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As we are bringing the National Poetry Month to a close, it seemed prudent to dedicate the final Writer’s Toolbox installment toward how a fiction, or even a non-fiction, writer can enhance their writing through poetry. The main area in which you can enhance your writing comes through description. Because a poem is typically trying to accommodate a certain rhythm or flow internally, poets tend to be cognizant of how they are trying to evoke an image through their word choice. Yet they are also not limited by typical grammatical restraints or sentence structures. They take the time to paint beautiful images that evoke multiple senses. They write similes and metaphors to capture comparisons. They choose words that fall outside of common use but provide stronger images than words like green or big or fast.

Consider this poem by William Wordsworth, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”, and see the different ways in which he describes the daffodils that he sees and the things they are doing. How much more effective is the imagery in this poem than simply saying “I saw a bunch of daffodils moving in the breeze. They went as far as my eyes could see.”

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
And now listen to the reading of this poem by Jeremy Irons and see how the words being read aloud make the poem, and the images within, come alive:

So try to reconsider your approach to your writing of a descriptive scene. Take a scene in your current WIP, or even just look out the window, and try to write the images as though you were a poet describing these things. While you may not feel that you can get quite as bold and creative in your story, this exercise may help you to find a sentence or two that evokes a truly powerful and stunning image that will take your readers’ breath away.