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Introduction

This is intended to be a guide to both poetry and critiquing. It will provide a basic reference, advice and tips, and a section on how to read or give a critique.

In an effort to speak to the "poetry has no rules" myth, this guide will also discuss what happens when various rules are broken, to help the poet make a better and more informed choice about when to do so or when to refrain.
Table of Contents
Page 1

01. Introduction
...a. Table of Contents
...b. Public Service Announcement: poetry.com
02. Table of Contents, Public Service Announcements/Scam Alerts
03. General Poetic Tips
...a. Read poetry; analyze your reaction.
...b. Advice for titles!
...c. Write to your audience.
...d. Consistency is key.
...e. Never explain a poem.
...f. Poetry vs. Prose
...g. Mechanics: spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization
04. Grammar
05. Capitalization and Punctuation
06. Spelling
07. Imagery
08. Symbolism, Metaphor, and Simile; Rhetorical Questions
09. Word Choice
10. Line Breaks/Enjambment/Spacing
11. Repetition
12. Cliché
13. Rhyme
14. Rhythm and Meter
15. Poetic Fat

Page 2

01. Critique Checklist
02. Writing a Critique
03. Reading a Critique
04. How to Get Critique
05. Responding to Critique
06. Sample Critique
07. Who am I to tell you how to write?


Public Service Announcements

Read the forum rules and stickies. If you don't, you may well find your post receives many replies -- all to tell you to read the rules or mentioning your thread has been reported. That doesn't have much to do with your writing itself until you consider this: many publishers and editors have specific submission guidelines. Your piece goes on the trash pile if it doesn't meet them. Looking up and following the basic rules for wherever you're submitting your work is worth the time and effort.

The well-known poetry.com is a scam. Your poem is indeed published (if you pay them) -- just like every single other person's who submits. Meanwhile they make money hand over fist selling copies at high prices and inviting the 'poets' to pricey 'conventions'. You pay, they win, and your poem goes in with literally thousands of others, never to be seen again; they don't even distribute it. There are far more reputable self-publishing and vanity presses out there. They're playing on your desire to be published as well, but making a much lower profit off it, and you get a lot more for your money.

Cute_Mini_Keet
I was recently almost the victim of a major scam involving my poetry. This is from a company known as the "Famous Poets Society" that also goes by different names.
These names are:
Hollywood's Famous Poets Society
Celestial Arts
F P S
Famous Poets Society
New Jersey Rainbow Poets
New York Poetry Alliance
Texas Poetry Alliance
Free Poetry Contest
International Library of Famous Poets
Quarterly Poetry Contest
Reno Fine Arts Institute
Florida Literary Guild

If you go to their website Famouspoets.com they have an entry form for poems.
After you enter your poem, they will usually email or snail mail you with ridiculous offers such as the following gems:
An anthology of poems with yours included for $50.00
An invatation to a convention where you will recieve an award for over $1000.00 eek
If your don't go to the convention you can get your awards for a shipping charge of a ******** $300!!!
And finally, you can get to be on their newest TV show! Which they neglect to mention the name of!

Convinced yet? Well here's some more stuff...
The "Poetry Editor" goes by the name of Lavender Aurora
The man behind all this, John Campbell, goes by many different names.
They talk of a man named DR. Kenneth Fan. If you try to look him up on the internet, he comes up as a freelance photographer, not a "distinguished Poet Laureate of the Republic of China."
Any poem, regardless of how stupid or bad (as long as it's under 21 lines) is eligible for an award.

I feel stupid for almost falling for this. I want my poetry out of their hands. And you know what really hurts? I believed this for a moment. The poem I gave was one of my most precious, because it described my innermost feelings after my first bird's death. I though someone appreciated it. Someone who was worth my time, not like this scum. So please, don't fall for it like I did.

Websites: http://www.badbusinessbureau.com/reports/0/004/ripoff0004506.htm
windpub.com/literary.scams/famous.htm
www.scam.com/showthread.php?t=1037
General Poetic Tips

Read Poetry

Read, read, read. Then read some more. Reading as much poetry as you possibly can will help you begin to notice the techniques used by the great poets. Try to look for why you like a poem that strikes your interest, and start incorporating those ideas and methods into your own work. If you read a poem that just isn't very good, note why you dislike it. Be overly observant and analytical about what's happening when you read the poem.

