5 Ways to Discover Story Ideas.

Many people want to be a writer. They want to create the perfect story about___________? And that blank is about as far as the majority gets with their dream. The dream will stay with them for years or even decades of their lives. They might have a vague image of something in their mind, but it refuses to become a clearly formed image.

I’ve been like that with some of my ideas. I’ll sit for hours on adjectives swirling around in my brain but not sure what they’re mean. But, eventually, I growl into the 02:00 AM air and break out a pen and pad of paper or go full-on rage mode and boot up the laptop. That’s when the business of story ideas begins.

5 WAYS TO DISCOVER STORY IDAS IMAGE, BACK TEXT ON WHITE BACKGROUND


 

“Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.”Orson Scott, Author of the Ender’s Game series.

Orson Scott quote, white letters, on silhouette of legs walking on coblble stone street.

Scott is right, very right. You hear many people say, “A story torn from today’s headlines.” The reason for that is because the book or short story, headline the author/writer saw on the news, in the newspaper, or even a social media snippet.

TORN FROM THE HEADLINES

These headlines aren’t just for reality-based genres but can be used for science fiction and fantasy, and magical realism. Yes, that last one is somewhat reality-based, but it still can have plenty of fantasy elements.

I took a glance at today’s headlines, and one is about the L.A. Dodgers going for their 7th World Series title while the Tampa Bay Rays are going for their first.
The first idea to come to mind is a fantasy in which to win their freedom, the Rays of Taba must defeat the brutal forces of the Angels of DoLos.  The Rays know this is their last chance. The battle is set in a series of ever-increasing deadly matches of skill, requiring the combatants to overcome the fear of the situation places them in. The protagonist/hero/main character can be any gender or none at all, any skin tone, any traits at all that appeals to you. The Rays don’t need to win in the story but can lose by deceit, and then they begin to truly fight. They do so guerilla-style, hit and run, a war from the shadows.

Here’s another fantasy idea using the same headline and the same names, with a twist. Prince Taba must find the Ring of Wisdom before Lord Ángeles of the Kingdom of DoLos or Ángeles will possess all Seven Rings of The Ancients and have the power to destroy Taba’s people. If Taba can find it first, the wisdom he receives will save his people and overcome the DoLos. The 7th Ring! In the Bible, the number 7 is the number of physical and spiritual perfection. In numerology, it means both deep and wise. Both references have even more meanings, but I think you get where this is going. Here, I turned Taba into a person. You could also turn this into an Indiana Jones-type action-adventure as well, think Temple of Doom. Or you could say Taba must reach the 7th Circle, the Circle of (Fill in the Blank), to defeat Lord Ángeles of the Kingdom of DoLos.

“But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin.”Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays with Morrie.

Mitch Albom quote on silhouettes of mothers with children scenarios.

This one nails the idea behind finding a story. What Albom says is true. You can take a moment in your life and turn it into something else.

PERSONAL LIFE MOMENTS

For instance, I had a few seconds when I was in the 6th grade that could’ve changed my entire school experience. I can still feel that moment today. I’ve relived that moment but changed it in so many ways. Each change leads me down a new path in life. I usually end up being a common sense, logical genius, solving the environmental, global warming, green energy, unemployment, poverty, and hunger problems of the world. And the solution is easy. After all, I’ve done it several times.

I’ve rescued famous people. Won elections. Prevented disasters. Conquered Mars. Colonized planets in other solar systems. And I’ve done it all by changing one point or other in my life.

INSPIRED BY OTHER WORKS

Another way to find an idea is to read a book, watch a movie or TV show, or listen to a song. I’ve found ideas in each of those. No, I don’t copy what I’m enjoying. What I do is, take a line, or an image or some random interpretation of a moment or an emotion, and turn that into a story idea. I currently have 74 separate series of ideas. That’s not 74 books, that’s 74 series. And some of those series I already have three to twelve books story structured.

I write down everything I come up with, along with a description of the idea, what inspired it and anything else I can come up with. If it’s a song, what line of the song and what was I thinking or feeling that inspired the idea. Just a title doesn’t always work. Get all the details you can, or at least enough to head you in the right direction when and if you ever come back to it. If you are serious about becoming an author, carry something on you that you can get those ideas in a form for later. A little notebook, your phone to either make a note or record a message, a tablet.

