How to Edit a Poem

Hello everyone!

Editing a poem can be hard. I know a lot of people who struggle with it. But really, I wanted to give you a little bit of advice especially as Valentines is coming up and you all want to be writing those love poems right?

When it comes to poetry there are five things which should be the key focus of your editing. You need to look at the rhyme and rhythm, the word choice, the message, the punctuation and the structure.
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When it comes to rhyme and rhythm, the best thing to do is read the poem aloud. Reading the poem aloud will help you know if it sounds smooth when it is spoken. Are there too many syllables in a single line? Maybe a word in there needs to be cut, or another word needs to be added to make the line work. It is a little bit of a cheat sheet but sometimes I count the syllables in each line of my poem and if they roughly have the same amount, then usually, but not always, the rhythm is done well. Rhyme is another thing. NOT all poems have to rhyme! But if this one does, does the rhyming sound natural or forced? Is there a pattern to it?

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What is most important about the poem is the message that the poem brings across. Every poem has a message. Whether it is just to make the reader laugh, or to carry across a deep theme, share an opinion or just to highlight the small joys of life – there is always one there. Look for the message in the poem, and if you can’t find it then it is evident that something needs to be done to make it more clear. This is the vital part of the poem! Also, try and have other people read your poem. They might interpret it differently, but if they understand the general message, then you’re good to go!

Hand in hand with the message of the poem is the word choice. Poetry has limited words to it. Sure, it can be as long a poem as you like, but there are fewer words than in a novel so you have to be even more careful with your choices. The word choice should reflect your theme or at least be gearing towards helping get that message across. Also, don’t be afraid to make the effort of looking into beautiful words that could make your poem extra special. Having just the right word in just the right place makes for the best poem.

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Lastly, we move on to the punctuation and structure of the poem. This is something a lot of poets struggle with. Even though poems don’t always have to fit a formal structure, there needs to be a general meaning to the structure. Just like with paragraphs in novels, they have a method to them. A single part of the message should be in one stanza. You can isolate one liners to bring across more effect. The best way to nail structure is to experiment with it. The same pretty much goes into punctuation. When it comes to punctuating your poem remember there doesn’t have to be a capital letter at the start of every new line, and a comma at the end of every line. Take the structure out of your poem and then make it into prose. Put in the normal punctuation where you would – the full stops and the commas and all that. Then put it back into poetry form. That’s a handy trick to get the punctuation right. But remember, also experiment with punctuation because it can add more to your poem!

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This is a good place to start when it comes to editing/writing your poems! Hopefully, this will be of some use to you.

Do you like to edit poetry? Or write your own?

Olivia-Savannah x

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2 thoughts on “How to Edit a Poem

  1. I’ve personally never, ever, ever tried to write a poem before BUT I’m super anxious to try one because I want to improve my writing and what better way to do that than by writing poetry, right?? RIGHT! 😉 I love how you broke all of this down so when I finally sit my butt down and start writing, I’ll come right back to this page lovely! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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