4 Quick Tips for Editing Poetry

4 Quick Tips for Editing Poetry


Since poetry can feel less straightforward than other genres, you might be wondering how to go about the revision and editing process. It is, in fact, not so different from what you’re probably used to, with the main goal still being communicating with your readers:


1) Double check meanings and word choices.

Those words you’ve cleverly put together look wonderful. But, that one right there that you added to complete the rhythmic pattern, the one you’re not quite sure it means what you think it means? Better check it out. You can certainly play with words and their meanings, but you’ll wield the power of words more effectively when you’re aware of the different definitions and contexts they possess.


2) Read out loud to check the flow.

Remember, poetry is generally meant to be read aloud. You might find some alliteration that creates an unintentional tongue twister or a word that seems to fall flat compared to the language surrounding it. If you encounter issues when reading your work aloud, please know these things happen more often than you’d think, and you can make improvements.


3) Get reader feedback.

Though poetry, with its figurative language and other creative elements, can help readers get to meaning in a more roundabout way, you still want to make sure they’re able to get there with the images and mood you’ve created. So, ask a few people to read your poem and tell you what they honestly think. To help your first readers give focused feedback, you can ask specific questions about your poem and/or point out aspects you may be uncertain about. Or, have them look over the work as a whole and give general feedback. The choice is yours.


4) Keep it your own, but embrace change, too.

Your writing can feel like a part of you, which makes accepting a critique difficult. But, remember, no one is suggesting you change yourself when they suggest changing a part of your work. Besides, you want your writing to work for your readers, not just yourself. So, try to be open to change. It doesn’t mean you have to act on every single suggestion; you still get to decide. But, it does mean being open-minded enough that you don’t miss out on important opportunities to make your writing even better.