If you don’t you may lose the most enjoyable writing experience of your life. Some people say, if you can’t remember the idea until later, then it wasn’t good enough, to begin with. Not true. At least not always. I’ve seen so many of my ideas show up on both the big screen and small screen. Some I’ve written down, and some that come back to me as I’m watching or sometimes even reading my thought I had twenty years ago.

“Don’t stop because you’ve hit a block. Finish the page, even if you write nothing but your own name. The block will break if you don’t give in to it. Remember, writing is a physical habit as well as whatever you want to think it is—calling, avocation, talent, genius, art.”Isabelle Holland, author of The Man Without a Face.

Isabelle Holland quote in simple white text on black band and marble styled background.

GET IT OUT OF YOUR HEAD AND INTO WORDS

But what if you’re still wanting to grab onto that vague image you have?

  1. Write down those adjectives you have, no matter how random or unrelated you think they may be.
  2. Get in front of the laptop, close your eyes, and begin typing what you can make out of that image. It may not make any sense. That’s perfectly fine. First moments of ideas seldom do.
  3. Don’t backspace. You can spellcheck later. That’s what Grammarly or whatever you like to use, is for.
  4. As you type, there is a good chance other random thoughts will come to mind, possibly trying to distract you, or so you think. Type them. Get them out of your head so you can either use them later or get them out of the way of where you’re headed.

Once you’ve done what you can. You can do one of two things:

  1. Read what you’ve come up with and see if it takes you somewhere
  2. Walk away for a few days and give your brain and the information time to rest/marinate.
    • You have a creative whirlwind and ideas fly from through your fingers and into words you’ve been begging for.
    • You get frustrated because none of it makes sense and you are no closer to your goal than before you started….or so you think at the time.\

Two things could happen with either choice, in other words, pros and cons:

  1. READING IT NOW:
    • You have a creative whirlwind and ideas fly from through your fingers and into words you’ve been begging for.
    • Or you get frustrated because none of it makes sense and you are no closer to your goal than before you started….or so you think at the time.\
  2. WAITING A FEW DAYS;
    • You return with a fresh uncluttered mind. Perhaps random ideas have popped into your head while doing other tasks
    • Or you see what the words and thoughts, and get frustrated. And for the same reason as the READING IT NOW frustration. You just don’t see it yet.

TAKING WHAT YOU HAVE AND RUNNING WITH IT

But what you can do once you have the results of those initial word writing storms is expand on the words, the adjectives. You know you want a certain kind of story, you just don’t know what the story is. Now you begin to add.

  • Is there a positive protagonist? If so, what are the characteristics you would like the character to have? These can be both external and internal characteristics.
  • Do you want the character to have flaws? If so, what kind do you feel drawn to at that moment?
  • Do you want them to be an anti-hero?
  • Do you have thoughts of an antagonist? Now, this is a bit tricky. An antagonist can take on the guise of a person, a creature, a spirit, a political system, a society, a nation, a world, a universe, and so many other things. Write down the ones you like.
  • Do you see colors? Sounds odd, but colors can lead you places. It could be hair, eyes, the sky, sea, land, or an object.
  • Do you get a feeling there are certain types of people, like an alien race, or elves or sidekicks, anything?

Just because you write it down the initial ideas or the expanded ones, does not mean you must use them. It’s just word playing and seeing if something jumps or sticks.

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.” — Neil Gaiman, author of many things.

Neil Gaiman quote in white text on background of people typing and a retro comic strip character.

AND THE BONUS: WRITING PROMPTS

This is such an obvious one, I almost didn’t include it. You can throw a rock at a list of blogs and probably hit one that has writing prompts. And I don’t just mean for you to use flash fiction or prose writing prompts. Poetry prompts or photography prompts will work just as well.  Here’s a post on Reedsy.com’s blog, Best Fantasy Writing Prompts, which has 107 for you to choose from. But don’t forget there’s a list of blogs and prompts they offer here on this site, Challenges/Prompts From the Blogosphere.

Of course. there are other ways to come up with ideas, but these are a few you can start with.


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© 2020 Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

How to write an Espinela or Décima poem.

How to write an Espinela/Décima poem.

The Traditional Décima Poem

Décima poetry is a 10 line stanza with 8 syllables per line. The rhyming pattern is abbaaccddc. Using the 10 lines there are generally two ways to organize: The 10 lines, or breaking the 10 lines into two stanzas using abba/accddc.

