Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 23, 2011

Poetic Tools For Prose

Ann Whitford Paul, author of WRITING PICTURE BOOKS says, “Just because you are not a poet doesn’t mean you can’t use some poetic tools.”  Here are some to try:

ALLITERATION:  This is the repetition of the initial consonant sounds of words in a sucession, such as long, low lullaby.  Using too many together can turn a sentence into a tongue twister and a nightmare to read.  Remember when writing picture books, your words will be read out loud, so your words need to flow off the tongue.

ASSONANCE:  This is the repetition of vowel sounds in succession, as in:  Sweep street clean.  You can pick up the long e, but you can make the sounds more subtle and still have impact.  Would you sweep the street in front of our house?  Alice Schertle, author of Very Hairy Bear, uses assonance twice:  “KERPLUNK! He’ll even dunk his no hair nose.”  The short U sound is repeated, as is the long O sound. 

CONSONANCE:   This repeats the same middle and end sounds as in fat cat sat or beginning and ending consonants in a word sequence such as click, clack or sniffle, snuffle.  For prose spread out:  He heard the click and then the clack of the train coming down the track.

ONOMATOPOEIA:  Words that imitate sounds.  Click here for list.  Kids and adults love these word, because they are easy to  and fun to read.

Homework:  Pull out your manuscript.  Did you use any of the above techniques in your text?  Could you improve what you wrote, if you added some of them in your sentences?

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I love your word list, Kathy! I’ve always wondered what onomatopoeia words exist in other languages for the same thing–like, would a French person laugh because we say babbling brook?


  2. This is a brilliant resource and reminder, thanks!


  3. I’m a HUGE fan of these and use them all the time—-even when I’m NOT writing 🙂 “Yea!” for the play with words!


  4. I just accidentally stumbled across your page, I myself write poetry and really enjoy it. Thanks for the reads! I’ll definitely come back in the future to see new updates


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