The Seven Beacons of Excellent Writing” (Writer’s Digest, 1984), Gary Provost says writers can lift the reader “a few feet off the ground, to slip between him and the earth a layer of wonder and imagination . . .” that leads to a realm of thought “alive with energy and inspiration. This is poetry,” Provost writes, “and it can happen in a sentence or it can happen in a word.”

Provost makes me want to soar beyond the content of my writing and enrich my reader with renewed vision.

In “The Best Gift We Can Give” (Reader’s Digest, May 1987), I put his advice into practice and have ever since.

First draft (just the facts)

Last spring, after a long day spent raking pine needles and pulling weeds at our weekend home, I hobbled into the house. My husband stayed behind to put away the tools. As I stepped into the shower, I heard a rap on the window. Charles asked me to join him outside to enjoy the sunset. I shut off the water, slipped into a bathrobe, and met him just in time to see the sun slip behind the mountain.

Final draft (poetic touches added)

Last spring, after a long day spent raking pine needles and pulling weeds at our weekend home, I hobbled exhausted into the house. My husband stayed behind to put away the tools. As I stepped into the shower, I heard a rap on the bathroom window. I peeked out and there Charles stood smiling at me, his face smudged, his eyes bright.

“What’s up?” I called over the pelting water.

“Not much,” he answered. “I miss you, that’s all. The sun’s almost down,” he added gently, pointing toward the mountain, “and I want you here beside me as the day ends.”

Here was a gesture so slight, but a gift so lovely, it took my breath way. I wouldn’t miss this moment of togetherness for anything.

Add a touch of poetry to your writing and see where it takes you––and your reader.

Karen O’Connor is a mentor for the Christian Writers Guild and an award-winning author of books and articles for children and adults. Visit her online.

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5 Responses to Add a Touch of Poetry to Your Articles

  1. Rachel Ann Rogish says:

    Beautiful!

  2. Peter DeHaan says:

    This is a great example and most helpful. Thank you for sharing it!

  3. Nancy Maggio says:

    Beautiful change. The picture was painted and inviting.

  4. cathrine McCulloch says:

    Karen, your writing example reminds me of my singing. I sing pro and I find too many singers sing without feeling where it is needed. Your example shows this same word picture. To write with feeling or just write for the sake of writing. Thank you for the encouragement :)
    Cathrine McCulloch

  5. Kathleen Friesen says:

    I love the word picture you painted with your revised paragraph. My first novel needs more poetic language, so I am reading authors I especially enjoy. There seem to be two kinds of poetic language in the books I’ve read: the first paints a picture that draws me deeper into the story, and the second impresses me while interrupting the storyline (“that’s a beautiful phrase; now, where were we?”).