The abba/accddc requires either a period or semicolon after the fourth line break.

Also, there can only be pauses after even verses, particularly after the fourth. Edit-09/04/2020

Topics are as varied as your imagination.  With the Décima the subject matter tends to be more socially conscience than some poems. Philosophical, political, dogma, and religious ideas are among the topics.  Although, it can also be in the form of satire, criticism, and insulting to an enemy/opponent in a situation.

Just imagine if the candidates for a public office decided to write Décima challenges. First, one candidate would write a 10 line stanza and have a decimista/decimero read it aloud at the opponents next TV appearance. The opponent then responds with another 10 line stanza and a decimista/decimero would return the favor. This would go on for ever how long it will, and sometimes ends up as a song of challenge.

Back in the day, the poems were written anonymously, thus the reason for a decimero. I imagine it was always known who the writer was, at least in matters of romance…maybe.

The reason this form of poetry is also called Espinela is because of Vicente Espinel who was a Spanish writer, musician, soldier, prisoner of pirates, and finally a priest. He is sometimes noted as the founder of the décima or the one to popularize it once again.

Tools I use in my Haiku Challenges each week will definitely be even more useful here. There are the following three RhymeZone.com, Thesaurus.com, and finally HowManySyllables.com. Look for the new Espinela Poetry Challenge beginning 4/17/2020.

An example of an abba/accddc décima:

On soft breeze a divine bouquet
her invitation is discrete,
to imbibe in her gifts so sweet,
and my heart with joy must obey.

Eternal beasts come into play.
Distance is an icy lover,
these shivers I cannot cover.
Time will tell the battles end.
I’ll travel along that soft wind,
to love to rediscover.

If you like, there is a Décima Challenge here each Wednesday.

Here is the quick and perhaps easier description of a Décima Poem:

I’ve had a much-valued part of my poetry family let me know that my description might not be clear enough, so I’ve come up with this. There are 10 lines (stanza) of poetry, but unlike other poetry that rhymes there is a strict set rhyming pattern, we must stick to.
In addition, each line must only have 8 syllables.
The rhyme pattern is;
a
b
b
a
a
c
c
d
d
c

But remember, if you want to be a slight bit different, you can do the four lines of abba, then the six lines of accddc.

Décima as Song

Songs have been created for years using Décima poetry. Using the abba/accddc two stanza method and repeat until you have your song. There will be a more complete post about this another time, just know Décima plays a large part in the Latin American culture.

In Ecuador, they do a forty-four line Décima with a four-line opening, no set pattern of rhyme and each of the four lines from the opening stanza goes on to appear later in the song, although perhaps a bit modified.

“The [Décima] is one of the most deeply-rooted and widely distributed strophic forms throughout Latin America, being especially significant in popular and rural poetry. An example of this is the current survival of practices such as payas, where it is often used that two or more singers face each other in a duel of improvised [Décima] at the time, with musical accompaniment, generally the guitar.” from Wikipedia and translated using google translate. Payas: to improvise a song.

© 2020 Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

Blog Tour – AMBER WAKE: Featured Post – How to Create a Man for Romance

Here’s a guest post I did on a blog that leans toward enjoying the romantical. Make sure you check it out. Vanessa asked me to provide a post and I read her blog to see what might be of interest, just as I mentioned you should do in another guest post on my blog tour. I thought how I went about, and the thought process behind, the creation of Captain Gabriel Wallace would make a good guest post.

Dialogue Tags, Action Beats, and The Dialogue Comma.

As some of you know, I host a Fiction writing challenge on Fridays here on Ronovan Writes. It’s funny how I use Ronovan Writes as if it’s not me. Sometimes I shorten it to RW. That has nothing to do with this article, merely an aside.

Dialogue Tags and More by Ronovan Hester



One of the goals of the Friday Fiction with Ronovan Writes is to improve the writing of those who participate. At the moment my goal with the challenge is to encourage the improvement of the basics of writing Fiction. Some problems I see, not just in a few challenge entries, but in books I review, are the use of Dialogue Tags, Action Beats, and Dialogue Punctuation. Also today I’ll introduce some of you to Grammarly.

This piece today is not just for those doing the challenge. This is for anyone who:

  • Writes.
  • Writes short stories
  • Writes novellas, or novels.

What I have here will help you. For some of you it will be a reminder.


 

Let’s begin with Dialogue Tags. A Dialogue Tag is when you have a speaker identified along with the dialogue and a word such as ‘said’.

