Monday, February 13, 2012

Freeing Yourself with Free Verse: Mini Challenge #4

     The Monday Mini Challenge is a 5-minute writing exercise inspired in part by an excerpt of a middle-grade or young adult novel I've recently read. Use it as a warm-up, a procrastination device, or maybe (let's be hopeful) a springboard to a real, live writing project! 
     I was all set to give you a Challenge on Dialogue this morning, but a post last Friday at Swagger Writers prompted a detour into a poetry exercise. SW blogger Regina Gort's self-affirming poem, which she wrote in a group poetry therapy session, was inspirational enough that I wanted to try it the next morning as a writing prompt. If you want to try it yourself, here's the post.
     And it got me thinking about poetry in general, bringing to mind the free verse novel which I really enjoyed last month, Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder. Brooklyn is one of the main characters, a girl who is haunted by the ghost of her friend, Gabe, who has recently died. She wonders why the ghost isn't her boyfriend, Lucca, who died a year earlier. Instead, Lucca's ghost is trying to get his brother, Nico (the other main character), to reach out to Brooklyn.
     It's beautifully written in its alternating point-of-view, with a lyrical freshness full of raw emotion. One passage in the middle is a good example of what to expect from the rest of the novel:
     Sitting in my chair,
     writing in my notebook,
     a cold invisible feather
     tickles my cheek.
     A soft brush
     of whispers
     strokes my hair.
     There is nothing to see.
     Nothing to hear.
     But I know with all my being
     Gabe is with me
     in my lair.
     Chilling, yes? How might have the passage been different if the author chose to write it in a straight narrative form? I doubt it could have a greater impact but it'd be interesting to see the result.
     Your turn! Take a paragraph or two of something you've already written and try it in free verse. Listen to sounds patterns, repetition, and syllable counts when you read it aloud.
     Ready, set, go!

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