This page includes information and articles on writing Radio Plays, composing Poetry, and editing and writing Articles. Some tips on Self-Publishing are also planned.
The following articles can be found on this page:
Cronk, Evelyn – A Few Words about Editing
Playne, Martin – Some thoughts on the Editing Process
Dempster, Norah – The Structure of the Sonnet
Le Page, Stephen – Haiku Teaching
Le Page, Stephen – The Nature of Haiku
Threadgold, Cheryl – Writing Radio Plays
A FEW WORDS ABOUT EDITING
by Evelyn Cronk
Herewith a rundown of common terms for editing services as well as some other terms editors may use to describe them. These are arranged from heaviest editing to lightest editing.
Thank you to Kindlepreneur https://kindlepreneur.com/book-editors/#h-types-of-book-editing-services for the following information. There are also live links to follow for further details.
- Developmental editing (may also be called structural or content) – looks at the book’s big picture and overall structure in nonfiction or plot and characters in fiction. Developmental editors may assess a book idea, outline, or early draft to tell authors what works and what could be better. The big picture questions need to be answered first before an editor ensures your words are polished and used correctly.
- Line editing (may also be called substantive or stylistic) – goes through each line refining the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences and smooth-transitioning paragraphs. This helps the book “sound good” by polishing the language used to communicate your story. Learn more about line editors.
- Copyediting – corrects grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Copyediting also includes correcting commonly confused words (e.g., affect and effect) as well as checking for internal consistency of facts and consistency with capitalization, hyphenation, and numerals. Learn more about copy editors.
- Important note: Sometimes Copyediting and Line Editing are the same thing…just depends on that editor’s interpretation. In our list of book editors below, we combined them as “LE and CE” and just made it one.
- Proofreading – a final check before publication to find missed typos, missing words, repeated words, spacing and formatting consistency. Proofreading should be the very last level of editing. We have a comprehensive post on proofreading marks as well.
There’s also useful information on this website.
In the time I have been developing my own novel, the fiction publishing landscape seems to have changed considerably. Once, a writer could submit a manuscript which might be accepted by a publisher on the basis that an in-house editor would work with you to develop your manuscript to a polished stage for publication.
I feel there is more expectation now that the writer will undertake the processes outlined above on their own initiative before submitting via an agent or personally. I believe this is an economic decision but, it is a hard one for hopeful writers because they will need to a) find an editor and b) fund the process themselves.
For Victorian based writers a membership to Writers Victoria https://writersvictoria.org.au/ can be a worthwhile investment. If you’re not familiar with WV, the website is very informative. The manuscript assessment section under the support tab, is a good place to start on this journey.
It is important to work out a budget with your editor. If you are starting with a developmental/structure edit, will their fee cover the initial edit and then, when your revised draft is ready, another pass before you are able to take your manuscript to the next stage of copy or line edit? Or will there be a fee for each time the editor works on it? I have had to pay for each ‘pass’ with my editor.
Whatever level of editing you embark upon it is important to note that this process can take a lot of time. Good editors, because they are good, can be very booked up. You might have to wait months for them to start on your manuscript.
When your editor has an initial report for you, it might involve a meeting or remotely by emailing you notes. You will then need to spend time creating your next draft. When you feel you’re ready, it might take more months to get your editor’s attention. Try to discuss timing with your editor along with the budgeting conversation.
Yes, this process is time-consuming, potentially costly but, it is very worthwhile.
When you’re happy with your work, then it’s time to find an agent and hopefully, a publisher. But that’s another story.
