It’s the final post, the final notes, the final bits of advice. So what did I decide to attend?
POETICS IN PROSE
Okay, so what image does that title evoke in your mind? Why would I choose such a class? Because, dear readers, I have a couple of elderly ladies who come to our writers group sometimes. Both of them are poets, though their poems aren’t the traditional this-rhymes-with-that sort. What I notice every time they read their work is I feel drenched in powerful imagery. I feel strong emotion. I feel like I could leap into a beautiful colorful world. And so I thought, I should read more poetry and see if that doesn’t influence my writing. Because a poet, at least the ones I read, must choose their words carefully. They are great at showing you what they want you to see vs. the telling we novelists sometimes fall prey to.
So, having all this in mind, I went to the Poetics forum, taught by a man named Jack Remick. He really fits the caricature, in my mind, of what a poetic prose writer would look like. And he really knew his stuff.
Why the long intro? Because I know some of you may be put off by this idea, by poetics in prose. You just want to write commercial fiction, and this seems something that belongs to those literary types. But I believe letting something like this influence your writing can help set you above the other commercial fiction writers. And who’s to say you won’t write something literary in the future anyway? Keep the door open on all writing friends. Besides, I think this session helped me better understand the mechanics of sentences and why they do what they do and shouldn’t we all want to know how to do that if we’re serious about writing?
In great writing there are three important things: story, structure, and style. Listen to your characters. Write the story they want to tell you, not the story you want to write. Why do some stories grab you and won’t let you go? The hook isn’t just in the story, but in the attitude and style.
What the character “can’t have” is a central point of conflict in the story. Want, need, and can’t lead to action.
We’re going to do something called Structured Timed Writing to help develop the techniques of style—Beat, Breath, Rhythm, as well as Attitude and Voice.
Rhythm: short sentences, fragments, long sentences.
Rhetorical devices: three kinds of repetition.
Attitude and Voice: strong verbs and concrete nouns give you voice and attitude and style.
REMEMBER. Adverbs not only kill prose, they hide images. Adverbs tell the reader what to feel.
The longer you write the more you need structure. Inherent in structure is rhythm. That gets us to style.