Friday, October 12, 2007

Poetry Tips: The Importance of Each Line

One of the most challenging things about completing your poem is reading it over to make sure each line is just as important as the next. For example, is every line interesting? Does the story line make sense overall? Are there any extra words or images that don’t blend with the rest of the poem? These are questions to ask throughout.

The most important thing you can do is to pay special attention to the first stanza. Often, the first stanza is like turning the key in your car’s ignition: It is the only way to get your engine started, but it does not get the car move. Sometimes you need to eliminate the first stanza because it was only needed to start the poem before running. Stanzas 2 through the last stanza may sound amazing, but the first stanza may need some work. Or it may need to be eliminated altogether.

The first line of the poem is the most important after the title. The first line has to grab the reader’s attention and it has to keep the reader wanting more. If it is lackluster then you might want to re-work it or get rid of it.

You also may have one line in the entire poem that sounds fantastic, it may be the only line that “carries” the poem. Here, you have a decision to make. Either take the line out so the rest of the poem blends well or use the fantastic line in another poem altogether. A poem can not survive on just one fantastic line. Each line has to be just as fantastic as the next one.

I don’t care what anyone says, you need a title. The title is the most important line in the poem. Some poems seem obscure or hard to understand without their title. Titles are more difficult than most people realize. It has to clue the reader in to what the poem entails, it has to grab attention, and if it is too long you’ll lose the reader’s interest. Sometimes it is easier to grab a key word in your poem for the title. Other times, your poem may skirt around a subject and the best title would be the subject itself. Always try to title your poems. You don’t have to title them right away. You can always come back later, especially if you go to bed thinking about a title and sleep on it. The brain always continues working while you’re sleeping, you’ll surely wake up in the morning with an idea or two.
I hope your muse guides you while you write, and I will see you tomorrow to discuss another great blog…

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