A good exercise to prune and tighten some prose you may be writing is to engage in some conversion of prose to poetry and, similarly, from poetry to prose. Just take a chunk of each and arrange as if you were writing in the alternative genre. Don’t add words or delete words in the first instance. With prose, the golden rules of punctuation apply. With poetry, well, you know the poetry of e e cummings! This kind of play trains the brain to become more flexible, to consider alternatives in mid-flight. It opens up new linguistic habits. We tend to become as habituated in our uses of language as we do with which side of the bed we prefer to lie on. The next time you sit down to write, consider this kind of practice as a warm-up. You may be very surprised at what you discover. First, arrange the prose in poetic pattern, but retaining all the words used in the prose version. Then…play! See what happens when you make the transformation from poetic structure to prose with another piece of writing. I’ve provided an example below.
This kind of play > This play ─
trains the brain birds the brain ─
to become more flexible, to offers mid-flight alternatives.
consider alternatives in mid-flight.
This play ─ birds the brain ─ offers mid-flight alternatives (back to prose format). It breaks some conventions but it’s a tad less turgid, isn’t it?
Have fun! Check in next month. Cheers, Anna