When I revise my poems, I follow a checklist, to help guide the process, and to make sure I consider all aspects of my writing.
The list is not static – I add to the checklist from time to time. I am also not rigid about following my ‘rules’. Sometimes breaking the ‘rule’ makes for a better poem.
Checklist for poetry revisions:
1. look for ‘which’ and ‘that’
2. look for words used more than once
3. look for weak verbs, especially ‘to be’
4. consider alternative words (maximize the contribution of each word, consider meaning, internal rhyme)
5. consider – could small words could be removed (a, the) ?
6. transform ‘ing’ words to active verbs
7. note what ‘stops’ you as you read – consider editing these phrases or words
8. be truthful – when it isn’t right, return to truth
9. should you use singular or plural ?
10. use ‘active’ rather than ‘passive’
Consider the title. Make the title work.
Decide who is speaking and don’t shift unless you clarify. Situate yourself in the poem.
Read the poem aloud.
Copyright Jane Tims 2012