Example: “The dog jumped the fence,” Bob said. OR Bob said, “The dog jumped the fence.”

Example: “Did the dog jump the fence?” Sally asked.

Notice there are words used to show what kind of speaking Bob and Sally are doing. Let’s change one to see what happens.

“The dog jumped the fence.” Bob pointed to Fido racing across the field after the sheep.

We know who is speaking here, Bob because he is the only one mentioned and he is doing an action associated with the act of seeing the dog jump the fence. Now let’s see what happens with Sally.

“Did the dog jump the fence?” Sally pointed to Fido racing across the field after the sheep.

You’ll run into some people who despise Dialogue Tags, regardless of the situation. They would like you to use something like an Action Beat instead. What are Action Beats? An Action Beat is the actions taking place between the dialogues. The two examples above with Bob and Sally pointing are Action Beats. Notice there was no mention of the people speaking. You assumed who was speaking.

My personal opinion is you need a combination of Beats and Tags and nothing at all. Sticking to one and one tool only, in my opinion, would be boring.

Let’s take a look at passage using all three tools.

Example with Dialogue Tags and Action Beats.

“This class is crazy.” Billy ducked the dark rectangular object on its way toward his head.
Larry picked up the weapon, marker dust covered his hand. He threw the eraser back at the offender. “We’re not playing! Find someone else!”
“Thanks, Larry.” Billy’s muffled voice came from the floor.
“You can get up now, Billy.”
“Do you think Ms. Willett will be mad when she sees what they did to her notes on the board?”
“If I were you, I’d be reading a book when she comes in. Act as innocence as possible.”
“Will that work?”
“Did last year. This is my second year in the class. I failed by a point last time. She’s tough. They don’t call her hard butt because she works out so much.”
Billy laughed, and said, “Either way she’s my favorite teacher.”

The above is not the best example, but it gives you an idea of what I’m talking about. I used one dialogue tag, and then only to keep the reader on track. I didn’t want to throw in lots of Action Beats. Action Beats work great, but can be overdone.
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Then you might have a passage with only Dialogue Tags.

All Dialogue Tags:

“This class is crazy,” Billy said and ducked the dark rectangular object on its way toward his head.
“We’re not playing! Find someone else!” Larry said.
“Thanks, Larry,” Billy said.
“You can get up now, Billy,” Larry said.
“Do you think Ms. Willett will be mad when she sees what they did to her notes on the board?” Billy asked.
“If I were you, I’d be reading a book when she comes in. Act as innocence as possible,” Larry said.
“Will that work?” Billy asked.
“Did last year. This is my second year in the class. I failed by a point last time. She’s tough. They don’t call her hard butt because she works out so much,” Larry said.
“Either way she’s my favorite teacher,” Billy said.
How boring is that? Annoying? Except for the exclamation marks for Larry there is no personality or life to the scene. Now you see why you use dialogue tags as little as possible. You also use Action Beats only when you need to. Of course you can pep up the dialogue itself and accomplish a lot.
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One thing you need to do when writing is, give each character a distinctive voice. I always try to do that in every story I write. One character might speak in short sentences, another in long. This guy doesn’t use contractions, this guy uses them even when they don’t exist.

By giving distinctive voices, you can have a conversation without a lot of tags or beats. Beats are good. You do need them. However, if you can get as much as possible across in your dialogue you are a long way to being a success.

No Dialogue Tags and No Action Beats.

“Billy, duck!”
“These people are insane. That could’ve hit me in the eye. Thanks Larry.”
“We’re not playing! Find someone else!”
“Ooo, you nailed him with that eraser.”
“He shouldn’t’ve thrown it in the first place. Uh, Billy?”
“Yeah?”
“Stop hiding.”
“Oh, yeah. Thanks. Do you think Ms. Willett will be mad when she sees what they did to her notes on the board?”
“Put it this way, if I were you, I’d be reading a book when she comes in. Act like an angel.”
“Will that work? This place is a disaster area. There is no way she will think we didn’t do some of this.”
“Worked last year.”
“Last year?”
“Uh, Billy, I’m a year older than you, remember? I failed by one point last time. But as bad as my grades were, I never got in trouble with Ms. Willett.”
“Larry, you’re always getting into trouble.”
“I know, but every time something happened, I stuck my nose in a book. She’s tough but fair. They don’t call her hard—”
“Larry!”
“Okay, they don’t call her hard ‘butt’ because of how much she works out.”
“I don’t care why they call her that, she’s my favorite teacher.”
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Along with dialogue, one thing I notice in books I read and blogs I read is Dialogue Punctuation. I’ll only mention one form of punctuation at this time.

