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The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Writing Poetry

Updated on June 25, 2013
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Poetry is an artistic form of expression which anyone can write, but to write great poetry requires an understanding of basic. There are many misconceptions that people have about poetry, and because of these misconceptions, people writing poetry for the first time make some common mistakes. In the beginning these mistakes are harmless and it's better to write poetry with mistakes than to not write poetry at all, but if you want to be taken seriously as a poet you must learn what these mistakes are. The examples below are some of the most common mistakes people make when writing poetry.


Confusing Poetry With Prose

There are two basic ways people communicate with one another, poetry or prose. Poetry by definition is considered metered verse which encompasses certain elements such as simile, metaphor, rhyming, repetition, etc.... Prose is any other form of communication that isn't poetry. While both forms of communication can be beautiful in their own way it's important to not confuse the two. Many people use the argument that they write their poetry in free verse, but even if you don't use meter in your verse there should be some of the other poetic elements within it.


Rhyming Without Reason

Many people think they can write a bunch of lines down and rhyme when they feel like it, but this common mistake really detracts from a poem. The reason for rhyming is to give poetry a sing song quality, and when a specific rhyme scheme isn't used the flow of the words sounds garbled and ugly. Look at the example below to understand this error completely.


Bad example:

The woman wore black

When death was knocking at her door,

She had a bad heart

And it caused an attack

Death tore her apart.

She hit the floor

As death opened the door.


Good example:

The woman wore black

As death came knocking at her door

Her heart was weak from attack

So she fell and hit the floor.


As you can see, the example above has rhyming words, but without a specific order there is no flow to the words. The example below shows the words in a specific rhyme scheme and it gives the words a better sound.


Using Clich├ęd Rhyming Couplets

With millions of words in any language there are infinite combinations of rhyming couplets that can be used, but people for some reason used the same rhyming couplets over and over again. This isn't really a mistake. It's just frowned upon in the poetic community, and therefore should be avoided when possible. Below is a list of the most over used rhyming couplets in poetry:

  • Love + Above
  • Life + Strife
  • Poet + Know it
  • Day + Way
  • Never + Ever
  • Time + Crime


There are many more overly used rhyming couplets. The best thing a poet can do to avoid this problem is to expand his vocabulary and experiment with new words.


Too Many Random Thoughts

A great poem connects ideas so when a person reads it, he can make the connection without a lot of explanation. Beginners tend to write a bunch of random thoughts that really don't connect to each other, so the message in the poem is completely lost. If you want to write an amazing poem, pick a single message and express it with each line of the poem. Paint the picture so vividly that a reader can't help but understand.


After seeing these examples you will come to understand that while anyone can write a poem, it takes a lot of work to write a great poem. Poetry isn't about slapping together some words that rhyme just to say something in a unique way. There are a lot of elements that go into writing great poetry, and a true poet will study his craft and expand his knowledge of these elements. If you love poetry then give it the respect it is due, and try hard not to commit these most common mistakes in writing poetry.





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    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 3 years ago from Reno NV

      Great advice! Thank you. Jamie

    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 5 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      very much useful and the fact remains no one can teach you the expressions in poetry, voted up

    • PHILLYDREAMER profile image
      Author

      Jose Velasquez 5 years ago from Lodi, New Jersey

      Thanks Ashish

    • ashish04joshi profile image

      Ashish Joshi 5 years ago from India

      Nice hub Philly...

      I feel a beautiful poem flows only through a beautiful soul. That's when a free verse arranges itself into poetry!

      'up', 'useful' and 'interesting'...

    • PHILLYDREAMER profile image
      Author

      Jose Velasquez 5 years ago from Lodi, New Jersey

      Poetry is 90% expression, and 10 % technique. There are some basics you can learn, but the fact is no one can ever teach you how to express yourself.

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 5 years ago

      These are very good tips. I am interested in learning how to write poetry. Should I take a course?

    • PHILLYDREAMER profile image
      Author

      Jose Velasquez 5 years ago from Lodi, New Jersey

      As long as I can offer something, I will always try to share my knowledge. I too still have a lot to learn, especially about following my own advice, because I am guilty of doing some of these things too, but I did a bit of research just to make sure I was leading everyone in the right direction.

