Divide poem in half to dilute the contrivance. Add new content from a
emotionally-charged images and language. Focus on a few quiet details
at the larger story.
Suggest with details culled from the
periphery of the experience.
Retain the meaning, but reframe the
verse using a different slant or different images.
Drop generalities. Comment on the
Delete "I too" connectors. Have the
parallel activity happen in the same setting described
in the first
Recast the verse in an everyday,
unsentimental setting. Show the emotion, don't name it.
with a shadow image.
Depict a telling detail observed after
the action is over.
Delete mention of the cause of the
described effect. Try omitting explanatory connectors
Rephrase in everyday, natural
language. Reorder awkwardly placed phrases.
Read contemporary tanka to get a feel
for the natural expression typical of the form.
Shift the lines around; the last line
should have the most weight or punch.
Reframe the 3rd line with a new
phrase, pivot, or twist. Tell a story with a hook
at the first or second
Delete the modifiers and see if the
nouns can carry the meaning.
Write about your mother, but not
Position the strongest line as the 5th
Depict the after-effects of a strong
emotion or dramatic situation.
Reorder lines so a reference
immediately follows its subject.
Combine some lines grammatically.
Delete extraneous details. Focus on a
particular and significant detail.
Put yourself or some other person in
the poem. Add concrete images that show
your emotional state. Tell a
Relax any rules you may have about
tanka form. Let form emerge as you write.
Delete unnecessary, experimental, and
otherwise awkward word placements and line breaks.
Put aside strict adherence to a
syllabic count or line length concept.
Cut an extended metaphor. Delete
causes. Change subject or focus by the third line.
Use a detail the
reader would not expect
from outside the context of the preceding lines.
Use an authenticating, real life detail to make a scene or expressed
Delete connecting words to create
unexpected "leaps" or unusual juxtaposition of images.
Employ articles as you would normally,
but avoid repeating them within the five lines.
Aim for the pacing of
End a line on a strong verb or noun,
not on an article or conjunction, e.g. "and."
Put a concrete image in each line.
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