How to Start Writing Poetry

All the basics, in 4 easy steps.

Zachary Burres
4 min readDec 13, 2019


1. Tell a story with images

Well, you could just describe images. That can be poetry too. But I think the best poetry also tells a story, and uses imagery to do that.

What is imagery?

In a poem, would you rather read this very boring story:
Bob went to the store

Or this one full of imagery:
A young fellow in old worn boots marched down a dirt path to get fresh milk

The first one informs, but the second one paints a picture too. Providing concrete images, sounds, tastes — sensory details in general — is how you paint a mental picture for the reader.

Hint: use nouns. Nouns are things we can picture.

But also think about what those nouns are doing — notice how in my mini-story above, Bob marched to the store rather than just walked or sauntered.

Imagery details like that make you wonder — what’s up with him? Maybe he’s pissed that his kid spilled milk everywhere, and that’s why he’s headed to the store to replace it.

What is a story?

On that note, let’s define story. To me, a story is what happens when a character goes after a value. A character is something that wants and acts, and a value is the thing they want to achieve or accomplish.

In our mini-story above, Bob is the character who wants and acts, and milk from the store is what his goal is.

Everything that happens related to that is his story, which is important because readers tend to empathize with characters. As they surmount obstacles and either succeed or fail in relation to their goal, we feel their excitement or frustration with them.

2. Rhyme, but not perfectly

Rhyming happens when two words sound similar to each other. If they often sound extremely similar and in a perfect pattern, like alternating rhyme and time, you’ll sound like Dr. Seuss writing for kids.

“One fish two fish, red fish blue fish…” It’s TOO perfect and organized to be exciting. Excitement happens when you…



Zachary Burres

Obsessed with psychology, philosophy, and spirituality.