Writing Philosophy

Poetry: Playing Games of Thrones with your Darlings

Poetry, a mess that you create, then learn how to organize.

I help you make a damn mess. Then I’ll recommend what to throw in the dumpster, which darling doesn’t make the cut. Then I’ll help you make the mess into something better, a sculpture. You can revive or destroy or preserve your darlings at your own risk.

I’ll also recommend symbols.

On Prose, and my prescriptions

Does the prose read like a song? First question I ask myself after reading a peer’s rough draft.

I’ll remark on the diction, the pacing, the character development.

I hate being prescriptive, like the sort of, ummmmm, why should the character go in this direction. However, I do get prescriptive, because I know in the end, my critiques are not law, they’re a guideline, a strong recommendation, not the mandatory remedy.

It’s all in the author’s hands. I just whisper inspiration.

Also, I worship the deity that is the Oxford Comma. Having been employed in an office that reviles the Oxford Comma in its AP format, I will defend the Oxford Comma like its my baby.

I have a compulsion to line-edit.

As a flash writer, I am a fan of sparsity. Whether I read a bad novel or even a classic Margaret Atwood book, sometimes I have the tingling in my fingers to line-edit words out, because I go, “The reader gets it, and this does not serve much.”  As a Raymond Carver reader, brevity is my superpower.

I’ll explain my edits, but of course, you choose what you keep.

What I frequently preach about:

  • Summary versus Show (Show vs Tell rule)
  • Grain of Sand–The self-contain nature of short story writing
  • Enhance sensory details (ex: taste, touch, smell, hear, see) to externalize conflict
  • Chronic Tension versus New Tension
  • Opportunity for character development
  • Thematic structure–Is this an appropriate direction for the story to go?
  • Using your hints and set-ups to find your ending (foreshadowing)
  • Power dynamics between characters
  • Freewriting
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