One poetic effect, is the idea of a twist.
Here is one example:
and endless hours,
In this case, the first part makes the loosing seem like a bad thing. There was a great deal of effort and then the person lost? The twist though, was that the loosing was actually good. He lost weight, which presumably, was a goal.
Here is another example:
they roamed the street
with eyes and teeth aglow
they approached the home
seeking to consume
that which was within
and at the door
as those within came forth
they shrieked their horrible call,
“Trick or treat!”
This poem is about Halloween. The poem at first sounds like some monsters are about and they are going to eat people in a home. In reality, they are trick or treaters dressed up for Halloween hoping to get candy.
Here is a third example:
the sun was shining
and the flowers,
filled the air with fragrance
dressed in their best
as music played
waiting to be released
as a hush came over the crowd
the slightest of signals
and the funeral began
This poem seems to start off happy. It sounds like it is describing an outdoor wedding. It’s a sunny day, there are fragrance filled flowers, there are lots of people who are dressed up, music is playing, and doves are going to be released. In the twist though, this happy scene is really sad. The scene is of a funeral. All the bright things are in some way a cover for sadness. The sadness of the scene is revealed at the end.
Here are some tips for using twists in your poems:
- Have a lead in. For a twist to work there needs to be an appropriate lead in. It needs to be long enough and effective enough that the reader forms an image and emotion in their mind.
- Consider offsetting the twist. One way to create a pause for a twist, is to have it indented, after some number of line breaks, or both. The idea is to have a dramatic pause to emphasize the twist.
- Consider your title. The title can be part of the lead in or it can be a twist as well. You can have a title that alludes to the reality of the poem while seeming to fit with the lead in. If done correctly, this can amplify the effect of the twist.
- Don’t go too far with a twist. Be careful not to turn off your audience with a twist. Turning something happy to something sad is all right. Turning something happy to something disturbing, might not be.
- Know the twist before you start. This can make setting it up easier. If you just write a scene with some emotion, but aren’t sure what the cause of the emotional change will be, it can make the lead in difficult to write and less effective.
- Consider multiple kinds of twists. You can twist from happy to sad, from serious to silly, from large to small, from calm to excitement, and many other things. Also, you can twist the other way, for example sad to happy or silly to serious.
- Make sure the twist makes sense. The twist should be an opposite. You can twist from happy to sad, but happy to serious might not work as well. In the third poem above, the happy scene of a wedding was twisted to the sad scene of a funeral. If this happy scene though had twisted to something like the opening of an office building, it might not have worked as well.
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