When you are writing… do you listen to what you are writing? Do you hear the sounds in your words? Especially if you write poetry… are you continuing the oral tradition of telling a tale that wants to be told?
Because writing … whether in prose or poetry, it all started as an oral tradition. Around before reading and writing was even considered. It was how carpenters learned to work, how children learned their history, how adventures were shared, in word and song. This is how life progressed before writing became common place. Therefore I ask, when you write, do you listen to what you are writing?
Recently I read these lines to my non-poetry loving lad and he chortled:
Like that mouse captured by Miss Lizzie
With a squeak and hop twisted out of her grip.
Like the spider.. caught between a wall and a tall menacing woman
Found a crevice to slide away into.
Run mouse. Hide spider…
He laughingly responded “Mom! That spider would never hurt you! Why do you have to threaten him?!” This tells me that he heard me well, that my poem was worth listening too. That’s a good thing no?
For when you write poetry, you want it to be memorable.. to be something others can share and pass around. You want the lyrics to flow well, for the rhyme to stick in your ear. Consider the poem Baa Baa Black Sheep.
Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags full;
One for the master,
And one for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.
Do you hear the rhyme when you read it? Doesn’t it flow off your tongue? The rhyming patterns that help you remember the ebb and flow. Do you hear any other sounds? The near rhymes, the alliteration, the repetition, and similar sounding words and nouns?
How do you learn to listen for sound?
Just how do authors learn to listen for sound in the words they write?
Practice of course.
- Just keep practicing and playing around with words.
- Make a list of words you enjoy.
- Write a boring sentence and see how you can change the words to mean the same thing but just sounding better and/or more interesting.
- Try out different phrases, play with the timing and the rhymes.
You don’t just want to use the first words that come to mind, but you want to play round with sounds (alliteration, assonance, consonance, repetition, rhythm and rhyme) until what you hear is memorable. Read it out loud and let it flow off the tongue until it pleases you. Then test it out and see if it pleases another.
Let your words flow, tell your story, and tell it well.
I made a printable to help learn these skills. Click on image below to download.