Posts Tagged ‘analysis’

I finally finished my reading on setting at the poetry stage, and this week’s book is Penguin’s Poems for Life, selected by Laura Barber.

What I wanted to pick up was how feeling and setting interact but what I got was a little wider than that.

What I took was that description is an art.  In much the same way I am studying the importance of the right word, the power of poetry is linked to picking the right language.

For example, Seamus Heaney’s The Railway Children describes ‘shiny pouches of raindrops’ a phrase that describes their appearance, reminds the reader of the industrial nature of trains, gives a sense of something hidden within them (in this case, words) and makes them tiny gifts.  All these ideas are part of the setting of the poem: on the railway cutting.

Another example which caught my eye was Walt Whitman’s poem A Noiseless Patient Spider.  The sense that the web of a small spider could be a metaphor for life, a soul, creation was rather beautiful and unexpected.

This is a good reminder really – you can be both literal and figurative in poetry but sometimes you also need to be bold: follow a thought through its twists and turns and see if the journey is worth recording!

I had a fair number of poems I could share, different examples of poetry I love, but poetry is a particularly personal medium and my passion won’t necessarily match yours.

The best and most important point though is that truly effective writing, in whatever form, is a connection between the writer and the reader. The more you are able to bring them into your world, the more trust they will place in you and the more likely they are to lose themselves in your work.

I forget to think about poetry when concentrating on prose writing but that is very short-sighted because it means I miss opportunities to improve my work.

As a result of this reading exercise I have decided to make sure I read  at least one poem a week, analytically, to understand it and see what lessons I can learn for my own work.

Happy reading,



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Sometimes writing group turns into more of a reading group, where we talk about the relative pros and cons of certain styles of writing.

Today, it was the frustration of an unfulfilling ending, something I have mentioned a few times in my Challenge Tuesday posts (here and here, for example!).

As a reader, it’s one of my top peeves.  To invest time, energy and emotion into a book only for the ending to be missing, weird, make no sense or just generally not be what I want it to be, feels a little like a betrayal of trust.

However, as a writer I appreciate that a story has to reflect my viewpoint, and the ending has to be real for my characters.

But would someone else reading my book find that ending convincing?  Or would they want my characters to have entirely different futures from the ones I have offered them?  Would a reader want a different murderer in the whodunnit, a different outcome in the suspense, a different choice for my pregnant teenager?

As writers we decide on the story we choose to write: we have to hope any reader will accept the choices we have made along the way, and enjoy the journey to get to them.  As we edit, proofread and prepare our work for market we may consider these elements but we write the stories that come to us, and we can never make everyone happy.

Some of the best learning I get as a writer is to read work that I don’t enjoy.  That sounds odd, I know, but if I love a story I lose myself in it.  I don’t analyse what works because I am too busy being a reader to be a writer.  On the other hand, anything that doesn’t work, that takes me out of the story and challenges my reading zen, I can clearly identify.

I can check my own work for those elements and remove them.

So sometimes when I can’t get satisfaction as a reader, I can engage my writing brain and have a brilliant lesson from that point of view instead.  I can more objectively assess what elements are successful too, because the whole experience becomes more analytical. I can take that novel, and make it a textbook.

In other words, I can take lemons, and make lemonade. Every book-filled cloud really does have a silver lining!

Happy writing




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