Xulon Press Ask the Editor
Genre Types - Poetry

Scene One: Your Book and Poetry

Xulon Press, From the Desk of the EditorLike a fluffy, well-placed ribbon cascading down a vase of fresh flowers, adding poetry into a manuscript is a small touch which adds a lot of beauty—if done correctly. If done incorrectly, it can clash with, distract from, or (worse) obliterate any view of the original masterpiece. How do you make sure that you’re using poetry in a way that enhances your book? Think theater: if your book was a play, poetry is used to set the stage for the audience.

1) Raising the Curtain.

Poetry can be used as a dramatic introduction at the beginning of a chapter. Write (or borrow from one of the experts) a short stanza that introduces the theme of the chapter or hints at a coming development in the plot. Place it in italics between the chapter title and the beginning of the chapter. Don’t forget to credit the author if you didn’t write it!

Chapter Five

Roses are red.

Violets are blue.

They each have a purpose.

Which flower are you?

As Gloria sipped her morning coffee in the garden, she wondered about the preacher’s message. Did God really have a plan for her life?

2) Closing the Curtain.

Poetry at the end of the chapter is used in just the opposite fashion: to sum up the theme of the chapter, or the events which took place in a piece of fiction. It is also placed in italics, just after the ending of the chapter.

…Remember that the struggles of life dim your sense of hope, but our God promises to overcome our doubts, insecurities and fear.

Push and pull; or put up a fight.

His love will still find you, just like morning light.

 3) Poetic Interludes.

This method is the trickiest, and most often misused. Occasionally, poetry can be interjected into the middle of a story. When used correctly, it adds impact, suspense or raw emotion. Be sure that the poem is short, focused and ties directly and concretely into the topic of the chapter. Just like the interlude of the play, it is a short break from the scene but is directly tied into the overall story.

As I look back on my childhood, I can always hear in the back of my mind the words of my grandmother. She never ceased to believe that her entire family would continue their education and have a profound impact on the world.

Hear me, oh sweet one.

Learn your ABC’s.

Addition and subtraction,

Really are the keys.

So it was with shaking hands that I opened that letter which I had received back from Harvard.

Use these tricks to place poetry in your book, and don’t forget to “pause for the applause!”


Brittnee Newman, Marketing & Communications Strategist for Xulon Press, has been a blogger, freelance journalist and editor for just over half a decade. She joined Xulon Press as an editor in 2012, and now supports the company within the Marketing Department. Follow her on Twitter at @XulonBrittnee.

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