C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

What we aren’t reading that might help our writing most

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“Poetry: the best words in the best order.”

~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

How does poetry help your prose? Why is poetry still important even though so few people buy it? Here’s why:

1. To paraphrase comedian Greg Proops: “Because George Bush and Dick Cheney. That’s why.” Poetry is a salve for our minds and times.

2. To take off on the Coleridge quote: Poetry is the least words in the best order. Capture a scene with fewer brush strokes and the reader will appreciate the efficiency of your storytelling.

3. From “A Late Walk” by Robert Frost: 

And when I come to the garden ground,
The whir of sober birds
Up from the tangle of withered weeds
Is sadder than any words.

To capture images with imaginative language that illuminates the scene in the reader’s mind, practice by reading and writing more poetry. So much prose is linear to the point of telegraphic minimalism. I love a spare writing style, too, but there’s room for art as long as the story remains unobscured. The point is not to make the reader work harder to see the picture you’re painting, but to grasp it all in a pleasing way. Many readers won’t notice how you’re doing it, but they’ll feel what you’re doing. Prose shows, true, but poetry engages.

4. I have a penchant for dark poetry. It’s fun and I found a way to integrate it into my zombie apocalypse. Sure that sounds insane, sure, but here’s what I did:

All the chapter titles in This Plague of Days make up a long, dark poem with clues to the plot. There’s a secret in This Plague of Days no one has yet guessed. I’ve offered to name characters after the first three people who guess right. So far, the secret remains undiscovered. (To see the entire poem for each season, you can find all the verses in the paperbacks. In the ebooks, search “Table of Contents”. If you care to guess, DM me on twitter @rchazzchute and keep the secret so Season 3 remains spoiler-free.) Here’s a piece:

TPOD season 1 ecoverMiles away in the Last Cafe,

We count every cost, each rueful day, 

But knowing will not lessen the surprise

when you see the truth beneath the guise.

The puzzle is not Death, but Life Neverlasting.

The answer is under the stars and moon shadows casting

Now in paperback!

Now in paperback!

Light, revelation and fearful truth

The stuff of old age and disappointed youth.

In dreams we find the connection to what will last, 

what won’t survive and what’s best left in the past.

~ from Season 2, Episode 2 of This Plague of Days

5. Read poetry for the pure love of language.

The more you read, the more sensitive you become to the sound of rhyme and the beat of meter. Power lies where the syllables fall and ring. Poetry doesn’t have to be dense, flowery or meaning-adjacent, communicating only by approximation. Poetry’s gift is in its precision. Poets choose their words carefully. Writers of prose can, and should, choose their words carefully, too. Do it right and even a grisly dismemberment can reach high lyricism.

6. Play with words because it’s fun. Unless you insist, poetry doesn’t have to rhyme.

Work it right and find the time

to light up your readers’ minds.

With a little poetry to your prose,

fans will love the words you chose.

7. Poetry doesn’t have to be dusty and academic.

Check out a poetry slam on YouTube sometime. You’ll see, hear and feel raw emotion communicating points and pictures. When I want to hear a modern poet who writes imaginative rhymes that fit together, tight and smooth as puzzle pieces, I listen to Eminem rap.

That’s the sort of poetry that still sells, but I love it all no less.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is the author of a bunch of horror, a couple of crime novels (so far) and a lot of suspense. To check out all his books (many of which are on sale now, awaiting your anxious clicks and happy reviews), find them all here. For his podcasts, check out AllThatChazz.com and CoolPeoplePodcast.com. For more on This Plague Of Days, go to ThisPlagueOfDays.com.

Filed under: Poetry, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writers: Your Thursday afternoon reward

Photo of Greg Proops.

Image via Wikipedia

This week is so busy, it already feels like Friday. Tomorrow guest blogger Rebecca Senese will show you how to use Smashwords to publish your e-books. I can’t top that, so this afternoon, it’s time for an early reward post.

People ask what I listen to for fun and illumination and to escape the aching hell that is the mundane. (I can’t do laundry or go to the grocery store if I’m not armed with my iPod.)

I’m a podcast junkie. Hop over to iTunes and check out my top ten podcasts:

1. Hollywood Babble-on with Ralph Garmin and Kevin Smith: Filthy, funny pop culture.

2. Best of the Left Podcast: A political theme-based podcast that’s a survey course on what’s wrong with Republicans. It’s stimulating, irksome and often funny.

3. I Should Be Writing with Mur Lafferty: Solid writing advice.

4. The Joe Rogan Experience: Explicit, funny and philosophy on weed. If you only know Joe as “The Fear Factor Guy”, you don’t know Joe. He often hosts excellent guests who are either hugely funny stand-ups and or the uber-intelligent. Or both.

5. Slate Spoiler Specials: This is movie reviewing after the fact. The reviewers assume you’ve already seen it so they aren’t coy about spoilers and discussing everything about the move in-depth.

6. Writing Excuses: Each 15-minute episode tackles a theme about writing to help you improve your craft.

7. Irreverent Muse: I just discovered Mike Plested’s podcast this week and now I have 49 more episodes to catch up on. Oodles of publishing advice.

8. The Smartest Man in the World: Greg Proops freestyles his unique brand of comedy. You’ll feel a giddy, hallucinogenic effect listening to him bounce effortlessly from topic to topic.

9.  Smodcast: This is the Kevin Smith/Scott Mosier podcast that started the Smodcast network of podcasts. Funny stuff that’s just bent. Lots of personal stuff and then strange digressions that involve Hitler and the judicious use of time machine technology. If you’re looking for a funny Kevin Smith podcast that’s a bit more grounded, try Plus One, the podcast Kevin does with his wife Jennifer. When they talk about their kid growing up I think of my own kids and get misty right along with them.

10. Slate Political Gabfest: It goes up each Friday afternoon. I find the gabfesters are often a snooty bunch but the topics are often interesting. (I find American politics riveting, unlike just about any aspect of Canadian politics.)

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Filed under: Intentionally Hilarious, Media, podcasts, Top Ten, web reviews, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

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Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

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