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Structuring Your Poem

Updated on July 14, 2015

Here are some poetic terms for your reference.

Everything in life requires structure, writing is no different. But the way that you structure your writing does vary. When writing a novel for example you have the basics: characters, the plot, setting, point of view. If you don't have any of these 4 things you need to get back to the drawing board. The way that you introduce them is up to you, they don’t need to be in a specific order but they do need to exist.

Poetry is a little different. Let’s look at the definition of structure first. Structure is defined as the arrangement of and relations between the parts or elements of something complex. Poetry is one of those writing forms that scare a lot of people away. Although it seems scary there is a method to the madness if you break it apart.

Once I have the message I want to transmit I write down all I know about the subject and pour out my heart and soul on paper. I like poems that rhyme and carry a rhythm on their own so when I write I make sure that the reader not only understands what I’m trying to say but they also feel how I felt when I wrote it. If I can’t transmit that emotion then I keep writing until I can.

Let's take the phrase "Vague Expressions" for example. The first thing I do to create the structure of my poem is think about words that match the basic concept of what I want to say. Then I look for those that happen to rhyme and start writing.

Let's begin: I'm getting tired of these vague expressions

Perfect, now that I have the first line I ask myself why or what about vague expressions is tiring, now don't get me wrong it sounds tedious but you don't do this process like this every time. Once you start writing more often you will see that it gets easier and habitual. That’s when you know you’re getting better at writing, when all of the rules and guidelines fade into the background and you let the words flow.

I'm getting tired of these vague expressions
Turbulent sessions
He said, she said dramatic obsessions
Why can't we just let it go?

Like in any other form of writing you always want to answer who, what, when, where, why and how. Your poem doesn't have to rhyme, nor does it have to be written in stanzas or any other form. Poetry is about expression, and you will express yourself in any way you feel like doing so that’s why the free verse exists. The one thing your writing always need to have is that structure, it needs to show that you do have something to say and the receiver needs to capture the message you are trying to transmit.

I'm horrible at repossessions
Can't stand all these indiscretions
This is turning into another profession
How much more do I need not show?

Here I have created a flow, the first three lines end with a word that rhymes and the 4th line ends with a word that rhymes with the last word of every 4th line. I don’t always do this but every so often I will play around with different ways of structure and create unique pieces that suit me but are able to suit other people to.

Watch the video below for a quick guide to writing a poem!

If we keep reading the poem we will see that ultimately the reason why I dislike vague expressions so much is because it's hindering my relationship. Love tends to drive people a bit crazy and poetry is a great way to express how you feel without necessarily taking it out on your other half and eventually making things worse.

Here is the entire poem for your reading pleasure:

I'm getting tired of these vague expressions
Turbulent sessions
He said, she said, dramatic obsessions
Why can't we just let it go?

I'm horrible at repossessions
Can't stand all these indiscretions
This is turning into another profession
How much more do I need not show?

Ultimately the goal is always to say things in a way that will attract people to read. Writers don’t have much of a future without readers just like entertainers don’t have much of a future without people to entertain. Most resources out there talk about structuring essays or articles but they can work for poetry too.

Writing is a very technical job regardless of what you write about so make sure you are familiar with all the rules and their exceptions because even if you do it for fun not following those rules may cause someone to get turned off.

Happy Writing!


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