Critiquing Early Drafts – Poetry

Also known as, Dissecting Ormenth Roth.

First Draft

One of the first adventure poems to go live on my Instagram @DJFpoet was an early draft of some verses thrown together after a roleplaying session. Originally, it was a quick attempt to make the character death sound heroic. For those who played, it provided a reasonable summation of the battle. See for yourself:

             The Fall of Ormenth 

Through darkened hallway, stair, and room
They stumbled forth to greet their doom
A valorous fight they waged upon
The forces of evil from dusk till dawn
Upon evil altar stood four crones
And in the room two of her drones,
A drow priestess of evil led their charge
And drow knight came on lizard large.

They downed the beast men with much haste
Of evil sounds their ears did taste
With wands of power they fell and stood
One held by evil, two by good
Ormenth Roth fought brave his foe
But ferocious lizard would be his woe
When a light was lit at battles end
A fallen hero lay still and rend
- DJF 04/16/07

While today, it doesn’t read terrible, there’s a lot of flaws: poor word choices, cliches, simple rhymes, and confusion that needs to be cleaned up. I’ll review those in detail below.

Adventure Dice
These polyhedrons save lives.

Revision Notes

Through darkened hallway, stair, and room – Lists are boring, and while this rhymes with the next line doom, it’s not creating much setting. Consider modifying to add a stronger sense of location, which is challenging in a few syllables.

They stumbled forth to greet their doom – Who are they? And why are they greeting doom? Replace the pronoun to give context into who they are, and find a better word for greet that creates atmosphere.

A valorous fight they waged upon – Fight is a generic, which often happens to word choice in a first draft. The brain will usually go to familiar words and cliche phrases. Next revision, spice up the combat more specially, even using hyperbole.

The forces of evil from dusk till dawn – While forces of evil is cliché, I can work with that trope, but the Tarintino reference needed to go. The idea that the fight lasted through the night needed to stay, and the rhyme was solid.

Upon evil altar stood four crones – The word Evil showed up five times in the middle of the poem. Definitely pulling on easy to access words when drafting. Changing evil out gave me a chance to set more mood. Also, the crones were not standing on an altar, they were around it, such as on a dais. Needed to tweak this so people didn’t envision four old women table dancing.

And in the room two of her drones – Drones in 2007 meant mindless slaves, servants, and such. Today it has a different meaning, and these were not robotic controlled, unmanned devices.

A drow priestess of evil led their charge – Seeing all the evil now? Well, they’re gone in the revised version, and while the next version is better, I’d have to fully reconstruct it to bring it to the next level.

And drow knight came on lizard large – Were are all the drow coming from? The scene wasn’t set very well from the beginning, something I’d remedy if I could remember the story better.

Next Time

And that’s the first eight lines, the first stanza. In the next post, I’ll present the revised poem. Without remembering the scope of what happened, it’s hard to clean up the middle and all the different antagonists. In future revisions, a clear understanding of the opposing forces is something to take into account when writing and revising new poems. -DJF

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