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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Golden Nuggets for the Poet: Writing Poetry That Sells

(c) Susan Elliott
Writing good poetry is more than expressing emotion. Good poetry must contain certain elements of style, and must be cohesive. These are absolute musts for anyone who wants to sell poetry.

Some common mistakes include: forced rhymes, mixed metaphors, non-directional, unnecessary repetition, bad meter and random wording.

Example of BAD poetry:

She stood upon the cold, cold ground

She stood and looked all around

She saw the snow, and ice, abound

She felt that on the ice she would go down.


This example shows forced rhyme, especially in the last line, as well as a loss in rhythm (or meter).
While a change in meter can be appropriate at times, the above example is obviously in need of improvement.

The repetition of the word "she" and starting each sentence with the idea that she did something does not work in this example.

There are some forms of poetry where repetition is desired, but remember this repetition is not necessary in every form of poetry.


Ways to re-write the example poem:

Re-write the beginning line.

Original line 1: She stood upon the cold, cold ground
Revised line 1: Standing upon the cold, cold ground

Or use the original line and re-write the second.

Original line 1:She stood upon the cold, cold, ground
Revised line 2: Timidly looking all around

Notice the use of the "ly" and "ing" endings. This helps the poem to move forward at a faster pace, and it cuts out the repetitive boring nature of the first poem.

So, now we have:

Option 1

She stood upon the cold, cold ground
Timidly looking all around

Option 2

Standing upon the cold, cold ground
Timidly looking all around

Notice the difference in the flow of the poem when compared to the original version.

Consider the forced rhyme in the last stanza. This is a common mistake.

Notice the last line:

Original last line: She felt that on the ice she would go down.

This line is like nails on a chalkboard. It has sloppy wording, and bad meter.

Options: remove part of the line, re-write the entire line, or remove the last line entirely.

Now, contrast the original with the rewritten version.

Original:

She stood upon the cold, cold ground
She stood and looked all around
She saw the snow, and ice, abound
She felt that on the ice she would go down.

Revised (Still Not Perfect, but BETTER):

Standing upon the cold, cold ground
Timidly looking all around
She saw the snow, and ice, abound.

Things to Remember:

1. Don't force rhyme or meter.
2. Repetition can be good, but is not always necessary.
3. Poetry does NOT have to rhyme, but it does have to flow well, written and spoken word poetry both.
4. Don't be afraid to cut the poem down. Revision always helps to polish your work.
5. Try to keep metaphors, and similes related, or extend your metaphor for the entire work. Remember poems, are generally short works that don't work well with too many unrelated similes or metaphors.
6. Don't use "raw" or unrefined emotion in the poem. Often times "raw" emotions only make sense to the person writing the poem.
7. Always read your poem aloud, to yourself first, and then to another. This will help determine if your work has good flow.
8. Don't be afraid to ask for critiques. Critiques are beneficial to all styles of writing.
9. Sometimes after writing a poem, it is important to set it aside for a while, especially when dealing with an extremely personal topic.
10. Have fun, and write as often as you can!


Why not give poetry writing a try? 

Don't forget to check out the poets Susan Elliott, and Teresa Hampton.




1 comment:

  1. Poetry is my life-blood, and I've started a new poetry collection!

    ReplyDelete