©Evelyn Cronk, 2022
Published 16 May 2022
Some thoughts on the editing process
by Martin Playne
- always remember it’s the author’s work, not yours
- try to retain the author’s voice in any re-writing
- provide suggestions to the author
- do not be dictatorial
- only insist on a change when it is essential for spelling, grammatical or factual reasons, or to comply with the editorial style for the particular publication
- remind the author that a critique of a paragraph usually means that the paragraph can be improved in some way. They will find that the same passage will be queried by many readers
- beginnings and endings of an article or a book are particularly crucial for your publication to be a success. Spend time structuring them, thinking about them, and rewriting them
- titles are often chosen before the writing starts, but this is not such a good idea. Finalise your title when the work is completed. Keep titles brief, try to impart an air of mystery, intrigue or query. Titles are particularly important for books, if the book is going to sell
- illustrations are important to a publication. Remember to keep them at a high resolution (>300 dpi) for printing. Images taken from the internet are usually of too low a resolution to reproduce well in print. Avoid infringing copyright. Make sure you have permission to reproduce. Acknowledge the source of the image in the caption
- learn how to use ‘track changes’ in the Word program, as it considerably aids both the author and the editor
- remember to keep within the allowed normal maximum word count for an article (e.g., 2400 words for Ancestor, 7000 words for Qld History Journal)
- finally, it is the author’s writing reputation that is at stake when an article is published (not the editor’s)
© Martin J Playne, 2019
published 27 April 2022
The Structure of the Sonnet
by Norah Dempster
‘There are two main sonnet forms, and these are the Petrarchan, named after Petrarch who died in 1374, and the English sonnet or Shakespearean as it is commonly known, after William Shakespeare, the best known practitioner of this form.’
(Doris Corti, Writing Poetry, 1994. Writers News, Vol 9, Thomas and Lochar).
The structure of the Petrarchan or Italian sonnet:
A total of fourteen lines written in iambic pentameter (ten syllables).
Eight lines first (the octave)
then a break or space
followed by six lines (the sestet).
The 8- lined octave is two quatrains that follow a repeated rhyming pattern of abba and abba. These establish what the poem is about.
The sestet replies to this with two three-lined tercets with repeated rhyming patterns of
or three pairs of cd cd cd.
The structure of the English sonnet : (which developed from the Italian)
A total of fourteen lines also written in iambic pentameter.
followed by a couplet.
The English sonnet has a more variable rhyming scheme of abab cdcd efef gg.
The last two lines are usually indented and sum up, conclude, or emphasize the ideas, arguments, feelings and thoughts expressed in the first stanzas. Also, often used to present a moral.
Change at The Lake.
Red swings now, soft sand and a yellow slide a
in a plastic playground beside our lake. b
A small roundabout where children ride a
risk-free, safe, they barely skip when they take b
the path arranged on gentle grassy mounds, c
designed by experts, and mown to level height. d
A safety fence of proper size surrounds. c
Mothers call, ‘Careful! Share! Please be polite!’ d
When we were young our toughened feet were bare. e
We trampled wet tussock and golden broom f
to make our own dirt tracks from a secret lair. e
Then, when night fell with darkening gloom f
we raced home to tea across open moor, g
and pushed and elbowed at the kitchen door. g
Comment by me: When this was published in a poetry journal, Prospect Two, 2010 – 2011 by Blue Giraffe Press, Sandy Bay, Tasmania, it was not printed in sonnet form despite my hard work (and finger counting) to make it an example of an English sonnet. (not Petrarchan, after all, sorry Margaret)
No doubt they knew better than me how it might present best on the page. I wanted to share it in our discussion group because it was about ‘the lake’ my home on so many levels as someone suggested. Thanks all.
© Norah Dempster, 2020
published 27 April 2022
by Stephen G. Le Page
- Haiku are written and verbal representations of our degree of connectedness with our world –with our reality > with those spaces and instances of inter-connection, selflessness, and impermanence > which reflect a deep savouring of life at this moment, and largely from a Buddhist orientation;
- They are a skilful and economic way of approaching the ineffable > while also revealing the level of openness and connection of the poet to his or her experiential environment –the reality FELT then and there;
- Writing haiku is similar to practicing a Zen meditation and also to the insights derived from studying koans on a retreat;
- A haiku may spontaneously arise from a pure connected, non-dualistic mind, as we observe some vignette or an expression of nature and reality right now –at this moment a description of what IS for the poet > the degree to which the reader or listener appreciates the subtleties or grossness of the moment reflects their own level of awareness and connection;
- At the same time, like all poetry, the poet’s skill and choice of specific words enables that connection and the expansion of possible meanings for the audience;
- Haiku are observations and descriptions of the indescribable flower or colours of the earth > expression of the nature of existence right now to the maximum extent of simple uncontrived (almost instantaneous) articulation.
