Tuesday, November 18, 2008


How Do You Keep the Reader's Attention?

There will be many techniques for achieving this, discussed in the future. One way to make a blog, or a news article, or a poem more readable is to break it up into sections, each one of which truly deals with one idea, but is still related to the whole.

The goal is to get the reader's attention and then keep their interest, so s/he will stay with it to the end.

If possible, try to grab the attention of the reader with a beginning line or a phrase that raises a question for the reader... "Why did she say that?" or "I want to find out what happens to him," or "That phrasing was so dramatic, I want to discover more." Lead the reader from one line to the next.

Clarity of meaning is critical. You don't want the readers to be so distracted by obscure meanings, that they give up, or forget your train of thought. With a sequence of actions, make sure they are in the logical sequence as they would occur in time. This does not require a concrete prose-like account. In poetry, the intuitive use of words often enriches experience. Words used should enhance understanding, not impede it.

If writing a longer piece, try to keep the structure simple in the whole, and within each segment, with a beginning, middle and an end.

Few poems are perfect and finished as soon as they are set down. For some people, their best work occurs during self-editing. It is not unusual for some poems to go through fifteen or more revisions.

All of these steps are designed to serve a a guide for the process of editing your own work. Most importantly, never throw a start into the circular file because you judge it to be imperfect. The process of writing is the process required for you to express your idea in the most eloquent way possible.

Exercise: Find a poem you wrote in the past which is very long. Try to look at it in terms of logical sequence of actions or ideas. Re order the poem. See if you can break it up into sections, verses or separate poems, and put open lines between them. If you are past this stage of self- editing, you will know it.

Writing Exercises A-2

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