Concise, Precise, and Tight

Concise, Precise, and Tight

A Lesson by Miss Coral

how to melt your work down to a concrete poem


So, danidear asked for a lesson on being concise. *sigh*

This is what I'm worst at. 

BUT. I do know what you're SUPPOSED to do, for the most part, anyways. Being concise is a matter of trimming the fat. The metaphor is thrown around quite a bit, but it really does give a good idea of what being concise is poetry is. The extra parts are fat. They might look like normal bits of poem at first, maybe some good imagery, much as fat makes things taste better, but in the end, the fat is NOT good. 

Taking out unnecessary words, which are sometimes pronouns or articles, can change the tone and style of your piece. It's a personal thing in your work, you obviously don't have to, but it's a big part of making your work shorter, more concise, and more precise. It is the difference between something like this: 

she broke like an egg over a stove, 
like white bone or green glass, all fragmented. 
she uses wire and painfully sews herself back together, 
a broken piece of dream to a broken piece of dream, 
and very slowly, she starts to make sense again. 

and this: 

she broke like an egg over a stone--
like bone; glass, fragmented. 
she uses wire, sews herself together, 
broken dream to broken dream, 
slowly starting to make sense again.

So, not huge difference, but they're there. Another thing, alongside articles and the like, are ADJECTIVES. People like to use adjectives, quite a bit, and believe me, I'm not against them, but too much of ANYTHING is a bad thing. Instead of using adjectives, try being more precise in general. Rather than saying "drunkenly walked" or "walked crooked" use "staggered". Saying what you mean and saying it precisely, in as little words as you can, is nice for the reader. Same thing with vocabulary, for a short point. Say what you mean, and how you like to, but phrase it in a way that isn't going to leave the reader scratching their head for five minutes before realizing they need a dictionary and that all in all, it's really not worth it. 

Two more things: watch words like "that". They really don't need to be there, and just add to a watery kind of feeling in your writing. And last thing: take out descriptions you don't need. I know it's painful, horribly painful sometimes, to cut out bits and pieces that you're fond of, but if they don't serve a purpose, then they have no place there. Maybe remove them from that particular piece and find a new home from them; create a new piece out of that snippet, and see how that works. But make it denser; don't allow your work to be watery and dribble down the mind of a reader. Keep it PRESENT, the ideas, the themes, the imagery. You can wander around, ramble, whatever, but keep it relevant and keep it tight. 

SO: in short. Watch your articles, your adjectives, your pronouns and "that"s and the descriptions you really don't need. Make everything work towards something else, a singular, unified piece. If you have any questions, feel free to message me. If you have any suggestions for another lesson, PLEASE tell me, and I'd be happy to write one up. :)

Thanks for reading! And thanks, Danidear. c:

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Posted 3 Years Ago

Very nice examples! It makes me think of the line from the film "The Dresser" where one of the actors spouts "Say what you want to say with brevity, and put the audience out of their misery". :))
Thanks for the course!
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Added on September 6, 2011
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Miss Coral
Miss Coral

Prague, Bohemia, Czech Republic

18 year old girl, third culture kid. I like writing and swing music. Probably not super active.