- The format of Haiku can be learned, but their essence cannot be imparted > it must be received –and will be to the differing extent that the audience is enlightened or ‘awake’, or tuned in. Each haiku is a purely individual expression of an inseparable experience emerging/occurring spontaneously to or from an individual > providing a unique “ take” on life > the degree to which others identify with, and accept/laud/repeat/admire, reflects the spontaneity of expression and the depth of connected understanding of the audience>plus of course, the skill of the poet.
© Stephen Le Page, 2019
published 27 April 2022
THE NATURE OF HAIKU
by Stephen Le Page
The Haiku form of poetry seeks to impart explosive simplicity of emotion—to convey the poet’s emotions with great directness and immediacy; to re-create for the audience the writer’s emotions at that very instant or event. In a way, it is analogous to Japanese martial arts where antagonists seek to expend and concentrate their physical and psychical forces at one point at one time –but in a minimalist fashion– and where they seek also to use their opponent’s own force to open the way for them. Thus they use a minimum of words to get to the heart of the experience – the poem is the experience.
Haiku are not for everyone –but in English they are easier when read than when said –the opposite of the case in Japanese. The poet tries to use the “opponent’s own force” –that is, the audience’s openness to experience, their readiness to interact and cooperate –and be receptive to the images created. The reader or listener must be willing to place him or herself in the poet’s special place.
Classical Japanese haiku
- 5-7-5 syllables ( 17 ). Japanese syllables ( called ji-on = literally, “character sound”) are not like English ones; rather they are units of duration. Each ends with a short vowel, or is a vowel ( except for an “N” sound), and has its own kana symbol ( character for writing). A long vowel has 2 units and 2 characters…..for example the word Nippon has a double consonant and is pronounced as ‘Ni-p-po-n’ ( 4 counts). The brevity of Haiku means that all unnecessary words are omitted and there is strong reliance on suggestion, with many sentences/phrases left unfinished.
- Refers to nature (not human nature especially), and contain “season-words” ( either direct season references; e.g. “winter”, or others referring to time of year which are by convention; e.g. the flowering of a particular type of flower, or the grave-visiting month Obon–August)
- Is specific and refers to a particular event; it does not generalize, nor is there to be “overt expressions or feeling or of argument; the poem was to be a sheer statement alone.” Nevertheless emotion is suggested not described.
- The event is now or in the very recent past ( it is current experience). Both of these ( 3,4) reflect Haiku’s primary task/role of conveying the feelings of the poet to something earth-shattering ( which in the Zen tradition, may be quite mundane and every-day) felt by the poet; the emotion is conveyed (not by stating or describing it), but via allusion from clear description of the circumstances which aroused or surrounded the feeling.
- The poetry has the quality of “growth” –the ability to convey more emotion than is first experienced on the first reading; repetition deepens the emotion or opens new interpretations, or is of such a deep or complicated nature that it progressively unfolds. The words of the haiku continue to reverberate with the reader/hearer, opening up an ever-wider view and appreciation of the emotion and stark consciousness of the poet. [Principle of Internal Comparison ( derived from Basho 1644-94… “the 1st pillar of haiku”) is that the poem ‘should’ provide a picture of a whole and with the various parts to be compared; although not always used it is relatively common. Basho was very influenced by Zen and under his tutelage Haiku evolved, with human nature being linked to Nature as a whole; it is evocative of “One-ness”, with nature equated with “One-Mind”.]
- There is no rhyme in Japanese haiku, as the language structure ( syllables ending in vowels or ‘n’ ) would be very monotonous and/or sing-song.
- Each master of classical Haiku ( from the time of Basho onwards) had his own intent and biases. But part of the process was to portray nature, and encourage human interaction with it.
Haiku in English
- These are different from both classical and modern Japanese haiku ( the latter is more flexible and with lesser emphasis on season-words) because of English’s language structure. We cannot always use:
- the same duration count (syllables) because of the concatenation of consonants which often are tacked on to English syllables.
- the conventional cutting words ( kireji ) of ya and kana which act as punctuation in Nihongo, do not exist in English. Ya is often like a colon; kana is often—but not always–like a row of dots
- We use the general form of three lines and 5-7-5 syllable count, but only as a general framework, and deviations are more numerous than the norm. There is a trend towards less syllables but only when the other original aims of haiku can be met and context protected. Nowadays, some haiku are written in a single line across the page or in two lines. Structure is much freer than in the past.
