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Tips for Aspiring Poets: How to Get Published

by annikkiadepp_


Hello Neopian!

     It is possible that you’ve read about a possible “Jack of all trades” avatar and thought to yourself, “it’s time to get cracking and send in a poem”. Perhaps you just want to add yet another golden trophy to your cabinet or get the chance to win amazing prizes.

     Whatever your reason is for entering the poetry contest, you have come to the right place.

     I want to share some practical tips to help you achieve that golden poetry that you so much desire!

     At the time of writing this article, I won the poetry contest 20 times. While that may not seem much, it has brought me so much joy and pride that I decided to share my process with you guys.

     Here is my advice which will hopefully help somebody to get their first poem published. I personally prefer rhymed poems, so most of my tips refer to that type of poetry.

     1. Choose the right theme for the poem

     This is fairly easy. Watch the Neopian calendar and keep watch on the Writers boards for the month’s schedule. There you will be able to see if there are any random days or special theme days (e.g. In June, we had pride-themed days).

     I advise against sending poetry that doesn’t fit the theme of the day if you want to be immediately published. For example, if you send a poem about a Cybunny on Koi day, it will not be published immediately. The precedence will always be given to Koi poems.

     That being said, your poem may still be published on random days or on the next Cybunny day.

     2. Study a bit of lore, or make up a story

     Personally, I like to know everything about the theme I am covering. If it’s a pet day, I will research that pet’s history and special features. If it’s a Neopian holiday, I will research the lore of that land and anything that can spark my creativity and inspiration.

     However, you don’t always need to do that. You can create narrative poems (i.e. poems that tell a story) and make all the details up yourself. Or start with a piece of lore and expand with your imagination. Sky is the limit!

      If you have a good feeling about your story, it’s probably good enough to be published. If you have doubts, you can always ask for a second opinion on the boards.

      3. Structure your poem

     A good poem has a clear beginning and ending. Poems that don’t have a well-rounded ending can be a bit awkward to read.

     You also need to introduce your theme with a few lines to get your readers (and the judge) interested.

     Sometimes, it is also acceptable to end the poem abruptly, to give it a sense of surprise and leave people at the edge of their seats.

     Don’t forget to divide your poem into stanzas, especially if there are multiple scenes in a story. This will help you separate your ideas in a logical way and help the readers visualise the different steps in your story.

      4. Read your poems out loud as you write them

     This has everything to do with rhythm. To me, a poem has to sound a bit like a song and be pleasant to the ear.

     When you read a poem out loud, you realise how the different rhymes interact with and complement each other.

     Your writing has to be balanced. If some lines have too many syllables than others, they will stand out and impact the rhythm of your poetry. If something doesn’t sound good, you should probably change your whole line at this stage.

     Finally, reading your poems out loud also helps you to come up with suitable lines!

     5. Look up pronunciations

     This tip can be useful in two cases:

     English is not your native language. If you’ve only ever read a word, it is important you know how people pronounce it. That way, your rhymes will be accurate.

     You have to pronounce a name in the Neopets universe. Let’s face it, native speakers or not, we’ve all been mispronouncing them to some extent (except maybe people who speak British English?). This helps to come up with the right sound for your rhymes.

     6. Not all poems have to rhyme

     The possibilities are endless in the Poetry contest. As long as a poem is creative, it doesn’t matter if it rhymes or not. It doesn’t even matter what rhyme you use or if you change the poem midway.

     My advice here would be: don’t jump in anything you’re not comfortable with. If you don’t know anything about haikus, choose something easier instead.

     Don’t make it hard on yourself if you don’t know much about poetry. Not everybody has to be an expert, and you will be able to get in with basic poetry knowledge.

     7. Send a poem in your native language

      Not everybody is aware of that, but it is possible to send poetry in your native language. If your native language is the only one you feel comfortable with, this may be a great idea!

     The judges are always looking forward to making the contest more inclusive, and I’m sure your entry will be considered on par with the English ones. So stop making excuses and get writing!

     8. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help

     I understand that some people may be sensitive about sharing their ideas with others. Asking for feedback is a difficult thing to do, but it can be rewarding.

     If you don’t feel like sharing your work with the public before it’s finished, you can always ask a family member to read your poems.

     Remember that your work is eventually gonna be up for everybody to read. You’ll have to face that fear!

     9. Proofread

     Remember to read and reread your poem to catch any mistakes when you send it in.

     This also helps lighten the load for our contest judges and avoid any mistakes or misunderstandings in the final product.

     10. Don’t be afraid of rejection

     It happens that sometimes there are just too many good entries. Even if you play all your cards right, you will probably still get rejected sometimes. I know I did.

     Rejection is more likely to occur on popular pet days (Kacheek, etc.) and on random pet days. This happens because on random days, there is no theme, and more people are sending poems in.

     However, there is a positive note: if your poem doesn’t make it in the poetry gallery for a pet day, the judges may publish it on a random day. Sometimes it’s only a waiting game.

     11. Be yourself

     Don’t forget to make the poem yours, with all your quirks and imagination. No guide can do that for you. And when you do get published, enjoy the prize, you’ve earned it!

      Disclaimer: I do not consider myself nor claim to be an expert in poetry, although I enjoy both reading and writing it. All these tips are a result of my direct experience and may not work/be true for everyone.

     Regardless, I hope you’ll find them useful. If you do manage to get something published because of this guide, do let me know!


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