Thursday, March 29, 2012

10 Tips from a Famous Author, Part 1

Mind your manners today, kids. We have a guest! Her name is Jacqueline Jules, and she is the author of those beautiful books up there, plus quite a few more. Click HERE to learn more about ZAPATO POWER:  FREDDIE RAMOS MAKES A SPLASH, the fourth book in a series of chapter books. This one makes me think of summer! Click HERE for UNITE or DIE:  HOW THIRTEEN STATES BECAME A NATION, a picture book about early America, of course.

Jacqueline is also a poet. Since it will be April in a few days, and April is Poetry Month, Jacqueline has agreed to give you some professional poetry help. Isn't that nice? You can thank her by visiting her site,, and also by buying her books.

Take it away, Jacqueline...

by Jacqueline Jules 
(Read the sample poems by clicking on the titles.)

1. Don’t be chained to rhyme. Rhymes drastically reduce word choices and can send poems in nonsensical directions. Think about what you really want to say in your poem and if you can’t say it with rhymes, ditch them.

2. Embrace alliteration. The repetition of a beginning sound can reinforce the mood or subject of your poem and create a musical quality, akin to rhyme. For example, my poem “Olympic Skater,” uses a number of words beginning with an “s” sound.
3. Use everyday experiences. Anything can be a powerful topic. One day I found a missing blue sock and wrote a poem called, “Finding a Sock.”

4. Juxtapose. Linking unlike things or experiences can be powerful in a poem. Gliding down the slopes one day, I remembered how clutzy I used to be in middle school gym. It inspired a poem called “Graceless Girl Skis Down Slope.” 

5. Examine your endings. I’ve had more than one poem accepted on the condition that I kill the last two lines. While my initial reaction is always horror, I usually come around and see that the poem stands alone without an ending that hits my reader over the head with a fry pan.

6. The internet has pictures. When I am trying to describe something, I often do a search on Google images. Staring at a photograph can help you paint a picture with words.   

7. Don’t forget the other senses. How does it smell, taste, touch, and sound? While sight may be a dominant sense, particularly in our video driven society, adding other sensory details will enrich your work.

8. Lists are good. Providing details, particularly in groups of three, gives your reader a stronger image. In my poem, “Daddy and Venice,” I remember a ride through the Grand Canal in Venice with “velvet seats, a Persian rug, and a singing gondolier.”  
9. Rearrange the lines. Sometimes a line works better on the top than in the middle. And don’t be afraid to cut off the top if you have created a stronger beginning.

10. Economize. Poetry is all about economy of language. Cross-examine each word and be sure it’s needed and evokes a strong enough image for your reader.


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