I’ll also make this as simple as I can. Where does the comma go?

Example: “The dog jumped the fence,” Bob said. OR Bob said, “The dog jumped the fence.”

In dialogue, we all know to use the quotation marks around the speech, the dialogue. Where does the comma go? Yes, there is a comma in most dialogue IF there is a normal expression of speech. Look at the example above. There is no exclamation nor a question mark, therefore you put a comma inside the quotation mark.

If you have an exclamation or question mark, then put the mark and close with the quotation, no comma is required.

Example: “The dog jumped the fence!” Bob said.

Example: “Did the dog jump the fence?” Sally asked.

No comma was required in the examples above.

You can do away with commas by not using Dialogue Tags and sticking with Action Beats. Yawn. Okay, not really yawn, if done correctly. When you have a scene with two people conversing, you can easily do away with Dialogue Tags and stick with Action Beats and no manner of denoting who is speaking at all based on the rhythm of the exchange.
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Grammar and Spelling

For those without Word to help catch spelling and grammar errors, I have a suggestion for you. However, first if you do have Word, I’m going to refer you to Using Proofing To Help Your Fiction Diction & More!, for how you can make the most of Word

Another TOOL to use, if you don’t have Word is Grammarly.com. It can be used inside of WordPress or any place you type, even comments on blogs. Also, they have a FREE version, which I use.
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Ronovan Hester is an author, with his debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out in February 14, 2016. He shares his life through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.com.

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@RonovanWrites

© Copyright-All rights reserved by ronovanwrites.wordpress.com 2016

Stripping for Fiction.

If you’ve never written Flash Fiction you’re missing out on one of the best tools to achieve what Literary Agents, Editors, and Publishers are looking for, the art of Show Don’t Tell.

How to Write Flash Fiction

A major mistake when writing is to look at word count. We want to write a novel, or at least a novella, but that is where we fall prey to bad writing. I advise you to either turn off the word count on your writing program, or put something over it so you can’t see it. I have mine turned off.

Let the story tell the story until it’s finished. That’s your first draft.

After the first draft is when you begin to cut the fat out and get to the healthy parts of your story. For Flash Fiction, this means your story becomes shorter, tighter. That could mean the same thing for novel length writing as well. There is nothing wrong with writing every single thought you have, every scene you have in your mind during your first draft. You don’t know what might be the best for your final draft.

To write Flash Fiction:

  • Write a scene as you normally would
  • Then strip it down to under 600 words or 300 words, whatever the prompt or your goal is.
  • If you can do this and still convey everything the reader needs to know and feel you have accomplished your mission and saved your Agent/Editor and yourself a lot of work later on.

How do you strip a scene down?

  • Get rid of unneeded adverbs.
    • Adverbs are okay sometimes. However, most of the time they can be done away with.  “The boy casually strolled along the path.” Casually could be okay to use, or you might look at the word strolled and realize it implies a slow pace, a casual pace of walking. Another example might be “The girl abruptly stopped in the street.” The idea is the girl stopped in the street.
    • Very and really are two overused adverbs.
  • Write in an active voice, not passive.
    • An example of an active sentence-The boy shot the ball.
    • The same sentence in passive is-The ball was shot by the boy.
    • Notice you have the noun directing the action instead of the result directing. With the active voice, there are two less words than the passive voice.
    • You can set up your Word program in Microsoft to check for passive voice. To see how, click HERE for
  • Remove unnecessary dialogue tags.
    • If you have a conversation between two people and you have established early on who the people are, you don’t need he said or she said constantly. Keep in mind not to insert the name of the people in conversation early on to establish genders and the like. If you have a long dialogue exchange, I would insert a name in the dialogue or an action including the person’s name to reinforce the order of speakers.
  • Write language not English.
    • When you write conversations, write how people talk. You don’t need to have every person speak properly and according to your spellcheck and grammar check. We don’t all speak that way every moment of our lives, especially with friends.

We think more is better but in reality, it’s what you say and how you say it rather than how much you say that matters. Choose your words wisely. Close your eyes and just begin to type what you see of the scene and then come back and work it.