Do you skip or skim even though you meant to read it carefully? It's probably boring; we tend to do that when we're already familiar with what we're seeing. Now look for what's boring -- and don't do it.

Does it make you speed up, slow down, re-read something, roll your eyes, widen your eyes, smile, frown, want to cry, sit up straight, stop cold, hear a word more strongly than usual, trip over words, flow smoothly, seem to change something midway through... well, you get the idea. Do you blink in confusion -- and does trying to puzzle it out provide a reward and excitement when you find more meaning in the piece or does it only frustrate and annoy you? Notice your reactions. And then, again, think about why. If you can't answer why, think harder. It's OK not to come up with an answer, but an uncertain one is better than none when trying to analyze something, because you can modify it later instead of having nothing at all.

Writing is very much about cause and effect -- and getting the effect you want -- so it's very important to notice (and ideally be able to explain) what action produces what reaction. This is why mechanics are so important: they produce the effects. This is also very much case-by-case and subjective; bear in mind even something that puts you to sleep does have the effect you want if it's a lullaby.

Titles

Make sure your title is interesting; it's the first thing any reader sees and it's what makes them decide whether they want to read the poem or not. Don't just be descriptive; be interesting and quirky and off-beat. Get unusual.

Audience

Write to your audience. A poem with a lot of inside jokes or allusions about, for example, a movie isn't going to go over well with people who haven't seen the film. They'll sit there wondering why they wasted their time and what you're talking about. On the other hand, if you read your poem the next time you're at a gathering of people who already love the movie, you've got a hit as they immediately recognize everything you're saying. Just keep in mind who's most likely to read what you've written. If you're writing to people who won't already be familiar with the topic, make sure they can still grasp the overall message.

Consistency

Consistency is key. Many conventions in poetry can be experimented with. Rules can be bent and twisted and broken. But if there's not some sense, some consistency, some method to it, then it stops being experimentation and begins to look sloppy or unplanned and, by extension, poor. As a general rule, remember that any time you start to set up a pattern, the reader will expect it to continue. If it doesn't, make sure that's intentional and done for a specific reason.

Never Explain a Poem

Never explain a poem. Think about it: If you submit it to a publisher, editor, or literary magazine, you don't get the chance to explain it. It needs to stand on its own and be explained by the writing itself. If that metaphor truly isn't clear in the writing, you haven't said what you've intended. If that symbol honestly seems completely irrelevant to anyone but the writer, it still has that personal meaning but it doesn't communicate.

Poetry vs. Prose

If a piece has absolutely no poetic or literary devices -- no imagery, metaphor, symbolism, rhythm, rhyme, meter, etc. -- it's prose. That doesn't necessarily make it poor writing or less valid; it's simply not a poem. In particular, line-breaks do not a poem make. If you can rewrite your poem in paragraphs without changing anything at all in it meaning or significance, it's probably prose and should be revisited if it's meant to be poetry.

Mechanics: spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, etc

These are the hottest bone of contention in the "poetry has no rules" vs. "poetry has defined rules" debate. The simple truth is, a piece laden with errors or inconsistencies is likely to make a critic shrug and pass over it except to point you to a spell-checker or grammar class. If they have no interest in your message because of its mechanics, obviously they are important.

A professional proofreader or editor has piles of manuscripts to look over. The basics are a great way to cut out a vast number of them -- so again, you've lost out unless they're polished. Your poem might be the best ever written, but that isn't going to help you if it's already in the trash bin. There is room to bend and even break the rules, but doing so will always have a definite effect that will positively or negatively impact the poem. Keep that in mind and do so carefully and deliberately.
Grammar

Grammar has not gone out the window, not even in poetry. Especially not in poetry. It provides the background and tone of the piece.

Do and Don't

Never bend grammar strictly to fit a rhyme scheme or meter. This will only result in forced rhyme and awkward phrasing. Your meaning will probably still come through clearly, but even it might become obscured. Make sure your poem reads naturally for whatever tone and style you've adopted.

Special Topics

The vast majority of poetry today is written in fairly natural, conversational speech patterns, so this is probably your safest bet. Homages to older poems, poets, or styles might still suit an archaic style best, however.

Whichever you choose, be consistent and correct; far too often, an older tone is adopted for a line or two simply to fit the rhythm or rhyme, or older verb forms or syntax are used incorrectly. Your homage becomes mockery -- and probably mocked. Look it up first.

