Thursday Thoughts: Revise, Redraft, Revise

17 Feb

8:56 am, Thursday – Atlanta

Good Day – I realized for some of my readers it is good evening rather than morning.

I am going to try and spread revision out, as there are not a lot of  pretty images that go with discussions of parts of speech, with which to break up the text.

Dig out the poem you wrote from the building, or body of water metaphors. Or, the freewrite, if you don’t have a poem yet. Or, your latest poem draft, if you haven’t yet had a chance to do the metaphor exercises.

Read through your choice. Every time you see an adjective, underline the adjective and the noun it describes. Every time you see an adverb, underline the adverb and the verb it qualifies.

What are adjectives and adverbs?



modify: to make less strong
qualify: to limit, restrict

Is that what you want to do to your nouns and verbs?

Hierarchy of parts of speech:

1.    Verbs
2.    Nouns
3.    Adjectives and adverbs

Before committing yourself to an adjective-noun combination, consider using a better noun by itself. Or, consider using a simile or metaphor. If you want to use an adjective, make sure it is specific. What images do the words magnificent, wonderful, great, fabulous, fantastic, beautiful, ugly put in your head? Specific images, or a jumble of possible things, or a blank? Do you want your readers to be unclear? You need to show the magnificence, the ugliness, the specific beauty. Your words are the reader’s eyes to the images you want them to see.

Wherever possible, replace an adverb-verb combination with a better verb. While there are places for adverbs, in the English language verbs are our richest words. Adverbs weaken verbs: She ran quickly. Well, how else would she run? Instead, how about loped, galloped, sprinted, cantered, raced. Now, if she is running slowly because she is looking for her dropped keys, then the qualifier has a job.

If you need the practice, over the weekend [or whenever you have the time]:

Write a one-page description of any thing, place, or person, in your usual style. Rewrite it, without modifiers [adjectives/adverbs]. Now go back and look at it. How are you going to give the reader a specific sense of the place? Mood? Ambiance? How are you going to craft a word picture of the person, so we read a portrait? How are you going to convey the object and its context? How can you use sensory imagery, strong verbs and nouns, similes, and metaphors to convey your truth.

Tomorrow is the Friday roundup, Tuesday we’ll move onto a new series of exercises, and next Thursday: nouns and verbs!


Posted by on 17/02/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 responses to “Thursday Thoughts: Revise, Redraft, Revise

  1. Susan May James

    18/02/2011 at 6:38 am

    Hey Margo!

    Glad to have met you via ‘Writing Our Way Home’. Though I’d pop over and have a peep at your site. Looks good, I’ll be back to have a go at some the exercises soon.


    • margo roby

      18/02/2011 at 7:52 am

      Hi Susan!
      Good to see you. Wander through any time. And you know where to find me :), so any questions, ask [I love having our own community at WOWH].


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