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Listen to the sounds of words.

Listen to the sounds of words to see how they create the effect you wish to achieve. You might use words that match their sounds and meanings to create one mood, or words that have dissonance between sound and meaning to create a different effect. Here are some specifics:

  • Short vowels are harsher. Long vowels are smoother. -- To give your poem a harsher feeling, use words with short vowel sounds. To give it a smoother and more soothing feel, use long vowel sounds. Even look at the words used to describe the two effects. Harsh has a short vowel. Smooth and soothing use a long vowel sound. Rough is a short vowel. Serene has stress on the long e in the second syllable. Not all words conform in this way. Take placid or mean (as in nasty).

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