- Punctuation in English language haiku is minimal, with commas and rows of dots and dashes used very occasionally, usually between two images or to emphasize. Usually there is no title, and no full stop or exclamatory marks unless the context absolutely warrants, or the poet wishes to direct interpretation. Again, the format is free.
- We also employ the usual English devices of rhythm and stress, and occasionally rhyme, although some purists frown on the latter. There is certainly no fixed patterns of rhyme or rhythm. R. H. Blyth contended many years ago that “the ideal…. would perhaps be three short lines, the second a little longer than the other two; a two-three-two rhythm, but not regularly iambic or anapaestic; rhyme avoided, even if felicitous and accidental.”
- There is a feeling that rhyme tends to close off a poem and also may distract the reader from the essential emotion of the message. But many continue to use it unless it is obviously contrived.
- Most western haikuists (or haikuji) are ignorant of the use of season words and, if knowledgeable, see it as artificial and impractical and perhaps out of context in western idiom. As well, there are practical differences in the seasons, especially for those of us in the southern hemisphere.
- Artificiality is anathema in haiku. Some poets seek to suggest seasons by the whole tone of the poem rather than specific words. Nevertheless, some English language haikuji occasionally insert ‘kigo’ ( season) words where compatible with the essential message of the poem. Such words as autumn moon, falling leaves, leaves underfoot , golden foliage, clean and bright, clear and cold, long, hot days, chestnuts, home or open fires …and others of similar ilk, convey particular seasons unambiguously.
- Modern western haiku also deviate from the traditional rule that events be presented as now : verbs are often in the past tense, although the emotional content is for now.
- It should be noted that haiku are not simple descriptions of nature which others can grasp; to be haiku there needs to be a sort of twist or crack at the conclusion ( wherever it is in the poem) and it must have that quality of growth internally.
- Finally, while western haiku stem from western viewpoints and need not be Japanese in form and style or rules, they cannot drift too far from the traditional benchmarks and still be considered haiku.
- For beginners, the best type to start with is simple straightforward description of the circumstances which aroused the emotion to start with — to give just enough detail to allow the reader to put himself in the author’s position and experience the emotion directly.
- This purely objective type of haiku is sometime troublesome for adults because it seems too elementary, but practicing it is useful as a base for more subtle haiku forms. It teaches observation, the recognition of what is or is not important in any experience, the art of compression, and the momentary nature of particular experiences and intuition.
- The simplest form is that which deals with an observed relationship between two or three otherwise separate things; e.g. dolphins, boats and sky; mushrooms and a butterfly, oak trees and autumn and falling leaves. Or it may be between different aspects of the same thing. Objective haiku relating visual impressions are called “picture haiku”.
- The author needs to make the picture very clear, but omit his own interpretation — to the extent that inclusion of it cuts off subsequent or alternative interpretations by the reader. Ending a haiku with a statement about ( say) “ beauty” or “feeling happy” both channels the reader and also violates the prohibition in all objective haiku of overt expression of feeling. Having said that, for modern subjective haiku, then obviously the poet’s feelings, emotions, and judgments etc. are part and parcel of the poem.
- always carry a notebook for jottings on nature, human and non-human experiences, plants, things which interest you…
- Using real or imagined experience (either at the instant or via your notes) as raw material, apply all your powers of imagination, fantasy, intuition and logic, memory and lateral thinking to build an evocative short story which conveys the essence of what occurred.
- While you might develop your own techniques in time it is worthwhile to build on past experiences of other poets; simply borrow their techniques and remember that originality is relative; there are very few new ideas; instead there are old ideas adapted and adopted to new situations. Build on what has gone before you.
|Furuike ya Kawazu tobikomuMizu no oto||The old pond —A frog jumps in:The sound of water|
|Soko noke soko nokeo-uma ga toru||Out of the way, out of the way!The stallion’s coming through—Matsuo Basho|
8. Sketch technique :– each day –or whenever possible — compose a word sketch based on your notes…place the most prominent feature first, and then the striking features or subordinate elements which are strong enough to be included in the “picture”. This technique is similar to sketching a picture or scene and it has the advantage of “tiering” the images and ensuring you see the whole moment, and the surrounding perspective.