Ronovan Hester is an author, with his debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out in December of 2015. He shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.com.

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@RonovanWrites

© Copyright-All rights reserved by Ronovan Hester 2015

The Haiku Challenge Explained 2: Types of Haiku and How.

Today I continue to my series on explaining the weekly Haiku challenge that’s been here on Ronovan Writes for just over a year now. The challenge is more than just poetry, it’s community as well. Friends have been made, very good friends.

To make it easy for people to join in and make these great friends I wanted to make writing Haiku easy. I’ve written “How To” articles before but let’s see if it can be even simpler.

There are three styles of Haiku I have mentioned here on Ronovan Writes, all three include the Haiku in English form of three lines. The first line is 5 syllables long, the second is 7, and the third is again 5.

Traditionally one would have the second line of 7 syllables be such as to complete a sentence with the first line, and begin a sentence with the second.

Waves lap at my feet

As my thoughts drift towards you,

Peace comes with your love.

The first sentence formed with the second line of 7 syllables as the end would be, “Waves lat at my feet as my thoughts drift towards you.”

The second line of 7 syllables then continues on to begin the second completed sentence, “As my thoughts drift towards you, peace come with your love.”

Now you know how to write a Haiku. Often times, and in traditional ways the Haiku is about nature and the two sentences would contrast each other or oppose each other. For poetic sake this these rules are often broken. The purpose of the Haiku is to relay a thought, a feeling, an emotion that one might otherwise write in a full letter perhaps.

The Haibun is an a relatively newer form of, or use of, Haiku that many of our members of the Haiku Challenge like to use. And no, you don’t even have to change how you write the Haiku. All you do is write a story of perhaps a memory and then at the end you reduce that down to the very bare, basic emotions, and meaning in the form of a Haiku. These are often my favorites.

The Tanka is an old Haiku form consisting of 5 lines of poetry. The syllable structure is 5 syllables, then 7, 5, and then 7, and 7. The Tanka is something I think I want to participate in more. The subject and manner of a Tanka involves first an object in the first three lines. Think of it as if you are describing the object. Then by using the third line as the link you create the emotional response the object gives you.

Waves lap at my feet

Driving forever onward

With intensity

I long for them to carry me

Finally into your arms.

By doing the basic Haiku, which is what most of our poets do, and by reading the previous article, The Haiku Challenge Explained: Ping Backs, Sharing, Comments. you are now ready to participate. There are more articles to come, but these two are the only ones you really need to get started. Don’t let the title of the previous article concern anyone. There is a link to an article that explains what a ping back is in detail, and they are not even necessary to participate.

Links you may need in writing a Haiku:

Thesaurus.com for synonyms of my challenge prompt words. I enjoy seeing how people use the words for their own purposes.

HowManySyllables.com for making certain you have the right number of syllables for a word. I’ve been wrong a few times, thus whenever I am not 100% positive, I check and if the word I have is too many or too few syllables, I then go to Thesaurus.com to find an alternative.

Much Love, Success, and Respect

Ronovan

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© Copyright-All rights reserved by ronovanwrites.wordpress.com 2015

How To Write A Haiku Poem In English Form

All links open in a new window unless noted as ‘you will leave this page‘.


There are various Japanese Forms of poetry based on syllable structure (see Haiku, Tanka, and Haibun. It’s all poetry to me. Learn the difference.), much like many nations and cultures of the world (see How to Write an Espinela or Décima Poem). The Japanese Haiku poem is probably the most challenging due to its low syllable constraints. (5/7/5 or 3/5/3 or 2/3/2) If you really want to be challenged, try a 1/2/1. I don’t think this is really a Haiku form, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. Examples further down the page.

This post discusses How to write a Haiku Poem in English Form. Haiku purists in the Japanese style attempt to write a Haiku that can be read in one breath. This means it’s minimal in word choice while vivid with imagery and short at the same time. The more you write, the easier it becomes to exclude words such as the, is, and there, etc. from your thoughts while thinking of your poems and count syllables in your head in the middle of a drive to work or store. I find myself tapping with my fingers counting syllables in the strangest locations.

