Invites: Some Possibilities for Revision

POETRY REVISION PROMPTS

Wholly re-see (i.e., revise: [Origin: 1560–70; revīsere to look back at, revisit, freq. of revidére to see again;]) something that you’ve written during this semester using one (or all) of the following strategies:

  • Add 50 lines to the end of the poem. Seriously. 50. Just keep going. Don’t worry about going on a tangent. If you’re doing it “right,” you’ll end up in a completely new place. Do you have a new poem? Two new poems? The first or last line for seven new poems?
  • If it’s 25 lines or less, double it.
  • If it’s 25 lines or more, cut it in half.
  • Add two extra syllables to each line. You can add lines but you can’t subtract them.
  • Make the first line the last line of a new poem OR…
  • Make the last line the first line of a new poem.
  • Make it a sonnet.
  • Make it a ghazal.
  • Make it a sestina.
  • Make it a prose poem. Eliminate at least 25% of the words.
  • Make each line the same number of syllables. You can add lines but you can’t subtract them.
  • Cut 3 syllables from each line. You can cut lines but not add them.
  • Take out all the adjectives and adverbs. Count them. Add at least half that many new verbs and nouns to the poem — without adding any new adjectives or adverbs. Articles, prepositions, etc, are okay, but don’t go crazy with extra language. Keep it to mostly new nouns and verbs.

FICTION REVISION PROMPTS

Wholly re-see (i.e., revise: [Origin: 1560–70; revīsere to look back at, revisit, freq. of revidére to see again;]) something that you’ve written during this semester using one (or all) of the following strategies:

  • Flesh out one of the vignettes or scenes you’ve written this semester. Turn it into a full-length short story.
  • Start with a climax you already have and write a new story. For instance, if you were Flannery O’Connor and you wanted to apply this strategy to “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” you would start your new story with the grandmother meeting her demise at the hands of the Misfit. In that case, the whole focus of the story would probably have to shift to the Misfit and his crew. (Of course, the mark of a great climax — like O’Connor’s in “A Good Man” — is that it feels so final. The idea of “what happens next?” is a moot point. The trick here will be to find a climax that feels a little squishy to you.)
  • Change the point of view — from first person to third person or vice versa. Or if you’re feeling crazy, change the POV to second person.
  • Condense the action so it all takes place in the space of a day. Or less. Don’t be afraid to cut characters and settings. In fact, that’s a whole strategy all to itself:
  • Cut one important character from your story.
  • Change the setting of the story to Birmingham, Alabama, in the present day. Which is to say: expressly and conspicuously put the story in a place and time you know like the back of your hand.
  • Count the words. Divide by two. Cut the number of words in the story by that number. (E.g., 2,500 words divided by 2 = 1,250 words.)
  • Count the words. Multiply by two. Add that number of words to the story.
  • Tack 500 new words onto the very end of the story. What happens? Do you have to keep going? Do you have to cut something? Do what you have to do.
  • Write the story again, this time from the perspective of a minor character.
  • Eliminate all adverbs and adjectives. By “all,” I mean ALL. Replace abstractions with concrete nouns and verbs. Things and actions. Try to eliminate any instance of any form of the verb to be. Use third person, past tense. No sentences longer than fifteen words long. No punctuation other than periods and commas. (You can use up to two question marks, but only in dialogue.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s