Saturday, November 4, 2017

Prompt #297 – Top Ten Tips

Often, when I offer tips for writing poems, I include one of more of the following items that I feel are important to remember. I used to do a "High Five," but I've added to that list. There are, of course, many other “tips” for writing poetry, but observing these will help move your poems toward final versions that shine. 

1. Avoid the passive voice.

2. Eliminate “ing” endings wherever you can.

3. Limit use of adjectives.

4. Avoid prepositional phrases when you can.

5. Get rid of articles (a, an, the) as much as possible.

6. Create images that are unique and memorable.

7. Avoid overstatement and too many details—show, don’t tell.

8. Stay away from clichés, abstractions, and sentimentality.

9. Create layers of meaning—point toward something bigger than the body of the poem.

10. Work on form and format (syntax, line breaks, and stanzaic arrangements).

This week’s challenge is to look through some already-written poems (that you consider “finished”) and to “checklist” it using the ten tips above. 


1. Take a look at a poem you’ve already written and apply the preceding items as a checklist for editing. 
2. Go through your poem one item at a time and see if there are changes you can make. 
3. After you’ve finished, compare your original version and the newly edited one. Is the edited version stronger than the original?

 4. Try this with other "finished" poems too!



  1. So helpful,Adele! Can't thank you enough for this compact and practical editing tool.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Jamie! So glad you fine the "tips" useful!

  2. Okay if I copy this and print it out for the creative writing students? I'll give you full credit, of course, and acknowledgment to the blog.

    1. Absolutely okay, Rich! And thanks for the acknowledgment.

  3. I copied, pasted, and printed the 10 tip and taped them to my printer (easy to see when I'm writing at my desk). Many thanks!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Sandy! I'm happy to hear that you found the tips useful enough to post on your printer.