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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 21st day of Eating, Yr 26
The Neopian Times Week 135 > Articles > “It was a Dark and Stormy Night”: A N00b’s Guide to Writing Stories and Such—Part 1: Poems

“It was a Dark and Stormy Night”: A N00b’s Guide to Writing Stories and Such—Part 1: Poems

by neodonnaz

NEOPIAN WRITER'S BOARD - When someone is talking about a "regular" on the NW, they probably mean a person who is good at writing and is found on the board a lot. Almost every NW regular has perfected the art of delivering a captivating story and then asking for concrit and getting lots of praise.

I should know; I lurk around that board enough. And in addition to seeing amazing writing by the regulars, I also see lots of garbage-y m00f poems about guys (usually written by girls) written out in chatspeak. These have driven me to my wits' end. So here I am, writing an article about writing, hoping to educate the people about why not to use chatspeak, how to create characters that come to life, and why not to talk about Jelly World, the land made out of jelly that doesn't exist. Hehe…

So let's get started, shall we? This week's installment: Poems.

1. Glossary
I know this isn't about poems, but it's important that anyone on the NW has a basic idea of what's going on. So I've listed some terms to look out for:

Regular-A person who appears on a certain board frequently.
NW-The Neopian Writer's Board.
Concrit-Constructive criticism.
M00f/N00b-A whiny person who reports people for stupid reasons, begs, or posts disgustingly off-topic boards. On the NW a n00b or m00f also qualifies as someone who uses chatspeak for poems and writes all the poems about a guy (usually written by girls).
Chatspeak-IM-esque abbreviations or spellings, such as "u" for "you", "2" for "two" and "kewl" for "cool". The list goes on and on.
Flaming-The art of destroying someone's work (I.e., "That's horrible! Leave this board and never come back!")
Despie-On the NW, despies are like NW n00bs and m00fs.
Literate-A person who can actually write well-or is working on it-and doesn't use chatspeak for poems. If you are an NW regular that anyone respects you are also a literate.

2. Structure
There are many different types of poems, all structured differently. Let's explore these.
Haiku-Of course, the haiku is first because it's my favorite. The haiku is a Japanese form of poetry that has three lines. The first one has five syllables, the second has seven, and the third has five. It doesn't have to rhyme-most don't. Example:
It's a sunny day
The birds are all twittering
I am so happy

Hopefully you can come up with something better than that!

Limerick-Yes, the limerick is my second favorite. Limericks have to rhyme, and they follow a certain beat:
Da-da-da-da-da-da-da-doo,
Da-da-da-da-da-da-da-doo.
Da-da-da-da-dee,
Da-da-da-da-dee,
Da-da-da-da-da-da-da-doo.

Notice which lines rhyme and which don't. Here's another example:
A lady who loved eating soup
Had a friend named Nigel Boop.
They loved to just talk,
And also to walk,
And he lived in a small pigeon coop!

Once again, I hope you can do better-I'm thinking all the examples up off the top of my head. Limericks are meant to be upbeat and funny.

Couplet-This one's really simple. A couplet only has two lines, and they rhyme. Another example:
Today is so sunny and cheery and bright,
I wish it were like this every day and night.

Freestyle-Freestyle basically means it doesn't rhyme and is as long as you want to be. Here is one I wrote:
I have reached another day.
But I have not yet reached tomorrow-
It's always just out of my grasp
And yesterday's too far gone to get a hold of.

You get the idea, I think.
There are many more kinds of poetry-sonnets, odes, epics. These are just some types.

3. Inspiration and topic
There are so many wonderful topics to write poems about. So, I beg of you, do not, repeat, do not write another poem about the person you like-at least don't post it on the NW-because people will probably have nothing great to say about it since there are so many of those swimming around!

