Creative writing prompt #3: make a sound poem!

Okay, so I want you to focus on a sound. Do this exercise when alone, if possible. Try sitting down in a cafe, by the river, at a carnival, or listen to animals. Sound is an interesting emotion, because we notice it less unlike sight or touch. Focus on the sound, one particular sound, and write a few lines on it. Here are some tips:

1. Be phonetic

Spell it out! This makes it easier to imagine and is therefore more realistic. Wilfred Owen and “The Waste Land” are known for their realism because of their unusual usage of sounds.

2. Sibilance

This is the harsh “ssss” sound. Again, Wilfred Owen uses this in his poetry for the sound of gas. It’s not ideal for most forms or genres of poetry, but it can be very effective.

3. Try to write about it in the first, not the third voice

Don’t say “it sounded like a cry of sorrow” but instead say “I heard it sing smoothly” or whatever. This is your experience, written in the spoken word. It doesn’t matter how “accurate” it is – who says a blackbird sounds like a whistle? – but make it convincing instead.

4. Associations

Liken it to something, maybe something different. Is the sound harsh? Sticky? Crackling? Sweet? Melodic? Try and build a picture of where you might hear this sound, whether it’s in a music class or how King Kong might roar.

Got any more useful tips? Share them in the comments!


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