Saturday, November 7, 2009

Process for a Draft

I vowed to draft a new poem today. After a few weeks away from drafting, I thought it best to start with an exercise. I used the mad-lib/skeleton poem exercise. I've seen this in books and in blogs, so I'm not sure to whom it should be attributed. Also, I've used this in the past with great success. For me, the secret is not to get too bound to the rules. At its most basic, this exercise requires a text, which could be a poem or story, but is often better when not. (I used the instructions that came with my new dental appliance, a phrase that seems slightly dirty for some reason, which is supposed to stop me from clenching my teeth in my sleep.) Taking the text, you remove all the major nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. and then you fill them in with your own words. Sometimes I use another poet's work to launch the fill-ins. Then, you break the new text into lines. I play fast and loose with the original text and will drop or add a part of speech if the inspiration calls for it. Once I break the text into lines it's no holds barred and the poem usually revises itself fairly far away from the original syntax.

My new draft is titled "All the Mapmakers in the New World were once Illusionists."

I'm a little bit high from the rush of creating. Also, the sun is spilling onto my desk in an amazing show of force. Also, it's Saturday! Wheeeeeeeeeee!


Karen J. Weyant said...

I like this exercise -- I think I will try this out with my creative writing students this week!

Sandy Longhorn said...

I hope it works well for you and the student, Karen.