Sunday, September 24, 2017

Should I Organize My Book Of Poems Into Chapters?

Someone suggested that I organize the poems for my book, Beyond These Dark Lands are Edges Of Joy, into chapters, and I wonder if I should.

There are some advantages to using chapters.

  • Chapters can break up the collection into manageable sections for the reader.
  • Chapters can each present a theme.
  • Chapters can offer the reader choices in how they consume the collection.
  • Chapters can give a preview and prepare the reader for the pages that follow. 
  • Chapters give the reader a quick overview of the entire work.

Chapters can create problems for a book of poems. They can limit the reader's interpretation of a poem because the reader views the poem through the context of the chapter title and not experience the poem in its own unique way.

If I start to organize the poems into chapters then new questions arise...

  • How many chapters? 
  • How many poems should be in each one?
  • Should all the chapters be the same length?
  • Should the chapter titles support the name of the book or cast ahead to the poems that follow?
  • If some poems do not fit the theme of any of the chapters, do I edit them out or write a few more poems to make a new chapter or rewrite the poems so they fit one of the chapters, and risk a weaker poem or a weaker chapter?
Without the chapter divisions, the reader can progress through the collection and come to a conclusion one poem at a time. 

Without chapter divisions, the reader may get tired and since they do not see a dividing point put it down and not return to it.  

My choices must be measured against my original vision for the project, or else I will end up with something that will lack unity, be confusing and without a clear message. I feel that God gave me the idea to write this book of poems to encourage people who are going through difficult times with a reminder of His sacrificial love and wise purpose for them. Which brings me to the biggest question of all; will a chapter based format enhance my original vision for the work or take away from it?

I can just say yes or no and get on with it, but what if I am wrong and miss an opportunity to make the collection better than it would have been otherwise?

I will test the collection both ways for a while. I'll organize them one way (in chapter form) and see if it works and then I'll arrange them the other way (without chapter breaks) and see if it is better. After I look at them both ways for a while I will decide.

If you would like to read a sample poem choose the link below for the website.

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(c) Adron 3/4/18

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