“He spends his summer on the river, guiding rafting tours.”
This snippet of conversation struck me as I walked by the table with the two college age girls chatting. I wasn’t sure what about it caught my attention, though, until I wrote it here for my blog. I realized the rhythm sounds like a song or a poem; it is beautifully melodic.
I wonder if the girl even knew she was speaking in verse. Do we often do this without realizing it… only stopping when the next line carries the cadence through?
He spends his summer on the river, guiding rafting tours.
And if I go he says he’ll show me where the salmon swim.
I look at my own writing, my stories with plot and purpose and character and dialogue, and I wonder how I can add poetry to it without it sounding contrived. I know this style of writing effects pacing, so perhaps it is a matter of pinpointing those places where I specifically want the reader to slow down a little. I remember from a workshop long ago, that emotional scenes often utilize this tool to draw the reader into what the character is feeling.
But then again, we’ve all read those books…. the really amazing ones that literary critics rave about but somehow we struggle to finish. Like butter, it is much easier to take verse in as an ingredient , rather than as the main course.
It’s made me want to try it with some of the work I am editing; a scene from my second book about the wedding planner (un-named because a great author wrote a really nice story using the name I had planned on:>) Here’s a preview as it stands currently… and then with a poetic conversion. Let me know your thoughts. Which would you rather read?
Gabriella heard her front door shut and slid down the wall shaking and crying. She hid her head in her hands and let the tears fall. They trickled into her mouth, melting away the lingering taste of Ryan still on her lips. She was alone, again. Even when people loved her, she realized, she remained alone. She didn’t know what she had done to deserve it. It wasn’t fair, but it was the way her life had always been.
Gabriella let the tears fall as her front door shut. The wall that held her shaking body could not help her heart. On her lips she tasted Ryan through the salty tears. Alone again the verse repeated, again, again, again. Even when a person loved her still she stayed alone. She did not know what she had done to cause this game of fate. But though unfair it was the way that life had always been. The echo of the empty room became a final taunt. A life alone, alone, alone.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this… if you are a writer, when do you use verse? If you are a reader, which books have done this really successfully? Leave a comment… in verse or plain language, whichever comes most naturally.
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