Breaking the Rules

Strange syntax or word order choices can serve to make the reader slow down during that passage, thereby placing emphasis on it or causing them to reflect on its ideas more.
Capitalization and Punctuation

Capitalization and punctuation are the most basic of elements in a sentence; they tell us when it begins and ends.

Do and Don't

The vast majority of the time, standard punctuation and capitalization will work best. When you do experiment, keep in mind that most punctuation will control the flow or speed of the poem by slowing it down or pausing for a split second; use that to your advantage.

Ellipses (...) should be used sparingly at best. They do create that sense of 'trailing off', but it's not very dramatic and the abrupt pause of a period -- or in some cases the hiccup of a dash -- might work better.

Consistency is key once again; your capitalization and punctuation should be done according to the same rules throughout the piece, whatever those may be. In a piece with no punctuation except one comma, for example, that comma is going to stand out like a sore thumb -- and hopefully hitchhike to somewhere else with it. Even most professional proofreaders won't pick on you for your commas, however, as long as your usage is -- you guessed it -- consistent.

Special Topics

Punctuation means all punctuation, and we can play with it for several effects. I'm especially thinking of parentheses right now. They're excellent for setting up more layers of meaning. Parentheses make self-contained units within a phrase or even a word, and are used to set something apart from the rest. We block it off, and the reader reads the straightforward phrase and a 'hidden' second one inside.

Breaking the Rules

Removing punctuation will let the words and sentences blend into each other. This can also be great for creating double meanings or puns, but make sure it isn't at the expense of clarity.

Lack of capitalization will have the same effect, and might actually go very well in a piece already exploring the theme of freedom or boundaries.

Example

Poetess Laureate
She never leaned into its S
curve (except) with break(s)
-neck speed.


In the above, we have the plain "She never leaned into its S curve with break-neck speed" and "She never leaned into its S curve except with breaks" by the time we read with parentheses. The first tells us she doesn't take risks, the second tells us she'll stop short if she comes to something she finds dangerous -- similar but reinforcing messages.
Spelling

Do and Don't

No poem should have a spelling or typographical error that a spell-checker would catch. Such software is readily available as part of most word processing programs or online, which means failure to use them will simply seem lazy. Whether it's accurate or not, laziness isn't a good first impression.

Run everything through a spell-check first, and glance over it for any homophones (words which sound the same but are spelled differently) that the computer won't pick up on. Make sure to brush up on commonly confused words such as there/their/they're, its/it's, etc.

Write out words; this will simply look more polished and professional. Netspeak and chatspeak don't belong in poetry.

Breaking the Rules

Netspeak and chatspeak might conceivably be used to make a point: quotes from a chat session or use in a poem discussing the phenomena of chatspeak itself, for example.

Similarly, intentional misspelling might be used to emphasize a word, make a point about spelling, or shape a phrase into a double meaning. This is obviously tricky to do since the reader will first see a mistake and then (hopefully) the point made by it.

Poetess Laureate
Spelling Tips:

its = possessive; it owns something
it's = it is.
whose = possessive; who owns it
who's = who is
their = possessive; they own it
there = a place
they're = they are
are = form of the verb "to be"
our = possessive; we own it
to = going 'to' somewhere, or a gift given 'to' someone
too = excessive ("too much" wink or "also" (me, too)
two = the number 2
your = possessive; you own it
you're = contraction; 'you are'
yore = old-fashioned, 'days of yore'
Imagery

Imagery is where we connect with the message of the poem; it's where we share a moment or emotion with the poet.

Do and Don't

That means we need to be pulled in. Avoid abstract, subjective, and emotion words. We've all felt them, and most of the time we don't know the writer. We're not going to be naturally sympathetic. We need to see why the poet's happiness or pain or love relates to us.

We need to be shown, rather than told. Use concrete imagery; give us something we can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. We want something we can hold onto.

Avoid self-evident images. Grass is green? Yep, knew that. Death is sad? Yep, knew that. Make sure your readers aren't sitting there having that conversation with themselves -- give them something new and exciting. Make them sit up and think, "Wow, it is like that. I never thought of that before, but it is!" That's much more compelling.

Breaking the Rules

Abstractions can be useful if used sparingly, usually to focus sharply on that specific term because it stands out amid the rest of the concrete imagery.

