The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words

Do Your Words Flow?

One of the biggest problems with written word is that the reader usually doesn’t know the mood of the writer; they cannot see the facial expressions or hear the voice inflections. For instance, my parents absolutely hate text messages. They always say the same thing “why don’t you just pick up the phone and call me real fast?” Most people only recognize that something is a joke if it’s followed by an “lol” or a “haha”. But how can we get our message across on a screen? If writing is done well enough, a tone is established by the words. People should be able to read your writing and know whether or not it is sarcasm or a serious statement.

All writing has a natural rhythm, a natural flow to the words. This flow can be influenced by many things: the placement of punctuation, alliteration, the stacking of stressed syllables, to name a few. As a writer, it is important that you craft your sentences to sound exactly the way you want them to sound. Do you use passive voice or active voice? Do you break the line or simply put in a comma or dash? Internal rhyme or external rhyme? Or both?

Personally, I create my poetry by writing, deleting, writing, deleting, until I create one line that sparks an idea and then I use the natural flow of those words as a base for the rest of the poem. The real nuts and bolts of “good” writing happen in the editing process. Until I have a majority of the words down on paper, I continue the natural progression and allow the poem to happen. The words that you put down on paper should be able to be spoken out loud and still sound exactly like they did in your head. This might require you to go back through your piece and change a word you used to one with fewer syllables, or add punctuation and line breaks. If your poetry is meant to live on the page then it must have its own established flow that allows the reader to be drawn in to your words. If your poetry is meant to live off the page then there must be a rhythm that catches the ear of the listener and allows them to follow along without getting bored. The term “dry writing” is not a reference to the message you are trying to get across; it is a reference to the flow of the words. If the words don’t flow=dry. Sometimes, the flow of your writing is as important as the message you’re trying to get across.

This is particularly important in song writing. Every line of poetry has its own rhythm. A great song can be read as if the soundtrack is playing in your head. When you’re writing a song, do you write the lyrics to a beat or do you write the lyrics and then let the beat be created by the flow of the words? Some people choose to write the chorus and then create the song around the central message that’s located in the chorus. Others write their songs as a story, beginning and ending on an established timeline. Some songs (like the Grammy’s song of the year, “Royals”- by Lorde) have a long chorus that’s repeated until the song is over, with a few lines inserted here and there to break up the repeating chorus. Are any of these styles better than the others? Everyone has their own opinions on how a person should approach the page but as long as a solid product emerges from the struggle, it doesn’t matter how you choose to create it, as long as it flows.

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This entry was posted on January 28, 2014 by in COMMENTARY and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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