Poetry was something that didn’t come naturally. I wasn’t interested in writing it, much less reading it. Somehow or another I’ve come to love poetry as well as writing it. I have and continue to write on a range of subjects. With each piece I try to make it different, especially when writing on the same subject. However, I realize that I do favor certain words, phrases and images in my poetry within each subject.
Because of these favoritisms I sometimes like to breakdown the elements of a particular poem I have in mind to write. Breaking down a poem helps me to: see each part individually, focus on the message and/or image I want to convey, decide which parts to elevate and how to elevate them, and critically think about the poem as a whole.
Doing this also forces me to think about my word choice and decide if I should use a synonym versus the actual word or create my own using imagery instead. I try to show rather than tell in my poetry. Showing instead of telling is something I read a lot about on writing novels and short stories. I try to make the same balance in my poetry.
Dissecting the poem before writing it helps me to find the words and phrases that will help me to show instead of tell. I find that certain words spark an image. If those imagery words can be joined with words that trigger the senses, I think it strikes the right tone for the poet. I’m not a student of poetry in the formal sense so this is pretty much my observation from my own experience in self-study, writing, and opinion.
Why am I writing about this you ask?
Because I have a Valentine’s Day poem waiting to be posted. I used this method for the piece that will appear on the 14th. I’ve also used this breakdown method in the past to help others write their own poem.
This breakdown method is a great way for the poet to focus their thoughts and map a way from beginning to end of a poem. Again, my opinion and it works for me. There’s no structured way to break the poem down. It’s basically just jotting down notes and connecting similar ideas to one another. It’s in the associations and connections of this information where I find my poem.
What works for you?
Whenever I start a project I always end up having what I call Just In Case Notes. I don’t ever plan on having these notes, they just pop up. The reason why they pop up is because these are actual pieces taken from a novel/short story/short story series that I don’t like. HOWEVER, just because I don’t like them or they don’t fit doesn’t mean I delete/throw them away. I just take them out and put them aside in case I can use them later.
This recently just happened with my current novel project. I had taken out a large chunk of text because I decided that the information in it was appearing too soon (like chapter one too soon). So I cut the chunk out, rewrote that part of the novel and put the chunk in a separate file in case I could use it in a later portion. Well, it turned out perfect. Of the large chunk I took, only a small portion was the perfect fit to the novel. I love when this happens because it means I already had what I needed before I even needed it. On top of that, it’s already written so I don’t have to do much work at trying to fit it in. It just fits. Lovely 🙂 🙂
For me, my developing stage is where the details hatch out of the shell, if you will. I begin to write down the checkpoints between point A and point B. See in the ideation stage I only have the idea and the main point(s) of the story. But in developing the story further, I have to find the points that will connect everything together. This is where the details come in. Details on the story, backstory, characters (weight, height, ethnicity, personalities, etc.), time period, world building, etc.
Now granted some of these things are developed when I’m actually producing the project. A prime example are my characters. In the past, when I first started writing, I never really took the time to get to know my characters. They would develop as I wrote their story. This is back when I was younger. Now that I’m older, I’m experimenting with developing my characters before I write. It’s okay, but there are times when I just say bump it, I’ll just write and see what comes of if. I do like the spontaneity of letting the characters develop and their stories along with them.
The developing stage is also where I gather some of the notes on certain aspects of the project. If there is any research that I have to do, plot points that are missing, filling in minor gaps and the like. All of this has notes and none of these notes are really all that organized ;-). I’ll have notes for one project written down on paper, other notes on the same project stored in the computer or a thumb drive or stored on some other device. I label them so I know which project they go to though. All my written notes are stored together in a file.
It’s at this point that when I feel I’ve gathered enough information then I can start writing the novel. I don’t have to have all the answers or all the information because things always change. I just need a jumping off point. When I feel I’ve found that jumping point then I start the production stage…