Poetess Laureate
Brief Tips for Imagery:

Use smell and taste imagery; they tend to be underused which means it's more interesting and exciting when a reader comes across it.
Symbolism, Metaphor&Simile

These are where your meaning, emotion, and style show through predominantly. They help us make new connections to familiar concepts.

Symbolism brings an idea or emotion into clearer focus by relating it to something more tangible; it's a crucial part of your imagery.

Metaphors draw a comparison between two seemingly unrelated things. How are apples and oranges alike? A metaphor will show us.

Simile can be thought of as metaphor using the words "like" or "as" to make the connection. As such, it's less direct and in some senses weaker since it takes a step back.

Do and Don't

Avoid self-evident comparisons just like self-evident images, for example equating grass to plants. Of course they're the same. We don't need the poet to tell us.

Ideally, these techniques will grab the reader by confusing them momentarily but making them want to understand -- and then satisfy them by resolving the seeming paradox. If the two things being compared seem completely unalike, or set up a seemingly impossible paradox, but the writer doesn't show how they're connected, the reader is left unsatisfied. If the piece goes on to develop and explain the connection between the two, the reader becomes and stays interested.


Rhetorical Questions

These are the questions we ask without really expecting an answer. "Do you understand me?" and the like.

Do and Don't

In a poem, rhetorical questions fall flat because they're not answered. They just hang. The intended effect is probably usually to make the reader think, but the poet isn't accepting enough responsibility here.

To effectively use a rhetorical question, we need it answered -- or at least resolved or developed. Instead of simply, "Do you understand me?", we also need to show why this is being questioned and whether the person does or not. "Would you do it again?" Well, the poet should know or decide their own opinion: would 'you' or not? It's going to be more interesting to the reader to see how the poet would answer these.
Word Choice

Stun us with your command of vocabulary and language.

Do and Don't

Avoid abstractions, emotion words in particular. Give us something we can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Emotion words are simply too general; we've all felt them and we need to be told something new about them, or at least made to feel as though we relate to the writer -- whom we probably don't know personally. Ideally, we should be able to tell what emotion or quality is being discussed without ever seeing the word itself.

Melodramatic words such as death-related or depression-related emotion words have double the trouble that most abstractions do. They're not only vague, they're overused. As a rule, assume everyone has 'felt your pain'; everyone has suffered. So you need to give them something new and innovative to describe or express it.

Consistency is key as always. Describe ideas or concepts with language that relates to the overall theme. In a poem about Arachne being changed into a spider, for example, weaving terminology might work very well somewhere.

Don't assault or abuse the thesaurus. If you're using it to look for ideas during poetic block, that's one thing. Make sure the word you end up finding is one you use regularly so that you know how to use it. Thesaurus misuse always stands out. This is especially key to natural rhythm and rhyme as well.

Special Topics

Active verb tenses (John kicked the ball) tell us whodunit (John). Passive (The ball was kicked) do not. As a rule, it's best to keep active. This keeps things more interesting.

Likewise, we're going to be bored by verbs such as "see" or forms of "to be"; they aren't "doing" anything. We don't sit up and take notice.

When setting up contrast or a paradox, we use two opposites or unalike terms. This means we need to resolve it by clearly developing how they're related after all. Otherwise the line or phrase comes off contradictory and confusing instead of insightful.

Think of expletives (curse or 'swear' words) as a really hot chili sauce. We definitely sit up and notice when they're used, but it's easy to use too much. O.K., kill the analogy because the real problem is that while one or two uses will surprise and shock us and possibly make us gasp, using an expletive for every second word, won't. You want to make sure it will be effective, so use it sparingly.

Breaking the Rules

A single abstract term amid really solid concrete or tangible imagery will serve to bring a great deal of attention to that term. This can be effective when used carefully and sparingly.

Passive verb tenses can keep a sense of mystery, especially if they do tell us 'whodunit' later on (The ball was kicked by John). Non-action verbs might be appropriate in a piece focusing on a very gentle or lazy theme.
Line Breaks/Enjambment/Spacing

Where your line breaks fall will serve to help control the flow and pace of the piece as well as emphasize certain words or phrases.

Do and Don't

The reader will naturally pause just a fraction of an instant between each line. Line breaks should fall at natural pauses letting us read these as phrases rather than fragments.

Too-short lines will read as choppy or disconnected, while ones that stretch on too long will seem unwieldy and leave the reader gasping for breath, so to speak (and be visually distracting).