Six things to remember about Traditional Haiku form:

  • You have three lines of poetry.
  • 17 total syllables, some say sounds, in the 5/7/5 pattern. (The syllables of words may vary due to the country’s English you speak.)
  • You normally tell two opposing images in the poem.
  • Lines one and two should read as a complete sentence and lines two and three should read as a complete sentence. Easier than it sounds.
  • Haiku do not have titles/names.
  • You normally use mostly descriptive words and as few filler words as possible, such as the, and, there, is, etc. Note lower in the post my example 3/5/3 version of the 5/7/5 Haiku I provide as an example. You get the same message with each version.

Notice the word normally. You can have the poem be about aspects of the same thing, but normally you look at it from two different ways.

Artistic and traditional elements include kigo or words that are related to seasons: (Learn more about kigo here, a different website. The following through Kigo List T-Z are from the same site.)

  • Nature
  • Colors
  • Seasons

Kigo list A-J
Kigo List K-S
Kigo List T-Z

Noted on the site that not all words are Kigo. “Some are haiku TOPICS (keywords) to be used during the whole year.” There are several helpful links in the site’s sidebar.

You use these elements:

  • to give a visual of whatever you are attempting to relay
  • and usually include the season you write it in

Remember you can use 3/5/3 or 2/3/2 syllable structures as well as many others, but the three below are plenty to start with.

Three examples of the same haiku using the different syllable structures.

5/7/5 Example

The tree is falling,

Down among the river rocks,

Fish bring forth new life.

Lines one and two read as: The tree is falling down among the river rocks.

Lines two and three read as: Down among the river rocks, fish bring forth new life.

  1. The tree is falling and dying among the rocks of the river
  2. And fish are living and bring life among the rocks of the river
  3. Two opposite things happening.
  • Note the capitalization and punctuation in the haiku. It is important to use those wisely to convey your intended message.

3/5/3 Example

tree falling

among river rocks

fish new life


2/3/2 Example

tree falls

mid stream’s rock

new life


1/2/1 Example

tree

feeds water

life

Strangely enough, I like the 2/3/2 version the best and this is the first time I’ve tried one. This is an update on September 12, 2020. The original post is from July 02, 2014. As you can see, over six years and my first try.


Opposites are not a MUST, but are the true way of Haiku and add to the challenge. And you don’t want to reveal to much in the haiku so the reader is able to make an interpretation. Do not let that prevent you from writing. The more you write the closer you get to achieving true Haiku.

Matsuo Bashō Statue Haiku

As Matsuo Bashō put it,

“The haiku that reveals seventy to

eighty percent of its subject is good.

Those that reveal fifty to sixty percent,

we never tire of.”

 

 


My original Haiku reveals 100%.

 The tree is falling,

Down among the river rocks,

Fish bring forth new life.

 

Can I take the Haiku and make it fifty to sixty percent? 

Life splinters apart,

Down among slippery mounds,

Life brings forth new life.

In this new version, the same thing is said but also leaves some interpretation to the reader, which in a way I like to do for the reader. Give the reader something they can connect within their own way. It is easy to slip away from writing haiku this way as you begin to play around with different themes.

That is the basic way I usually like to write Haiku but often veer off into another message. It is fun, challenging, and an artform. I am not saying I am an artist, but I do believe those who can do it well, are. I am still a finger painter in this world, but I enjoy staining my skin in the ink.

To get to the point where you can consistently write like a true Haiku artist it could take years, but writing is the purpose and eventually, you get there, if that’s where you want to go. Otherwise, enjoy the way you want to write and the message you wish.


Below should be all you need to help with Haiku: Sure there are plenty of sites you’ll discover, some thatt even write the haiku for you, but why?

  • The best syllable counter is the dictionary. Others I’ve used will give different counts to the same word or the same Haiku. Stick to the dictionary. I’m deleting the syllable counter link from my poetry challenge with my next challenge, 10/12/2020. https://www.merriam-webster.com/
  • For synonyms, thesaurus.com. It also provides antonyms and the drop box where you enter your word also includes DEFINITIONS as an option.
  • The Kigo Lists

For other types of Haiku click and read-Haiku, Tanka, and Haibun. It’s all poetry to me. Learn the difference.

To learn Freku, which I came up with, click and read – NEW FORM of Haiku & Poetry.

To learn the Shi Rensa or Four Chain haiku, click and read – Four Chain | Shi Rensa Haiku.

For examples of my own Haiku offerings click here and you will leave this page.

For a list of the weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenges and the current challenge post I host, click here and you will leave this page.

Much Respect

Ronovan

Originally posted July 02, 2014.


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