fragrance floats freely
red and purple blooms
dance on a sunny breeze
Nankeen night heron
a slivered mid-day shadow —
sudden… silent… gone
clouds hang on the line
‘tween sky and sea
9.Internal Comparisons : — where several images are both compared and contrasted or found similar. These comparisons are usually not direct through simile or metaphor, but rather hinted at via terms which have alternate meanings. Such a contrast or comparison allows the writer/reader to explore more than one open ended channels of thought whilst internally building a central emotional context. This meets the essential criteria for a haiku of “growth”.
tangled roots twist and turn–
how many winters?
Amidst silent gums
kids’ laughter, parents scolding
smudged by whistling wind
- Narrowing Focus technique : –involves setting up the larger scene early in the poem; bringing smaller elements in during the second line; and then focusing on the nitty-gritty in the climax. The subject elements need not be the same throughout and the progression from large to small is often only evident in hindsight.
sullen slimy slurps
of a wintery sea
at dark bluestone walls
two roses one old
each one perfection
to my inner eye
11. Creative thought technique :- here the writer provides images to lead the reader to imagine an outcome, or several outcomes. In this ‘method’ much is left unsaid and the connections have to be imagined, but the writer must also surmise the readers’ capacity to make the jump of intuition and understanding required –so that the haiku is not obtuse and fails.
gothic spires climb
a fractured white sky
pink and green intervene
squeals and laughter
mark another happy game
but Mom’s puffed
green slivers dancing
as puppets and players do
light winds thru bamboo
©Stephen Le Page, 2012/14
All haiku examples by Stephen Lee Page, except for Basho’s.
[Various sources ..’Haiku Handbook’ (WJ Higginson) , ‘Haiku in English’ (HG Henderson), Notes from Nicholas Virgilio, Masaoka Shiki, ‘Zen in English Literature and Oriental Classics ‘ (RH Blyth).]
HACKETT’S RULES AND SUGGESTIONS FOR HAIKU
- Life is the fount of the haiku experience. So take note of this present moment.
- Remember that haiku is a poetry of everyday life, and that the commonplace is its province.
- Contemplate natural objects closely….unseen wonders will reveal themselves.
- Identify ( interpenetrate) with your subject, whatever it may be: “That art Thou.”
- Reflect in solitude and quiet upon your notes of nature.
- Do not forsake the “Suchness” of things –nature should be reflected just as it is.
- Express your experience in syntax natural to English. Don’t write everything in the Japanese 5-7-5 form since in English this often causes padding and contrivance.
- Try to write in three lines of approximately 17 syllables.
- Use only common language.
- Suggest, but make sure you give the reader enough, as the haiku that confuses, fails.
- Mention seasons when possible, as this adds dimensions. Remember that season can be implied by the poem’s subjects and modifiers.
- Never use obscure allusions: haiku are intuitive, not intellectual.
- Don’t overlook humour, but avoid mere wit.
- Rhyme and other poetic devices should never be so obvious that they detract from the content.
- LifeFULness, not beauty, is the real quality of haiku.
- Never sacrifice the clarity of your intuition to artifice: word choice should be governed by meaning.
- Read each verse aloud, for unseen contrivance is usually heard.
- Bear in mind Thoreau’s advice to “simplify! simplify! simplify!”
- Stay with each verse until it renders exactly what you wish to convey.
- Remember R H Blyth’s admonition that haiku is a finger pointing at the moon, and if the hand is bejewelled, we no longer see that to which it points.
From “Haiku Poetry” –J W Hackett 1964 (emphases and some edits are the author’s)
published 27 April 2022
WRITING RADIO PLAYS
by Cheryl Threadgold
A radio play takes place in the minds of audiences, without any vision, therefore the story has to be told effectively by sound alone.
Some of us may remember growing up with radio entertainment before television arrived in Australia in 1956. I recall vivid images in my mind of the radio plays’ characters and settings, and being emotionally absorbed in the stories. It could never be known of course whether my interpretation agreed with the playwright’s vision for the narrative, but believability and engagement with the radio play surely indicates a successfully written and produced production.