Be careful of playing too many tricks with spacing, or indenting, your lines. This is probably most effective to set ideas apart from each other or show continuity from one stanza to another. It should be used sparingly, however.

Centering is usually a poor formatting choice for a poem. Since spacing and indentations can be used to add layers of meaning and significance, we lose out on an entire potential dimension to the poem when we simply center it in its entirety.

Special Topics

Enjambment is a great way to work in double meanings; part of a phrase on a new line will be read as a phrase in and of itself as well.

A word left on its own on a line will be under a spotlight; make sure it can handle the heat.

Breaking the Rules

Experimenting with line-breaks can be a great way to add layers of meaning to a poem, playing with double meanings or puns or emphasizing something in particular.

Poetess Laureate
Tips for Enjambment

End lines with action-oriented or highly significant words.

Read your piece out loud; make sure it comes naturally and doesn't make you trip over your tongue.


Example

Poetess Laureate
She hung her ? upside-
down and out
to dry on a DNR nailed to her
lips.


In the above excerpt, the unusual line-breaks at "upside-" allows for 'down and out' to be read on its own in the second line.
Repetition

Repetition serves to place emphasis on whatever it highlights. Think of it as a spotlight.

Do and Don't

Life in the spotlight gets tiring. Anything repeated should be something very strong that can handle the attention -- a crucial word or image. Avoid abstractions, emotion words, pronouns, and other weak terms or phrases.

When using repetition, each occurrence of the repeated phrase should ideally have an at least slightly new meaning, significance, or twist. This keeps us interested in it and reading to find out what you'll do next.

Poetess Laureate
Tips for Repetition:

New meaning can be added by punctuation that allows for dual or multiple meanings, or a change in context changing the meaning of the word or phrase.


Example

Poetess Laureate
He said, "there, there"
so she'd let him make her cry
"There! There!"


In the above, the repetition of 'there, there' suggests sympathy in the first, and a cry of passion in the second.
Cliché

Just Google it. If you find (or know you'll find) an overabundance of hits, you've got something overused, trite, or cliché.

Do and Don't

Avoid them. They're used and abused, particularly most relating to depression, cutting, and other similar imagery or emotions. Everything has been bled (ha, ha) out of them.

If you do use clichés, make sure to get them right if they're actually common sayings -- we know what to expect and a deviation is going to sound awkward unless it's an intentional twist.

Breaking the Rules

Cliché does have one advantage: it's immediately recognizable and the reader relates to it. That's why they're said and used so often. Capitalize on this instead of letting it weaken the piece: give it a new twist or significance that makes us think and makes it yours as well.

Poetess Laureate
Tips for Cliché:

* Reverse it! Instead of, "A penny for your thoughts," perhaps, "A thought for your penny." We immediately recognize the expression it's taken from, but we have to stop and think about what you mean now. (In this case, probably someone being a bit mercenary, or teasing someone who used the original saying.)

* Allude to it instead of using it. Use it only indirectly, and make a new image based off the saying instead of incorporating the saying into your poem.


Example

Poetess Laureate
He'll lend an ear,
but he wants it back with interest;


In the above, we immediately spot the use of "lend an ear", but we see that this 'he' is a bit of a jerk because he only does so reluctantly and expecting even more in return ('with interest').
Rhyme

Rhyme helps to control the flow or speed the poem is read at. In a piece using a rigid rhyme scheme, the eye naturally looks for the next rhyme once a pattern has been set. In a piece where rhyme exists in only one or two places, it stands out as important or significant.

Do and Don't

Avoid rhyme on weak words (abstract concepts or words that have no meaning but simply move the piece along, such as most pronouns). Since rhyme emphasizes whatever you use it on, you need it to be something important and powerful.

Never divorce rhyme from reason. Any time a word or phrase is chosen simply because it will rhyme, without at least one other definite poetic reason for including it, it is forced. Don't. It almost always shows through, and negatively. Your words should be powerful and fitting for your message, and your grammar should be consistent and correct for the tone and style, throughout your piece.

Forced rhyme often shows through by twisted syntax or word order, sudden changes between modern and old-fashioned terms or verb forms, or phrases that make little or no grammatical sense on their own.

It's difficult to fix forced rhyme; it requires another rhyming word or a deep rewrite and complete change if a suitable rhyme cannot be found. Fixing one may lead to rewriting an entire stanza or even poem. But it needs to be done.

