Poetry Writing Exercises 021: Monday 4th February

Here are your four poetry exercises for today. Time yourself for 15 minutes for each one, then either have a break or move on to the next one.

021 suitcase 20720You can do them in any order.

  1. Keywords: torch, pop, swallow, beige, snow
  2. Picture: what does this picture inspire?
  3. Random: you are waiting for something / someone
  4. Title: The Ticket

Have fun, and do paste your writing in the comment boxes below so we can see how you got on!

See below for explanations of the prompts, they will vary…

  • Sentence starts = what it says on the tin. You can use it at the beginning of the poem or include it later, and being poetry it doesn’t have to be exact – just be inspired by it.
  • Keywords = the words have to appear in the poem but can be in any order and can be lengthened (e.g. clap to clapping).
  • Single-word prompt = sometimes all it takes is one word to spawn an idea. Sometimes it easy, sometimes hard but invariably fun.
  • Mixed bag = an object, a location, a colour.
  • Picture prompts = nothing other than a picture. What does it conjure up?
  • Title = The title for your piece.
  • Haiku poem= 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables
  • Random = whatever takes my fancy!


  • Don’t forget your five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, smell
  • Show don’t tell: if your character is angry, don’t tell us he is, have him thumping his fist on the table.
  • Colours: Include at least one colour in your story. It does add depth.
  • Use strong verbs and avoid adverbs: Have a character striding instead of walking confidently.
  • Only use repetition to emphasise.
  • When you’ve finished the first draft, read the story out loud. It’s surprising how many ‘mistakes’ leap out at you when you read out loud… assuming you have any of course!

Pictures courtesy of morguefile.com

I love to talk about writing so feel free to email me. I’ll be pasting these prompts in this blog’s Facebook Group so you may find some other comments there.

If you’d like to submit a poem for critique on this site, see Submissions. The other critique writing groups are:

Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group

Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group

Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group

Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group

Thank you for reading this and we look forward to your comments.

4 responses to “Poetry Writing Exercises 021: Monday 4th February

    Two hundred degrees centigrade; there is no instruction; I made it up; lid lies down; a table for a feast; stricken with gloops of fat; glistening sickeningly at me; reaching; can’t quite feel my fingers now; white tentacles don’t belong to me; never did; I was never a part of this; this kitchen; the domain of the Mary Berry woman; cakes never baked; nor a bun in the oven; just me; gas creeps into my nostrils; smells of school; always loved those moments before; matches out of reach now; not needed; lungs are the only tool; breathe deeply; sleep long; oven is ready; falling into…

  2. Wow. That’s my kind of poem. Congrats, Zac and thank you for writing from a prompt.

  3. Loved this exercise. I’ll try to do more. This poem is raw and just went onto the page, I guess if I’d have gone over it I would have added more imagery, and not sure about using Mary Berry upon reading it this morning. Great exercise to do though, I tried another one but got stuck, I suppose I am my own worst critic! Bring on the next challenge Morgen!!!

  4. Excellent! This is the 21st set of four exercises so plenty more for you to do (they’re listed on https://poetrywritinggroup.wordpress.com/exercises) and there’ll be another set of four tonight (5.45pm UK time). Four every weekday evening so plenty to keep you busy.

    Mary Berry’s very topical. I’d keep her in.

    Thanks again for doing this and sharing it. I mentioned you on http://www.facebook.com/groups/388850977875934 yesterday. 🙂

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