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Poetry to Prose

Updated: Oct 19, 2023


Maybe I’ve stumbled over one too many literary clichés, both in amateur writing and shamefully in conventionally published novels. And, ‘It was in dialogue, that character would be prone to the use of cliché,’ excuse is wearing very thin with me. Whatever you write reflect


s you. Don’t let your characters mark you with the brand of a bankrupt imagination, when [1] it’s not true (hopefully), and [2] it’s so easily avoided.


If you need a nudge in the right direction (to inspire, not plagiarise), and who doesn’t? turn to the poets. Just because you are writing prose, even, and especially, hardboiled prose, doesn’t mean it can’t be poetic.


Looking for a masterclass in alliteration? Who better than Edgar Allan Poe:


Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;

And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow

From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—

For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—

Nameless here for evermore.


Looking for a masterclass in analogy? Who better than Oscar Wilde:


I never saw a man who looked

With such a wistful eye

Upon that little tent of blue

Which prisoners call the sky

And every drifting cloud that went

With sails of silver by.


Looking for a masterclass in metaphor? Who better that Thomas Hardy:


Clouds spout upon her

Their waters amain

In ruthless disdain, –

Her who but lately

Had shivered with pain

As at touch of dishonour

If there had lit on her

So coldly, so straightly

Such arrows of rain:


I leave you with Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely, where we are introduced to Moose Malloy — a man ‘as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food.’


Just because you are writing prose doesn’t mean you get a free pass to be unoriginal or you are not permitted the use of assonance, consonance, and, yes, even enjambment.


(This being very much in the nature of a 'note to self.')

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