Mysterious Cycle 5: Workshop by Lovetodeviate

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This workshop is now CLOSED. Please find below the 5 entries from this workshop, in which we encourage everyone to read. At the last workshop we asked whether every one of our members could consider responding to at least 1 of these entries and we hope as many of you will.


in alphabetical order of final draft title

by AstarteKatz
Your own arms won’t keep you warm 1 (draft 1)
Your own arms won’t keep you warm 2 (draft 2)

by GaioumonBatou
Sands of Time (draft 1)
Sands of Time take Two (draft 2)

by GrimEden
After Marcella V 10 (draft 1)

by kill-em-with-poetry
Sparrow Bombing (draft 1)
Battle at the Lime Trees (draft 2)

by dr3amup
Lies that we tell (draft 1)
Lies that we tell ourselves (draft 2)

May 18, 2008

:postit: lovetodeviate's Workshop

lovetodeviate has settled quite comfortably into her new role as a literature GD, still keeping up her commitment as co admin to this workshop too. A very popular writer for many who watch her, and she has been published in several literature journals. lovetodeviate also hosted a workshop in cycle three entitled  I, Me, Myself

Take a look at her workshop on revising prose pieces.

:star:GROOM YOUR POEM!:star:

I had a teacher who used to say that poems are like people, each with a different personality: some poems are bold and tell you what they think right away; others are shy and need to be coaxed into revealing who they are. My teacher was talking about understanding poems, but the same thing applies when you approach a poem that needs revision. Poems can be absolutely wily creatures, ready to slip away just when you know what needs to be done.

That's why I think revision is so enjoyable: the chase. You need to be stronger than your poem to wrestle with it, groom it, tame it. And when you're done, you can let go and hopefully, watch your poem flourish.

The best part is that despite all their pretence, poems have no feeling whatsover, and you can be as brutal to them as you like. Chop them into couplets. Break their bones (er, lines)... It looks like I'm getting carried away with my extended metaphor (watch out for that!), so let me get to the (heh) meat of it.

:pencil: How to pick a poem to groom

Ideally, you should be revising all or most of your poems, but for this workshop, you need to pick just one. It's up to you how you want to do that, but a couple of tips for those who are unsure:

:pointr: Pick a poem that has received a lot of critique, as that will give you something to work on.

:pointr: Pick a poem from which you have achieved sufficient distance to be called its audience. This is something we discussed previously during Personal Review Week. Time and other factors can help you look at a poem as if you were merely a reader, and not its author. With a weakened or non-existent emotional attachement to the poem, you will be able to see its flaws more easily.

:pencil: What to groom in your poem

Usually, the workshop host mentions in detail what s/he wants you to do for the workshop and mentions resources for extra help. But I'm going to send you to the most useful resource possible for revision poetry and ask you to read that. This isn't extra reading, it's a must-read. And here it is: Tips for Editing Poetry by suture

There is no way I will be able to go into as much detail with as many examples in this writeup. Besides, that article was written by someone far (far, far) more experienced than I. Just take my word for it, and read. Let me also add that that was the article that helped me most when I first realised that my poetry needed revision. The author goes into most of the basic problems with early poem drafts: padding (of words); adjectives and adverbs; conversational grammar; rhyming; stale (/boring/overused) word choice; cliches; and ambiguity.

In addition, I'd like you to look at three things.

:pointr: Grammar: Many people think poetry doesn't require conventional grammar. This is untrue. Sure, sometimes you can use poetic license as a reason for experimentation. Other times, the poem may itself be an experiment in form; or, it could be written in a peculiar dialect. Unless there is a specific reason for it to be otherwise, make sure your poem consists of coherent, properly phrased sentences.

:pointr: Enjambment/Line breaks: The suture mentions this, but doesn't go into detail. In short, line breaks are important. Don't make them arbitrary. Linebreaks serve to create pauses, to highlight certain words or ideas, and sometimes, to allow for multiple interpretations. For more detailed information, try this: On the Matter of Line Breaks.

