Gardeners' World judge offers top tips

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A poetry competition judge has taken the unusual step of advising potential entrants how they might have a better chance of winning. Sarah Langan, one of Gardeners’ World magazine’s four poetry competition judges, is a producer of Poetry Please on Radio 4 and was one of the judges of last year's competition. We on Write Out Loud thought her advice on writing a winning poem was well worth passing on. Here it is:

Adjectives - think very carefully about using them. Show, don't tell. Use observation, rather than sentiment.

Make every word count - ask yourself if every single word earns its place in the poem. Look out for cliches.

Line endings are important - use your imagination, don't waste time with prosaic writing.

Rhyme - it can be very effective but it shouldn't be used at the cost of everything else. Don't force a word into the poem just because it rhymes.

Think of internal and half rhymes, too.

Alliteration - it can be powerful but don't overdo it.

Read your poem to others once you've finished it and get a second opinion on how to improve it.

The competition deadline is 6 October, and the organisers are looking for a garden-inspired poem with the theme of the seasons. More details


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