THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS
1. SHOW DON’T TELL
Use images not adjectives, write as if it were a film, avoid adjective overload. Don’t use a list of more than three adjectives in a row: “The rule of three”.
2. AVOID THE DREAD CHOPPED PROSE & RHYMED COUPLETS.
Write in complete sentences, then punctuate, so that they flow smoothly. Avoid Dr Seuss & Hallmark card “sing-song” childish end rhymes.
3. WEAK VERBS
Use present tense, action verbs NOT verbs of being — like is, are, am. Avoid verbal’s – ing words (gerund & participles). Avoid the passive.
Compose with mostly concrete, not abstract nouns, employ “love, truth & The American Way” sparingly.
Break lines at the end of sentences, clauses or phrases. Content & personal preference should dictate line length. Format in long & then short lines. also consider whether prose (paragraphs) or poetry (lines) is the best fit. Print all options & then decide on formatting.
6. AVOID HYPER-ERUDITION
Get over your formal, your educated, your OCD, your polysyllabic, Latinate-based, thesaurus driven-self. Don’t (always) be a smart ass. Get your Anglo Saxon on & get down, get down. Vary your diction from informal to slang to formal. Write in a plain style & then proofread. Finally, pepper the poem with three or four word jewels if you haven’t already done so.
7. GIVE A DAMN ABOUT YOUR READER
Where are we in time & space? Who is speaking? Have the courtesy to inform & clarify; do not confuse. Don’t leave your reader clueless. Your job is to deliver not obfuscate. They don’t deserve to struggle in the dark because you can’t or won’t clarify what’s going on. Finally, ask yourself the “so what” or “who cares” questions.