Once you have a few consistent rhymes, people are going to look for the next one. We've already said that. This means a rhyme scheme needs to be present throughout the piece, or not at all. Halfway measures will only hurt the poem, making it seem -- whether correctly or no -- that the poet simply got bored with the rhyme or couldn't maintain it effectively.

Special Topics

Words that don't rhyme in sound but have nearly the same spelling ("some" and "chrome" for example) are eye rhyme -- they 'rhyme' visually -- and can be effective in written poetry. It won't work quite as well when spoken, however.

Breaking the Rules

Typically "weak" rhyme can sometimes be justified to make a point. For example, rhyming a pronoun may be useful if a distinction needs to be made, or emphasis or stress needs to be placed on the person. Rhyming "me" might be a good idea if we need to get across the idea of "me, not someone else, me" or something similar.

Poetess Laureate
Tips For Rhyme:

* Use internal rhyme (found inside lines rather than at the ends); it's rarely done and therefore tends to draw interest.

* Experiment with unusual patterns when using a set rhyme scheme; it will be more interesting than the ones commonly used.
Rhythm and Meter

Rhythm and meter are the beat behind the poem, based on its accented or unaccented (stressed or unstressed) syllables. Not all poems have (or need to have) meter, or a pattern of these beats. All poems do have rhythm.

Do and Don't

Your word choices should flow naturally; they shouldn't be awkward for the sake of fitting the right number of syllables or an accent/stress in the right place. Be careful of that because it will almost always show through, and negatively.

Forced rhythms usually show by inappropriate word choice (choices that don't seem to fit the rest of the piece), or grammar (especially word order) bent to no effect and inconsistently.

Make sure your rhythm is appropriate. A piece about death and destruction, or a shocking crime, probably isn't very well served by the even, steady, peaceful rhythm we use in a lullaby or nursery rhyme. A piece about a lazy summer afternoon probably doesn't want to jolt and jar its readers. Think of your rhythm like your percussion section, and make sure the beat fits the message.

Special Topics

Iambic Pentameter is an often misunderstood phrase. "Pentameter" refers to the number of strong beats each line will have, in this case 'penta' or five. (Any number could be substituted.)

Iambic actually refers to the pattern: An iamb is a 'foot' of poetic meter consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.

Notice that this means the last syllable on each line will be stressed in actual iambic pentameter.

Counting rhythm can be difficult, but it actually follows our natural speech patterns to a large extent. All it really means is which syllables are stressed or unstressed -- lighter or stronger beats, so to speak. These are often marked with u for unstressed and ' for stressed or strong.

Example

Poetess Laureate
Counting Rhythm:

you danced too lively for the duller dirge
u'u'u'u'u'

The above is an example of iambic pentameter. Bear in mind even if it's not smooth like that one, or even necessarily poetic, every word or phrase has rhythm

He went to the store and bought a whole bunch of stuff.
u'uu'u'u''u


Poetess Laureate
Common Meters in English Poetry

* hexameter: six
* pentameter: five
* tetrameter: four
* trimeter: three

Others definitely can be used, but are far less common in formal poetry; a line with more tends to become unwieldy and is rare, and lines with less are typically found more often in free verse.

Definitely avoid any word that is redundant, or description already contained in the term itself. For example, we already know the sky is blue. "The blue sky" used in a poem isn't going to add anything meaningful for us unless it's developed further to give us a reason for its use.

Breaking the Rules

Modifiers sometimes work excellently to highlight a specific point or develop a piece of imagery or a metaphor.
Poetic Fat

Poetic 'fat' usually refers to anything that doesn't absolutely need to be in the poem.

Do and Don't

This includes overly wordy phrases, often used to fit rhyme or rhythm patterns. If it can be said better or quicker, it usually should be.

Any word you can't clearly explain the need for probably isn't needed and should be removed. This includes anything chosen only as placeholders to keep a rhythm or meter.

It also means that most modifiers should be removed. Try to keep mostly to concrete nouns we can see, taste, touch, smell, or hear -- and action oriented verbs.

Definitely avoid any word that is redundant, or description already contained in the term itself. For example, we already know the sky is blue. "The blue sky" used in a poem isn't going to add anything meaningful for us unless it's developed further to give us a reason for its use.

Breaking the Rules

Modifiers sometimes work excellently to highlight a specific point or develop a piece of imagery or a metaphor.

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