In contrast to a stage play where the settings and characters are visually presented to audiences, the radio play listener can only use imagination to mentally construct the location and characters, based on what they hear, rather than what they see.
Radio Play Structure
A good radio play needs to be structured with scenes or sequences, similar to a stage play. Think of the structure in three parts – the beginning, the middle and the resolution. Keeping in mind the importance of retaining the listener’s attention, a radio play’s scenes should be shorter than the usual stage play.
There are three choices for creating a visual picture for the listening audience:
1. Use direct dialogue between actors
2. Introduce an omniscient narrator (who ‘knows everything’) at regular intervals to convey the story from a narrative perspective.
3. Use music, sound effects, or even silence, to help tell the story.
‘Hooking’ the Audience
It is important to secure the audience’s attention from the moment the play begins, so consider starting as far into the story as possible, where conflict occurs. Beginning with conflict is one way of instantly engaging audience attention. In other words, “find the moment”, or “hook”.
The ideal duration for a radio play is 10 – 15 minutes and remember to allow time at the beginning for opening music, and for closing music and credits at the end. Generally, one page of script with 1.5 or double spacing is said to take about one minute.
Terms Relevant to Radio Play Writing
Synopsis: Each radio play should have a synopsis on the front page above the character list, giving a brief summary of the narrative. It should attract the audience to listen to the play but not give too much away.
If the play’s storyline is unplanned, it can be helpful to create a synopsis first, and use that as a guide to construct and write the radio play content.
Plot: Is the main events in a creative work which can twist and turn to enhance the story.
Story: The chronological sequence of events, which is different to the plot. A good story might have a major plot with one or more sub-plots logically linked.
Characters: It is preferable to restrict the number of characters in a radio play to six, to avoid confusion for listeners.
Remember to include varied personalities, idiosyncrasies, and voices to make for more interesting listening. Provide each character’s key attributes on the front page of the script in a Character List to help the director cast the characters for recording.
Radio is an excellent medium for conveying “interior thought”. In other words a listening audience can be transported into a character’s mind to share their thoughts and secrets.
Dialogue: Dialogue should only be used in a radio play if succinctly written, relevant to the particular character, and pertinent to moving the story along. So, drop any word that is not important to plot and character development.
Remember that all actions and atmosphere in a radio play need to be conveyed from either dialogue or sound effects.
The character should be identified in the radio play by dialogue expressed by themselves or fellow characters. The listener cannot see the action so will not know if a character exists unless the character identifies him or herself, or is referred to by name by another character.
Ensure that characters are not always replying directly to each other’s lines, but instead bounce off each other’s dialogue to move the play forward in new directions. For example:
WENDY: Hi Frank, how are things?
FRANK: Good thanks.
The radio play’s action is static not going anywhere with the above reply from Frank.
An answer in the style of the following, pertinent to the script, would move the play forward:
FRANK: Good, thanks Wendy. The fire caused a mess but we have just finished repainting.
Draft: Write a first draft of the radio play dialogue and then revise it several times, tightening up text and using one word to replace several if possible.
Sound: Sound engages a radio play audience’s attention, whether in dialogue, effects or music
When including music in the script, remember to consider the period or style of the play if suggesting music to be used.
Sound effects are a very useful tool, but use sparingly to avoid intrusion on the narrative. Remember SILENCE can be a useful sound effect if used effectively.
Script Layout: Characters’ names should always be noted in full in the script in capital letters in the left margin and kept clear of the dialogue. Instructions to the Sound Technician regarding music and sound effects should be printed clearly. Never break up a character’s passage of dialogue by printing it over two pages. The actor should not have to turn the page in the middle of dialogue.
Print on one side of the paper and use double spacing. Fancy fonts are often difficult to read, so keep presentation of radio play clear and reader friendly.
Number pages in the top right hand corner.
Include the © sign, name and year of writing the play on the front page.
It is wonderful to be continuing the earlier fine work of Terri Adams OAM in broadcasting radio plays to the Kingston and Bayside areas via 88.3 Southern FM.
Writing radio plays is challenging and satisfying. Today’s radio playwrights in the Bayside U3A Writers Group continue to develop fine skills and entertain audiences, ensuring the longevity of radio plays in our local communities.
© Cheryl Threadgold, 2021
published 9 April 2021