Choosing a Poetry Collection Organization Style

Last month after I finished organizing Inside a Writer’s Head, I shared what I learned from the experience. Before you pick an organization style, you should check that out. It has four things you should know about the overall process.

This post discusses some different styles or types or organization you could choose when creating your poetry collection.

One thing you should already know if you’re making a collection: The first and last poems, especially, need to be strong.

Topical

If your collection contains poems of a variety of topics, it could be useful, beneficial, or aesthetic to group them based on topic. You can then create defined or undefined sections in the collection as well.

A defined section would have a title, and an undefined section would not. Either way, you’ll want to open and close the section with a strong poem, just like opening and closing the collection.

In the case of Inside a Writer’s Head, I initally tried to have a topical organization based on the subcategories of themes. This didn’t work, in part because it’s a topical collection. This style works better with more than one topic.

Emotional

You can also organize the collection based on the emotion a poem creates in the reader. In the same way a novel shifts in emotions as it progresses and has ups and downs, you can an emotional “plot” with your poetry collection. To do this, first group your poems based on the emotions they evoke.

You can then weave the poems together based on similar lines, topics, etc. throughout the collection, keeping in mind the emotional journey you intend to take readers on. Plan the ups and downs and pick the poems that feel right in each place.

For Inside a Writer’s Head, I incorporated some of this. I placed some poems together to amplify humor, or emphasize certain feelings or reactions to the poems around it.

Lyrical

A possible organization, especially for a collection with a variety of topics, orders the poems so each poem repeats a theme, subject, word, or image from its predecessor. This could create a plot, or add to the emotional effect of the poems. By connecting them in this manner, you allow the poems to speak to each other, as it were, adding more insight or a divergent perspective on the ideas.

This can be an organization style on it’s own or be paired with a topical or emotional style.

Inside a Writer’s Head is largely lyrically organized, blended with some emotional influence, as I mentioned. That isn’t all I employed though. Which brings me to the next style.

Collage

A collage is a smattering of thoughts and images paired together in one place, seemingly or actually at random. They may or may not go together, but they create an effect based on how they are placed.

If you have a topical collection or a large disparity in the number of poems in different topical categories, a collage organization might work well. You can create a mix of the topics, not following a specific rotation of topics, but moving similar topics away from each other.

This is another thing I did for Inside a Writer’s Head. I had a lot of poems about not having inspiration or dealing with writer’s block. Far more than the number of those in the other subcategories I had created. In order to create more balance, I spread out those poems among the other poems. A couple of them are paired together, but they are a bit of a unifying theme in a collage.

 

These are four possible organization styles used in poetry manuscripts.

If you have any questions about these styles, Inside a Writer’s Head, or your poetry collection, leave them in the comments below! I’d love to talk to you about that.

Some Thoughts on NaNo

It’s November, and while I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo, I have in the past and I have friends who are doing it.

At a basic level, NaNo is a 30-day writing challenge, in a similar vein to the month-long personal development projects (PDPs) that are encouraged by Praxis. You spend a month focusing as much time and energy as possible on one goal, one endeavor. At the end, if you’ve spent time each day working toward the goal, you win.

If you don’t write 50k words in November, it doesn’t matter. That’s not the real purpose. If you do, congratulations.

You really win by forming a writing habit and spending focused time working towards a goal, in this case to write a novel, for 30 straight days.

You can make your own rules.

You can set a challenging but obtainable word count goal for yourself. Maybe 50k is too much but you can handle 15 or 20 or even 30k words. Don’t aim so high that you’ll be guaranteed to burn out.

You don’t have to write fiction. You could write poems, blog posts, a non-fiction book, a series of essays. Whatever genre or type of writing you want.

If you really want to, you could decide to do an entirely different month-long project. In fact, I’d encourage you to do some kind of month-long project, NaNo or otherwise.

I’m not doing NaNo, but I am doing a PDP. For the whole month of November, I will be marketing my poetry collection, posting on social media, interacting with people, and creating blog posts and videos about self-publishing.

That’s my project this month.

Tell me about yours in the comments below!

Art Style

My drawing style has changed a lot in the last few years. This is especially noticeable when I compare the first drawing in my current sketchbook to my most recent drawings of the main four in Mystical Warriors. That drawing is in my portfolio. This is the third distinctive style I’ve had over the years. It is still somewhat comparable to an “anime” style, but it is more realistic now than it was before. I hope I keep this style for a while, but who knows how long it will last? It will definitely change in the future, all with the developing abilities of an artist. It happens, it’s expected, it’s welcome, it’s evidence of progressing skill.

 

When I originally wrote the majority of the text for this post more than a year ago as a journal entry, I remarked:

I also received feedback from [two of my friends] about the transformation of my art style–[friend 1] likes my current style best! [Friend 2] said she thought I was really good at drawing people. [The girl I had just met days before] didn’t have much to say, but she’s quieter, and doesn’t know me well.

More recently I have not spent as much time drawing, but my style is still similar to then.

Brian and I.JPG

Current Projects (as of 7 July 2018)

I have quite the list of projects I am currently working on. Blog posts on these various topics will come as progress is made or using material already produced for or related to them. In no particular order:

 

  • Mystical Warriors, my novel in progress, started July 2015. I’m currently at about 30k words and still in the early part of the first half. I have the second half generally plotted and know a few things that happen in the near future.
  • This blog. I’m posting every day, with help from the scheduling feature on WordPress. I’m trying to have content ready in advance in case I need to take a break. If that becomes impossible, I will still post at least once a week.
  • Over the Invisible Wall. I’m working with my friend Justine to post to the blog Facebook page once a week and to the blog twice a month.
  • Millstadt News Magazine. I wrote for the July issue and I’m working on a piece for the August issue. I’m hoping to continue writing for the publication, but it depends if space is available.
  • A flag blanket. I’m crocheting a blanket made up of 36 flags from different countries. Right now I have about 12 finished.
  • Inside a Writer’s Head, my poetry collection. All of the poems are collected, they just need reorganized, formatted, edited, etc. before the collection can be published.
  • N’Zembe, the star system I’m building. This has a lot packed into it. I’m building a whole star system from scratch with ten inhabited planets and potentially some inhabited moons.
  • Various short stories.
  • Adventures in Meldrick, a card game. The game is good conceptually, but needs more beta testing to work out some of the problem areas in gameplay. I need to finish making the card database so I can keep track of what cards I have made, how many, etc. The plan is for it to have some trading aspects, but that would be an optional feature.
  • Illustrating Mystical Warriors. I only have one completed illustration and have yet to start the next. Some of the characters need reference drawings before I can do this.