Why is it good to try writing poetry? Part 3

RT1-Tangmerewing[1]In Part 1, I suggested looking at the idea of writing a simple three verse poem as the basis and precursor to a story.


In Part 2, I added three more verses and it gave the story a little more foundation.

In this post, I’ll look at the main ingredients needed to write a short story. The other aspect of this, is of course to use the simple poem as a guide for the story’s plot.

I’ve got the basic story in poetic form, but I know even before writing the prose, the story may well alter from the one I started out with. That’s not an issue to be concerned about, because the main purposes of the poem were: to provide an outlet for an idea, and to form a basic structure.

What else do we need to consider?

1.  A decent title, but that is best left until after the story is written.

2.  A hook in the intro. A good intro will start with dialogue or action. I usually aim to start with action, a point of crisis I create within the first 30 words.

3.  If it’s a short story, we should keep the timescale short. It should be set over hours or days; not weeks or longer.

4. In line with the short timescale we should have a single plot line, no deviation or sub-plots to distract the reader.

5.  We are aiming to place a normal person in extraordinary circumstances and then make them react. We can also consider giving the main character an issue to deal with, which changes them in some way by the end of the story. There should be some progression.

6.  We should aim to keep the character count low; four or less if possible. Keep it intimate.

7.  Just as we should aim to have a ‘hook’ at the start to capture our reader, we should provide some back story to say how the character or characters got in the position they find themselves. Again, not too much information.

8.  As well as a good start with the hook, and back story, we must know how and when to stop. When the tale is told; stop. No extra bits and pieces. On occasion one more line might work, but mainly; reach the end and stop. Make sure the main character has resolved the conflict or crisis.

9. Try to use the senses when writing. Through good imagery, let the reader see, feel, smell, hear, what is going on. No flowery descriptions though; keep it brief.

10. Try to keep dialogue natural. How? Short and sharp exchanges are the most natural.

With all that in mind, and the poem, I’ve already written a few short passages. In my next post, I’ll produce a list of new titles that I’ve come up with to replace the working title.

I’ve imposed a target on myself of no more than 1500 words. That will stop me from waffling on, and it will keep the story tight. If you haven’t been given a word count target – impose one.

Once again, thank you for following. See you next time.



11 thoughts on “Why is it good to try writing poetry? Part 3

  1. W. K. Tucker

    All very good points you made relating to writing short fiction–and nonfiction as well. And I believe that when writing longer pieces, if one isn’t carful one can bog down the reader with too many details and descriptive phrases–most especially the “flowery speech”.
    Well said, Tom.


    1. Hi Kathy. Thanks for dropping by. The flowery descriptions that leap to mind are in the ‘classics’ like, ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’, ‘Tess of the D’urbervilles’ and suchlike. I don’t think we can afford the luxury of it with the modern reader.


      1. W. K. Tucker

        I agree. As much as I enjoy writing long, descriptive passages, I alway end up cutting most out. Just a few, well-chosen word, no more.


      2. Julia Lund

        I begin by writing far too much description, and then out comes the metaphorical red pen in the form of the delete button. In have to say, though, that I love well-written descriptive passages. One of the loveliest books I have read in recent times is Precious Bane by Mary Webb, written in 1924. Do you know it? Exquisite and so evocative.


      3. W. K. Tucker

        No, I haven’t heard of it, but will check it out. I enjoy reading lots of different genres, but my favorite–at the present–is dystopian fantasy/science fiction. I know, sort of strange for a 60 year woman. 🙂


  2. Julia Lund

    You give some good, practical tips here, Tom. Short stories aren’t really my forte, and, as with poetry,most of my efforts have ended up in the bin! I have a couple lurking around that I may dust off and rework …


    1. Thank you for dropping by Julia, and for the kind comments. Yes, I have a feeling you’ll enjoy reworking them too. I know I’m going on about it, but it is absolutely crucial to leave them aside for a few days after each draft. Okay, no more lectures. 🙂
      I’ll be over your way regularly, so I’ll be watching for a short story menu.


  3. Julia Lund

    😀 You may have a bit of a wait! I leave things to one side for months on end and sometimes, as with the short story I have just posted, years!


      1. Julia Lund

        Kathy, there’s no such thing as too old for any kind of book! My novel, Strong as Death, is a YA paranormal love story, and one of my biggest fans is almost eighty – and no, she isn’t related; I’ve never even met her!


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