Blog, Poetry, Tutorial

No Time for Rhyme? Tips for Writing Free Verse

Hello. So, before I start the post, let me give you a few updates. First, I did not get a call about either of the two interviews I gave last month. I am now taking a break from applying for copywriting jobs, and focussing on applying for teaching jobs instead. This is something I do once every two or three months, to keep my morale up and avoid boredom. If you recently got a job in either of the two fields, please let me know what you did right. Haha. Second, my husband got the most unique 40th birthday present – a positive Covid-test. He is fine, thankfully, and so are my kids and I. There’s just been a lot of self-isolation going on, so I couldn’t post for a while. Third, I closed my RedBubble shop. Despite good feedback, and intermittent Instagram promotions, I did not manage to get a lot of follows or make even a single sale. Since I made two sales on Etsy, I wanted to make sure I’m able to spend enough time promoting Etsy, rather than trying to juggle two things art once.

Now, back to the topic. So, I love rhyme, but I do not always have the time or energy for it. On days like these, and depending on the subject matter, I like to write free verse. Free verse is verse free from the bounds of fixed meter patterns. So, simplistically put, a poem without a consistent rhyme scheme. Now, how do you add rhythm to a poem without using rhyming words? These are some of the tricks I use:

  1. Title – Make the title of the poem poetic. Use a poetic device in the title itself, or make it imaginative. Let me give you the example of my poem “When Two Become One”. I wrote it a while back, after a minor argument with my husband. Yes, that’s what poets do! They write a poem, no matter what the situation. So, this title portrays an image of coming together and has a romantic ring to it.
  2. Alliteration – Alliteration is repeating the consonant sound at the beginning of a few consecutive words in a sentence. For example, take a line from my poem. “I take pleasure in pleasing people…” Do you notice the repetition of the “p” sound? That is alliteration. It emphasizes an idea and creates a good listening effect, don’t you agree?
  3. Imagery – Creating pictures with words, particularly those that have a sensory effect, are particularly effective in making poetry poetic. “Let’s melt all our ironies into a single paradox…Let’s walk hand in hand.” These are examples of using words to create an image in the reader’s mind. Let the reader see that you’re walking hand in hand. Let the reader feel the ironies melting into each other like a mocha chocolate bomb melting under hot milk in a mug…Oops! Sorry, foodie alert!
  4. Idioms – Idioms are groups of words that have come to possess a meaning in the collective mindset that is different from their literal meaning. “Let’s walk hand in hand towards the evening of our lives.” Here, the evening of our lives means old age, a meaning that literature has popularized, over the years.
  5. Repetition – This is my favourite device, especially while writing free verse. Repeat a word, a phrase or a line and notice the effect it creates. It can help drive a point home, while also creating a unique listening effect. It is used quite commonly in popular songs, as well. Can you think of a favourite song that plays the same line over and over? Doesn’t that line stick to your memory more easily than the other lines, playing in your mind like a broken record?
  6. Dramatic effect – A little exaggeration of emotion, a little bit of word play – techniques such as these create a dramatic effect that works well in poetry. “By an unknown twist of fate…” is used to describe something as mundane as a husband and wife getting used to each other after a few years of living together, in my poem. Also, pay attention to flow by using lines of varied lengths and dividing a sentence into lines such that it sounds rhythmic.

What are some of the techniques you use to make your free verse poetic? Do you like rhyme better or free verse, both as a writer and as a reader? Let me know through the comments section of the post. If you’d like to participate in a one-on-one poetry workshop, get in touch through my contact page. I also offer poetry editing and proofreading services. If you’d like to buy the poem discussed in this post as a scroll, please visit my Etsy shop or the Shop on this website for pricing details.

©️Pebble in the Ocean 2021

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