How to Write Ballads
- A beginning that sets the stage, introduces principal characters and themes, etc., and introduces some kind of motivating conflict
- A middle that shows the characters struggling through the conflict, and may include some twists and turns
- An end that shows the conflict being resolved or concluded in some way, and describes what happened as a result
Once you have your story, you can focus on writing it in poetic form. Most ballads are written in a fairly rigid verse structure, so once you’ve decided on a meter and rhyme scheme it will be important to stick with it. (Meter is the overall rhythm of each line, the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables; rhyme scheme is the pattern of rhymes from line to line, and together these attributes make up the basic structure of the poem.) Although many ballads are written in quatrains, or four-line stanzas, this is not always the case. Likewise, there is no specific length for a ballad, although they tend to be at least 20-30 lines long, and can easily be much longer. Once they get very long, they start to enter the territory of epic poetry (see section 6), but there’s a lot of grey area between the two.
When to Write Ballads
Since a ballad is a kind of poetry, it’s only appropriate as a form of creative writing. Bear in mind, though, that ballads take much longer to write than other forms of poetry. This is for two reasons: first, you have to come up with a story in addition to the actual words of the poem; second, ballads are usually much longer than other poems, since it takes time to lay out an entire story in poetic form. Because they take longer to write than other poems, ballads should only be undertaken when you have plenty of time to work on them.