My Personal Rules for Poetry Editing

Since this is a new year, I decided to share my most recent set of rules for editing. I never worry about rules when I am writing a poem; I believe in letting the poem do its thing. But editing a poem is a different matter and requires a different set of skills. These rules come from what I have noticed what flaws there often are in my first drafts.

Angela’s Rules:

1) Watch out for tautology

2) Take care to avoid unknowing repetition

3) See whether you need ands, yets, buts and articles

4) Let the darkness in

5) Don’t be scared, say what you really mean

I devised this version of them after the recent Lumb Bank course with David Morley and Caroline Bird, a course which made me braver in my work. I do recommend their work, and also the work of Liz Berry, whose enchanting collection Black Country has won critical acclaim for its orginal use of dialect.

If you want to create your own set of reminders, look at the things you have to keep working on in your drafts. Hopefully your own guidelines will prevent you from doing the same things in future, when a new set of rules will need devising. I keep mine to a maximum of five, otherwise it all gets unweildy.

If you are stuck for ideas, I recommend Nell Nelson’s fantastic blog. You can see the link in my blogroll listing.





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5 responses to “My Personal Rules for Poetry Editing

  1. Excellent editing checklist there! And I really need to pay more attention to number 3… 🙂

  2. Reblogged this on Observations of Life seen through autistic eyes by Andy Smith and commented:
    Another great blog I have discovered recently by Angela Topping. Some very good tips on editing your poetry here.

  3. Interesting and useful, I am a sticker for number 5, people need to see the “real” you.. Very good article and informative too.