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Writing Tip — Writing in Time

dandelionw-2693104_1280This year, May beats March as my least favorite month. Maybe the long, cold spring has irritated me. Or the school year has worn out its welcome, but I am more than ready to skip May and plunge into June.

But for those of you who still like May, here are some suggestion for using it as writing inspiration.

Mother’s Day: As I stated last year, this holiday is tailor-made for exploring relationships  between female relatives or women who are like mothers and daughters to each other.

Memorial Day: This is another holiday which lead to an examination of family relationships. Your focus can be on those relatives who have served our country or any family members who have passed away. Last Memorial Day weekend, my kids and I traveled with my parents to West Virginia to lay flowers on the graves of my grandparents, great-granparents, and great-great grandparents. West Virginia is the “Old Country” for my family and I was so pleased to be able to share this family history with my kids.

I can see short story set at a cemetery where relatives who are estranged are laying flowers on the tombstones. In the process, they talk and become reconciled, burying their antagonism.

Graduation from high school or college: As a member of the high school band, I attended more graduation ceremonies than is healthy for one individual to endure. But being an observer, rather than a participant, in the ceremony gave me a great position to people watch. I can develop a story along those ones, where the main character, sitting with the band, makes some discoveries about fellow classmates and their families.

Of course, graduation ceremonies are the perfect way to kick off or end a story about the students who are receiving their diplomas. Since the ceremony is usually serious, writing about one where everything goes wrong would be fun. A thunderstorm threatened my high school graduation, and as the speakers kept talking, the entire student body and crowd in the football stadium watched as the black clouds piled up to the west.

Last Day of School: This day has enormous writing inspiration for comedy with everyone from teachers to kids just marking time until dismissal. My kids’s school has a Field Day during the last week, so combining an event like that with the last day provides loads of opportunities for comic complications.

Outdoor Hobbies

Gardening: With the weather getting warmer, people can resume their outdoor hobbies, and I thought I would mention two my family enjoys. My husband gardens, planting both ornamental plants and vegetables and fruits. Gardening can be the setting for the renewal of relationships or some quality within the main character. The hard work can be a metaphor for other types of labor in a character’s life. Or I can look on the lighter side. Maybe a husband, recently retired, wants to learn about gardening from his wife, who finds he’s more of a hindrance than a help.

Fishing: My kids have recently taken up fishing for a 4-H project. I have no interested in fishing, but when I accompany my husband and kids on a fishing outing, I have an opportunity to make observations, such as, no matter how hard an angler works, there is no guarantee he will catch anything. Also, fishing is a sport of perseverance and patience. Also, if your mom has never unhooked a fish, don’t leave her alone with the kids as they are fishing. (I’m not sure I can use this as a metaphor in a story, but it’s a valuable fishing lesson.)

How does May provide you with writing inspiration?

Writing Tip — Poetry

jeansw-1302270_1280If you didn’t know it, today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. What is Poem in Your Pocket Day? So glad you asked.

According to the website for the Academy of American Poets, Poem in Your Pocket Day began in New York City in April 2002. “In 2008, the Academy of American Poets took the initiative to all fifty United States, encouraging individuals around the country to participate. In 2016, the League of Canadian Poets extended Poem in Your Pocket Day to Canada.”

But what do you do to celebrate this day? Choose a favorite poem, or just your favorite lines from one, and share it with another person. If you want to go on social media, use #pocketpoem.

This post is my pocket, and I will share some of my favorite lines of poetry.

From Red Sings from Treetops by Joyce Sidman:

images copy“In Spring, Red sings

from the treetops:

cheer-cheer-cheer,

each note dropping

like a cherry

into my ear.”

 

“Purple pours

into summer evenings

one shadow at a time,

so slowly

I don’t notice until

hill,

house,

book in my hand,

and Pup’s

Brown spots

are all

Purple.

Please use the comments below to share yours. Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day! Or should that be Merry Poem in Your Pocket Day?

 

 

Writing Tip — Poetry

giftw-444518_1280Wither Mother’s Day and Father’s Day coming up in the next few months, it’s not too early to start work on a poem as a gift. If you are new to poetry, I have two recommendations. The first is reprinted from a post I wrote last year. The second is for a site I have recently discovered. If you haven’t considered giving a gift of poetry, please do. So personal a gift is sure to be treasured.

