Helpful hints for new poets

So, you are a poet. You know this because cryptic, symbolic, and interesting language seems to tap out of your fingers. It impresses your friends, bores your family, but you are hooked. You want to make more and to become better at it.
“How do I improve my poem?” You wonder.

Critique is helpful, sometimes only to shake your head at. It is easy for a reader or teacher or colleague to suggest revision, but how do you do it? It is like that infernal commentary “You have to get out of your box, leave your comfort zone.”
You aren’t afraid of hard work nor are you opposed to revision, it is just that getting started is hard. How do we leave our boxes?

First, write your poem or type it, get the entire thing out of your head where you can look at it. Then copy and paste it onto a blank sheet. Keep the original. Work from the copy.
Next, remove all of the -ly adverbs you can. See if you can convert them to noun/verb combinations if the adverb really interested you.
Next, get rid of all of the articles. “The, a, these, this, that”
Relax if it feels awkward and leave it for a few minutes.
Remove or replace as many ” to be ” verbs as you can. ” Is ,was ,are ,has been”
Don’t use the word ” got” or ” get”. Many interesting synonyms exist for this word.
Replace with more concrete verbs if possible.
You can take out every single word until all you have left are nouns and verbs. The skeleton of the poem. You want every word or as many words as possible to show, smell, look, sound, feel your images so that the reader can use her/his five senses to bond with your own five senses to fully participate or enter the poem.
People like what they can relate to.
Try two or three versions copied out and reduced to the skeleton and then add words here and there. Whether you ‘re on a keyboard or in a notebook, use your Thesaurus.
Read it aloud to the dog. Dogs are notorious for loyal support, cats? Not so much. If your cat has eased her bottom onto your paper or keyboard, probably you ‘ve been at it a really long time. Taking a break is a good idea.

You can do it. It might feel funny at first, but once you get into the habit of removing and replacing words, you will be well on your way.

Today’s quote on revision from Lewis Carroll and said by the Queen of Hearts, ” Off with their heads!”
Happy writing.


2 Responses to “Helpful hints for new poets”

  1. marthakeimstlouis Says:

    Reblogged this on Marthakeimstlouis’s Blog and commented:
    as I have said. Write short.

  2. clover58 Says:

    Reblogged this on Clover's pages.

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