Form

This is probably one of the first decisions you make when you are thinking about writing… often it is the decision you make before you even think about what you want to write.

Form is the type of writing you want to do, and there are often several decisions involved within this process. For example, when you are given a homework assignment in school, the result almost always takes the form of an essay as that is the expectation.

However, when you are writing for yourself, there are a myriad of forms from which to choose. Whether you are writing fiction or nonfiction there are two forms that then subdivide into a myriad of written forms: poetry and prose.

Poetry – haiku, cinquain, ballad, quatrain, rhyming couplets, sonnet, acrostic, free verse (rhymed or unrhymed), clerihew, limerick, sestina, ode, villanelle…

Prose – essay, instructional piece, short story, novel, nonfiction, fiction, memoir, biography, autobiography, review (book/movie/blog), evaluation…

Neither list here is by any means exhaustive. I’d be here all day if I tried that. But it gives you an idea of all the many forms you have to choose from when you decide to write something. I have tried several of these forms myself and will spend some time later going over the different forms, especially of the poetry, and how to write them. If there is enough interest, I might even post some of my own attempts as examples.

More on form – most poets these days try to steer clear of the strict structural rules surrounding many of the poetic forms because they see them as prohibitive. However, like the poets of Byron’s day, I see these strict forms as a challenge to be mastered. Anyone can write free verse, but it takes skill and discipline to take the same subject and, within the constraints of the form, convey something brilliant and relevant.

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5 thoughts on “Form

    • I see so many people on sites like AllPoetry.com who just see form as something restrictive and useless… it’s refreshing to find someone else who agrees that it is simply a challenge to “try me if you dare”. Thanks for the comment.

      • Good writers will flourish despite restiction placed upon them. I write all my posts with a very regimented deiscourse convention – which means I reaally have to play with my word choice and syntax to get outside of it.

        It’s a philosophy I took into the classroom and passed on to my students – restrictions in form force you to make better decisions… You only have to look at the Classical Hollywood film directors – those guys transcended all manner of limitations… Freedom from the outset breeds sloppy habits.

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