Erin's Poetry Tips

40 tips to poetry and poetry forums

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Proofreading and Editing

spelling, grammar, punctuation

I started to begin this tip with a lot of misspelled words, poor grammar and no punctuation, a sort of example of the mistakes I intended to discuss. I thought better of it and started over because you aren’t going to bother trying to read it if I do that are you? It would be much too much like work.

Make your words, ideas, and thoughts accessible, don’t bury them under an unnecessary burden of faults. I’ve mentioned accessibility in several of my other tips. It’s become a sort of buzz-word in poetry lately, which tends to weaken the meaning of the word, so let me spell it out.

If your reader cannot:
A.) decrypt your spelling
B.) find your true meaning in a madness of grammatical errors
C.) figure out which parts go together and which do not in the absence (or misuse of) punctuation

then they are too busy trying to decipher – and not busy enough with hearing what you’re saying. You make your message completely null and void – you waste your time, and that of the reader, and more likely than not, you ensure
that most readers won’t get past the first few errors before deciding to give up the effort. Write your poetry in a word processing program such as MSWord or Word Perfect, and run a spell check and grammar check on it before you put it out there for the world. Once you know you've done that, just copy and paste it into the text field on the forum board.

Let’s be honest, your poetry is your craft, and it should be crafted with care. If you have so little respect for your work that you can’t bother to do simple proofreading, and edit out the technical mistakes, then why should your potential readers respect it enough to dedicate their time to reading it? If you don’t show that you care about your work, readers won’t care about it either. Remember, the next, more polished, poem is just a click away.

(For those who don't know how to copy and paste, to copy the text, click on it and drag the mouse across it, until everything you want to copy is highlighted, then right click and choose "copy". Then click into the text field where you normally type the poem to post it. Right click inside the text field and right click and choose "paste".)