When you think of poetry, do you picture men in puffy shirts, with mustaches and quills? Maybe angsty teenage prose stuffed inside of an overused journal?
You probably don’t spend too much time devouring the latest slam poems or scribbling out your own verses in your spare time. After all, what does poetry have to do with marketing?
What if I told you that these 7 poetic devices could dramatically improve your copy…
Perhaps a little more interesting?
Okay, let’s look at the first tool.
Use line breaks to change the pace of the reader.
When you look at a page of text, with no white space, it can quickly become overwhelming. First, most people click off of a page like that, in horror, vowing never to return.
But, it’s also just hard to read.
Whatever space you have allotted for your copy, think about where your words sit on the page. Are your lines crisp and easy to read? Does the layout move you down the page? Is it aesthetically pleasing?
Using line breaks is a great way to achieve a more aesthetic and comfortable read.
It also helps to control the pace of the reader, which leads us to the next device.
Pay attention to the rhythm.
When you’re reading a line, or a few rhymes…
Do you stop to notice the cadence or time?
Arranging the words to the beat of a drum,
Line to line, they make you tap and hum.
I never said I was the greatest poet in the world — certainly no frost — but you get the point. The way the words weave together on the page creates a rhythm for the reader.
Think of a time when you were reading a blog or newsletter, and a section just didn’t have that… flow. The words stick to your eyes like glue, and you find your eyes skipping around.
It’s because the rhythm was off.
The good thing is that you don’t have to plan this out ahead of time. Rhythm is a skill, and like all others, that requires practice.
Simply pay attention to the way your words sound. When you go back for your edits, read aloud, and watch for the places you get stuck.
Speaking of words that stick like glue…
The next devices are a double dose of metaphor and simile.
Words alone don’t always pack the punch that we’re looking to deliver, but the masters of poetry have given us a familiar gift here.
They’re similar concepts, but for clarity, let’s define them below.
Simile — comparing two things using like or as (like the glue example above).
Metaphor — saying that one thing is something else. (Her energy is wildfire).
You can take a few more artistic liberties when talking about the Metaphor, but both devices can make a point clear in fresh terms.
When I first started writing, I sprinkled similes all over my paragraphs like parmesan on spaghetti. See what I did there?
Okay, I’ll stop, but I hope you see the potential here to spruce up a piece of content that’s falling flat.
And with that, my cursor walks us into the next, too.
The power of personification.
One appeal to writing, especially for anyone who’s ever tried their hand at fiction, is this idea of being a creator of your own world.
Breathing life into ideas. Personification is when you give human traits to anything that, well… isn’t human. My “walking” cursor. Tree’s dancing in the wind. The sweating cup leaves rings on your desk.
The next time you see a newer Jeep Wrangler at night, with the headlights that look oddly angry, maybe you’ll think of this article.
Why do they look so angry?
Perhaps personification will help you add a bit of charm to your product descriptions.
Our fifth tip might be my favorite, of all the tools in the poetry handbook.
Imagery is everything
I’m sitting at my makeshift L-shaped desk, surrounded by the crochet creatures my partner crafts as a side business, using my pinky to twist the rune ring on my finger.
You read those words, and though you may not visualize exactly what a crocheted creature is, your mind is building pictures out of those words.
You’ve probably had a teacher, at some point or another, remind you to “show, not tell.”
The reason for that is that the alternative is flat-out boring.
And boring = disengaging.
People need a reason to pay attention. Think back to that one monotone teacher who read straight from the textbook as their prime mode of teaching, while the class dozed off around them.
Everyone has had that teacher… but I bet you’ve had the alternative too.
The teacher who makes everything goofy and fun, her songs make you feel silly, but you never could help but smile.
I’ll let you be the judge of whether imagery matters.
A weapon worth wielding in your writerly armory is alliteration.
For this to work, you don’t need too much. Just a sprinkle of sentences with repeating sounds to keep your inner reader entertained.
It’s a simple trick, but it can add to the feel and sound of a paragraph, especially when read aloud.
Alliteration can even give your words a more staccato sensation.
I’m sure you can think of several examples like Krispy Kreme and Coca-Cola to use this device, with obvious success.
Next time you need to write a captivating subject line, remember to decorate your words with a little alliteration.
And there’s one more tip to give before we wrap up for the day.
Use Repetition to drive the point home.
This tip strays a little away from its original intention.
In poetry, it’s common to repeat a phrase as the first line of every verse, or at the end, the final stanza to drive home the point.
But in content, it’s helpful to wrap up and revisit the points you made for a clean close.
Today, we covered seven poetry devices that you can use to breathe life into your next project, and every project thereafter.
Summarization might be the better term for the application, but I hope it helps.
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Copy on, my friends.