There are so many places to get good ideas-ideas are clogging the air!
Here are a few places you can look:
Your journal-Yes, look in your journal. Write what you know. I know you probably hear that all the time, but it's true! Your life is always the best source of information for anything you're writing because you actually know what you're talking about.
The world-Look around you. Go outside and look at the street-what does it look like? Go gaze at a skyscraper-doesn't it look like a metal monster?
Your head-Daydream. Say, "What if?" Maybe you will start creating a whole new world inside your head where harpies eat people. You could write a poem about the harpies.

I think you get the basic idea. Now on to the poem itself!

4. Writing the poem
So you've got a structure-let's say freestyle-and a topic-let's say the harpies-and you're ready to write your poem. Waitaminute! You can't just write anything, you know. Let's say you wrote this:

Harpies
By neodonnaz
Harpies
R very scary.
Don't listen 2 dem.
Dey try
2 kill u and eat u!
Aaaaahhh!

You could do so much better than that. Let's take a look at some writing mechanics you could use to improve this poem.
Never, ever, ever use chatspeak!-You remember chatspeak, right? That IM-type spelling and abbreviating? Well, we used plenty-and Writing rule #1: Never ever use chatspeak. So let's get rid of all of the chatspeak:

Harpies
Are very scary.
Don't listen to them.
They try
To kill you and eat you!
Aaaaahh!

There! Still horrible, but it looks so much better now. Moving on. Describe: Show, don't tell-Harpies are scary. Don't you think we could make that better? How are they scary? Let's say their face is a twisted version of a human's and their wings are like a cross between scaly and batlike. And let's get rid of the word "Harpies"-the title tells that. The poem itself is about showing that. So now the first two lines have become:

Horrible scraggly hair
Frames a twisted reflection of a human face.
Bat-wings spread
With scales glistening a horrible grey.
They tread on taloned feet through your dreams
Coming closer… closer…
As you shrink away in fear.

That is so much better! Don't you agree?
Metaphors (and similes)-See, there are similes and there are metaphors. Similes are when you compare two separate things using like or as. Metaphors do the same, without the like or as. They can both be used for either stories or poems, but when you're writing a poem, metaphors are a must. Let's work with that third line:

Their crude, liquid voice
Rasps against your cheek
Sandpaper
And then you bleed in that invisible way
Like flowing lava
Drawing you closer…

That is amazingly better. Isn't it?

Using the thesaurus-The thesaurus is any writer's best friend. Ordinary words-like "cool", "eat", or "interesting" aren't intriguing enough. So let's work with the last three lines, using the thesaurus to find better words.
They strike!
And then you scream…
You lie there, never
To breathe again. And then they come forward
They devour you
And satisfied, go off again.

Honestly, this is so much better. Remember that horrible little poem we started with?
Stanzas-These are optional, but useful for organizing if you have a long poem. Stanzas are separate sections of poems that are separated from each other. So let's add some stanzas in and we're finished:

Harpies
By neodonnaz
Horrible scraggly hair
Frames a twisted reflection of a human face.
Bat-wings spread
With scales glistening a horrible grey.
They tread on taloned feet through your dreams
Coming closer… closer…
As you shrink away in fear.

Their crude, liquid voice
Rasps against your cheek
Sandpaper
And then you bleed in that invisible way
Like flowing lava
Drawing you closer…

They strike!
And then you scream…
You lie there, never
To breathe again. And then they come forward
They devour you
And satisfied, go off again.

Wow. Let's compare it with that little puny poem we started with:

Harpies
By neodonnaz
Harpies
R very scary.
Don't listen 2 dem.
Dey try
2 kill u and eat u!
Aaaaahhh!

So much better, right?

Actually, I lied earlier. We're not finished. You're never finished. We could keep on making this better and better and better and better, but we have to stop somewhere.

Oh, one more thing:

See you next time!
I'm out of time and space here, but thanks for reading! Hopefully the NW will soon be covered with, at the very least, beautiful, deep, desriptive poems about the person you like (as opposed to crude, chatspeak, disgusting poems about the person you like).


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