    • Jennifer Stone profile image

      Jennifer Stone 5 years ago from the Riverbank, England

      Thanks PHILLYDREAMER, useful info for a learner poet such as myself! :-)

    • Fennelseed profile image

      Annie Fenn 5 years ago from Australia

      Thank you for this informative hub, Phillydreamer. I have a lot to learn, but as they say its never to late!!! My votes to you and sharing.

    • PHILLYDREAMER profile image
      Author

      Jose Velasquez 5 years ago from Lodi, New Jersey

      I might write some more Hubs on this topic, I just want to make sure the information is being absorbed.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 5 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      I found this very illuminating, as someone who is relatively new to writing, and absolutely love poetry.

      I'm always learning and gets very excited when I discover something new. Thank you for sharing this.

    • PHILLYDREAMER profile image
      Author

      Jose Velasquez 5 years ago from Lodi, New Jersey

      Believe it or not I was going to compare it to painting, but I decided to keep it all about poetry for the readers sake.

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Like the oil paintings I paint, poetry builds upon itself. A word, like one brush stroke, changes everything. I find poetry challenging like a jigsaw puzzle, inspired by everything, from the mundane to profound experiences. It is an emotional, cerebral art form that makes for meaningful fun. I love it.

      Your article is very helpful and I concur with your observations 100%.

    • PHILLYDREAMER profile image
      Author

      Jose Velasquez 5 years ago from Lodi, New Jersey

      Epic poetry is an exception, because it's more important to tell the story. Rhyming is very hard to use for such poetry.

    • writeyourwrongs profile image

      John Crowley 5 years ago from Sheffield

      Having said that though, I just finished a pretty epic poem which is split into five parts, and one of the common themes running throughout involves rhyming time with crime... lol. Don't worry though,despite the fact that what you say is true and this couplet is rhymed far too often, I do have a good expansive vocabulary it's just this particular poem was an exception to the rule as both time and crime were needed in the situation (rather than just using them because nothing else could be thought of)

    • writeyourwrongs profile image

      John Crowley 5 years ago from Sheffield

      Cracking bit of writing PhillyDreamer. Shared.

    • PHILLYDREAMER profile image
      Author

      Jose Velasquez 5 years ago from Lodi, New Jersey

      LOL. Chris I was just trying to demonstrate a point about rhyme scheme. I intended for neither one of those to be considered poems.

    • PHILLYDREAMER profile image
      Author

      Jose Velasquez 5 years ago from Lodi, New Jersey

      Thank you M K Paul, I want to encourage everyone to write poetry, and to work hard at making their poetry great.

    • PHILLYDREAMER profile image
      Author

      Jose Velasquez 5 years ago from Lodi, New Jersey

      Inspiration comes from everywhere. Emotions are the best source because it helps people connect with your work.

    • PHILLYDREAMER profile image
      Author

      Jose Velasquez 5 years ago from Lodi, New Jersey

      HLKeeley, just write what ever comes to your head in 2 minutes down on paper, whether it makes sense or not, and even if it's a bunch of nonsense you should be able to piece together a poem from some of it.

    • profile image

      Chris Hugh 5 years ago

      I think I liked the first poem better. The second one rhymed too well. A poem about a violent death should be jagged. Just my opinion.

    • M K Paul profile image

      M K Paul 5 years ago from India

      I love poetry and try to write ...Your hub really helpful...voted up

    • stormoverdestiny profile image

      stormoverdestiny 5 years ago from Deep within the heart of the storm

      Another issue people run into is not being fully connected to where they draw their creativity or inspiration from. What personally works for me is to pull from the various emotions, situations, and ideas then blend them into a wonderful image

    • HLKeeley profile image

      HL Keeley 5 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      I try to write poetry, but it is so hard for me to write. I will start and then give up. It is the worse writer's block I get.

    • PHILLYDREAMER profile image
      Author

      Jose Velasquez 5 years ago from Lodi, New Jersey

      These are just a few that Ive seen and committed myself. I will never try to down someones work, but I urge all who love poetry to work at their craft.

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      Thank you thank you for these ideas. sometimes Im also grasping for thoughts and words that will make the poem flow smoothly. :) all my votes