:pointr: Logic: This sounds funny, I know. Some poems are dream-like, surreal -- how can they be logical? Well, what I'm really looking for is consistency. Consistency in the form, the narrative (if there is one), the extended metaphor (if that's what you're using), and the use of language/accent/dialect.

:pencil: How to groom your poem

Unlike prose, poetry does not need to be revised to cater to an audience. That's my belief, anyway. However, this is no excuse for inaccessibility. True, poems are often by nature complex, but that does not mean only you should be able to understand them. It's best to create an imaginary reader for your poems, or think of someone real, who will challenge and question everything you write -- in such a way that the best comes out of it.

The next thing goes back to my introduction about poems being different. This means that each poem may require a different approach, and as the poet, it's your job to recognise what that approach is. Don't be afraid to experiment, though. You can always go back to the original if things don't work out.

Here are two major approaches to revising a poem (there are many varying shades of these, of course):

:pointr: The Trim: Here's where your apply most of what suture was talking about. Check if your metre and rhymes are consistent, if your line breaks make sense; remove extra words, especially adjectives and adverbs; find some new words to use instead of the boring, old ones. And then prune, prune, prune, till you get it right.

:pointr: The Complete Makeover: Don't be afraid to change your poem completely, retaining only a few lines, figures of speech, whatever. Some poems need it. You may want to change the form, style or voice of the poem. You may want to rewrite the poem using an extended metaphor. You can also try combining two poems, or splitting one poem into two. Take a risk. It might pay off.

Once you're done, step away and look at the big picture. Does the poem work? (And of course, send it in so I can read. :P )

:pencil: Develop your own grooming style

Eventually, you'll have to figure out your own style of revision. If you already have a process -- a method of revision -- then don't let me change it (or change it much). Do what works for you, and send in the revision anyway. But if you're unsure about how to proceed, then this writeup is designed to give you some ideas, a few nudges in the right direction.

Also, do read the interview with Martin Lammon that suture linked to at the bottom of their article: Flying Revision's Flag. Lammon famously revised one poem six hundred times. He himself says that that is "anomalous", but it's worth seeing how and why revision works for him, and to compare that with other poets.


This workshop is for POETRY only.
Please do not submit more than one entry for this workshop.
Try to follow :devlovetodevaite:'s workshop as best you can.
Feel free to revise a previous workshop entry as you are likely to have received more critique on these entries. But obviously, this is not necessary.

:postit:How to submit

Submit your revised entry as a new deviation or scrap and send us a link to it in a note. Please also send us a link to the original, unrevised version of the piece (and indicate which is which, please). The subject line of the note should be "REVISION POETRY". Entries must come in on or before midnight (GMT/UTC), May 28. lovetodeviate will respond to the entries on June 1st.

:postit: How to accept critique

:bulletblue: Always thank the critic. This gratitude must be as sincere as possible, even if you did not like the critique given, because the critic has taken time to offer his/her opinion of the piece.
:bulletblue: If you do not like the critique, it is not necessary to mention so. Simply thank the critic and move on. You can always ignore their suggestions, while not making a scene of it.
:bulletblue: If you are unsure of what the critique means, feel free to ask the critic what s/he meant. Building rapport with your critic is one of the best ways to survive in a workshop and to learn. If you want examples, ask. Similarly, if you like the suggestions given, mention it. Critic's have feelings too. :)
:bulletblue: In the unlikely case that a critic offers rude/sexist/racist/etc comments, feel free to contact Writers-Workshop in a note and we will try to help you. A decision regarding the rudeness of the critique will be taken, and if we're not sure ourselves, we will consult with one of the GDs or anyone else high up on deviantART.

:postit: It would be fantastic if you also...

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GrimEden's avatar
I'm working on something for this and just checked to see when I needed to complete it and ... I've still got a week!

I should be able to hone the piece quite a bit by then!

I'm happy because I haven't been writing as much I should be lately, and now I know I have ample time.