Write concrete thoughts and images, not abstract ones. We want to see, hear, smell, taste and feel what you write.
- Use the active voice, not the passive voice. We want the subject to do the action, which draws us into the emotions. For the differences between the two, here.
- Utilize action verbs, not linking verbs. We want to feel the pop of the action, the sizzle to the bacon.
- Avoid gerunds (the -ing words). Gerunds can hinder the meter and flow of a poem. One ends up with ideas of ‘running noses’ across a finish line or ‘stocking cans’ magically doing all the work for the grocery clerk.
- Avoid adverbs (those pesky -ly words). Adverbs can hinder and impede the flow of a poem. They also do not give accurate depictions to the emotions we try to evoke.
- Use metaphors over similes. The simile with the use of ‘like’ or ‘as’ can also slow up and impede the evocation of the emotions. Metaphors however can give a better picture of the two objects you compare.
Finally, break the rules, whatever rules you come across, even the ones I shared. I write a lot about ‘abstract’ ideas, Sometimes I will replace those words with images to represent them, but mostly, I go with those abstract words and let the rest of the poem speak to the images.
The best advice I ever got in life, whether for writing poetry or life in general, was to not let ‘rules’ and ‘set parameters’ define how you write. In the words of Elizabeth Swann from Pirates of the Caribbean (with a little improv), “You’re writers. Hang the code, hang the rules. They’re more like guidelines anyway.”
Do you try to evoke emotions in your writing? How do you accomplish it?