Books of Children’s Poetry

I like studying children’s poetry because I can focus on the structure, instead of the meaning, which is usually straight forward.  Below are listed books that are a great introduction to a few different styles of poetry.

Rhyming poetry — A Child’s Calendar by John Updike

Free verse — Red Sings From the Treetops by Joyce Sidman

Haiku — The Cuckoo’s Haiku, The Maine Coon’s Haiku, and The Hound Dog’s Haiku by Michael J. Rosen

Acrostic poems — Winter: An Alphabet Acrostic, also Fall, Spring, Summer by Steven Schnur.

Shadow Poetry

The website Shadow Poetry has everything a budding poet needs to get started. Under “Poetry Types” a plethora of traditional and new styles of poetry are listed in alphabetical order and are defined with examples. Want to write your mother a sonnet? Look it up here. Japanese poetry gets its own section.

Under “Handbook” all kinds of terms associated with figurative and poetic language are defined. When I browsed through “W”, I found “wrenched accent”. It means the “forced change in the normal accent of a syllable or syllables to make a word conform to the prevailing metrical” pattern. I’ve often come across this accent in rhyming children’s books and thought it was just called “bad poetry”. What’s worse, I’ve committed this crime myself. Now at least my crime has a name.

Remember to EDIT

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, no matter what you are writing, you should always  go back and edit. No one writes their best in a first draft.

Have you ever given a literary gift? If so what was it?

Writing Tip — Names

blogging-1168076_1280I am posting today instead of Thursday because I am guest blogging on Tessa Emily Hall’s site, Christ is Write. My post combines several ways to generate names for characters. If you like developing names as much as I do, click here to visit the site.

Writing Tip –Poetry

picture-bookw-1983812_1280Have you ever thought of poetry as “verbal music”? That’s how writer Darlo Gemeinhardt describes it in this post on Almost an Author. She goes on to describe the “notes” of this music. Two of these “notes”, alliteration and consonance, are discussed at length in two other posts on this site. The author dissects line from Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” to demonstrate how effective these “notes” can be.

I believe prose writers can use these techniques as long as we don’t overuse them. Alliteration, consonance, and assonance bring a rhythm to prose that, hopefully, make it memorable.

Alliteration — “the repetition of initial consonant sounds”. From Alliteration: The Sound of Poetry I

I love alliteration, but I’m always afraid of using it too much, making my writing look amateurish. So I’ll ask your opinion. Which do you think is better?

“I glued my gaze to the gun.”

“I fastened my gaze to the gun.”

I went with the second, buy maybe the first was better.

Another thing I’ve noticed with alliteration is that superheroes seemed to have alliterative names: Bruce Banner, Clark Kent, and Peter Parker. If you are thinking of creating a superhero, an alliterative name is something to consider.

Consonance — the repetition of the same consonant sound within words that are contained in the same line or sentence. From Consonance: The Sound of Poetry II.

Consonance reminded me of a writing exercise in my college creative writing class. The professor asked us to think of words that sounded a certain way, such as words that sound cold. I came up with “incisive.” The long “I” and “s” signaled cold to me. When the professor asked for words that sounded fat, I suggested “triumphant.”

So when trying to set the mood of a scene, I keep in mind how the words sound. For a scene where a character is sneaking through the night, I might use words that have a lot of “s” sounds. “N” also sounds soft. I would use “night” more often than “dark”, which has a harder sound.

But a fight scene could use harsher sounds, like “k”, “d’, and “t”.

Assonance — the repetition of vowel sounds anywhere within a group of words. From The Music of Poetry by Darlo Gemeinhardt

Assonance can give rhythm to names. I recently needed to come up with a name for a characters who is a millionaire. Since he is nice millionaire. I decided the name couldn’t be too strong. Names ending in “ton” sound wealthy and powerful, like “Kensington”. or  “Covington”. I decided on “Everett”. Not too imposing, but it sounded like the family could be from old money. I chose “Adam” as the first name because it’s fairly traditional, suitable for a member of an old-money family, but not as boring Richard or Robert.

When I put “Adam Everett” together, I really liked the rhythm and now I know why. The assonance of the short “a” in “Adam” and the short “e” in Everett give the name a dash of poetry.

How do you use elements of poetry in your prose?

 

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