April 12, 2016

Monday, April 30, 2012

30 Habits of Highly Effective Poets #30: Amy Ludwig Vanderwater on Revision

Today is the final day of National Poetry Month 2012. It's been a whirlwind. All this month, we have looked at writing habits of poets.

Children's poet and educator Amy Ludwig Vanderwater (of The Poem Farm) gets the last word. Appropriately, Amy's post is about the joys of revising drafts. She is also sharing a poem from one of her poem-a-day marathons.

Here is Amy:

A long time ago, I thought I loved writing.  But really, I loved the idea of writing more than I loved the work of writing.  I loved carrying a notebook, and I loved looking at my infrequent entries in that notebook.  I did not love revision.

Now, revision is my best friend, and I love her.  Revision means I have something to work with, words to tune, meters to tap, magic to find.  Today, each poem I send out or share goes through these few revision checks:

1.     LITTLE WORD CHECK – Cross out extra little words, words like and or the. Often, eliminating these will help a poem breathe. (Thank you, LBH!)

2.     SYLLABLE CHECK – Count and number the syllables in each line. Decide if the poem is or should be written in a regular meter.  Tap the table with my fingertips.

3.     VERB CHECK – If any verbs feel like weak handshakes, substitute beefier relatives.

4.     CLICHÉ  & METAPHOR CHECK – If a phrase sounds too familiar, Google it to see if it’s a cliché, a well-known metaphor, or just too-good-to-be-original.

5.     ALLITERATION CHECK – Change words where possible to give the poem more of a repetitive sound.

6.     ENDING CHECK – Reread the ending, and decide if it will leave a reader hungry or confused.  If so, write a few different endings and pick one of those instead.

7.     OTHER PERSON CHECK – Ask someone (preferably a child) to read the poem aloud without commenting.  Rework any lines which trip up this reader.

8.     MAGIC CHECK – If the technical qualities are strong, reread the poem looking for a flash of enchantment.  If there’s a hint of magic, grin.  If not, decide whether it will be allowed to go out into the world or if it needs to age a wee bit more!

You can ready Amy's accompanying post here.

Amy's National Poetry Month blog project was a dictionary hike, covering the 26 letters of the alphabet. If you visit Amy's blog today, all of the dictionary hike poems will be up.

And here is the recap of the poets and topics we covered in the "30 Habits of Highly Effective Poets" series.

April 26: On Fun
April 30: Amy Ludwig Vanderwater on Revision

Beginning tomorrow, I'll be posting poems from my two recent elementary school residencies. Look for some great third grade Fibs.


Charles Waters said...

What perfect, concrete advice on the craft of writing. I sparked to how Amy wrote she use to be in love with the idea of writing and not the work of writing. Kids need to know this, the effort involved. Once they get on their way with consistent scribbling the better it is for them. Vanderwater is a natural born teacher. Thank you so much Amy and Laura!

Mary Lee said...

What a great series. I'll be back again and again. I think of this as my poetry PD, or poetry school, or me at the feet of the masters!! THANKS!!