Your Words Come Alive With a Hint of Music

Updated May 10

Let’s leave the essay form behind
For just a beat or two.
(Go easy, please. The Bard I’m not!
But only a poem will do.)

Form must follow function,
And this form, although demanding,
Gives us access to a different
Kind of understanding.

Things that are worth saying need
To say more than they say.
By this I mean that sound and rhythm
Have a role to play.

You might not write poetry.
You might not use rhyme.
But elements of poetry
Make common words sublime.

Struggling with a title
As appealing as cold trout?
A bit of alliteration
Makes it jump right out.

Double up a consonant:
M-M, B-B, L-L.
Tea for the Tillerman
Cat Stevens does it well.

Invite your readers in
With a title they can hum:
Re-Thinking In-Line Linking[1]—
Look out, Nelly! Here they come!

Struggling with a clincher?
Want to strike a chord?
Inject a subtle cadence,
And—voilà—you are adored.

Take a tip from Shakespeare,
Who sent Hamlet offstage rhyming.
People pay attention
When your tagline swings with timing.

Jotting down a list of things
Or series of like phrases?
Keep the structure parallel:
All nouns, all verbs, all whatever as long as no clunkers break the pattern.

If music be the food of love,
Let it feed your writing too.
Make the hills come alive with the vibes of your syllables
Ricocheting through.

Channel Theodor Geisel
(The playful Dr. Seuss).
Pentameterize an iamb or two,
Turn your writing loose!

Tap your toes, and you will find
That your readers want to stay.
Shape and tune ’til it sounds just right—
You’ll take their breath away.

It doesn’t matter what you write.
You can keep your line breaks random.
But you’ll never regret daring to set
Meaning and “music” in tandem.

(Don’t write like this—good heavens.
This is pure exaggeration.
Give sentences and paragraphs
Just a hint of syncopation.)

You get the point, no need to make
This poem any longer.
I’ll sum it up. Here’s how to make
Strong writing even stronger:

Jazz your phrasing up a lick—
Dull writing is a bummer.
Fine tune your inmost inner ear.
Release your inner drummer.

[1] Mark Baker, “Re-Thinking In-Line Linking: DITA Devotees Take Note!,” The Content Wrangler blog, May 3, 2012,

8 thoughts on “Your Words Come Alive With a Hint of Music

  1. Wonderful! I’m going to read it a few more times and drink in all the details, but couldn’t wait to say how much I love it. “Release your inner drummer…” That’s so perfect. Thanks for writing and sharing it, Marcia.

  2. LOVE IT! Like vitamin-enriched chocolate, your poem brought me a smile as well as instruction.

Comments are closed.