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Writer's Room => Kidlit Genres => Topic started by: kimmar on February 12, 2005, 09:25 AM

Title: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kimmar on February 12, 2005, 09:25 AM
I'm wondering if anyone here might be interested in forming a freeverse discussion group. I'm working on a freeverse novel and I'm reading every freeverse novel I can get my hands on. At this time, I'm reading analytically, focusing on four questions (aside from "Do I like this?"):

How does the form serve the story?
What does the form do for the voice?
What are the limitations of the form?
How do the structure and the form interact?

Let me know if anyone's up for this.
Kim



Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Jen K. on February 12, 2005, 11:11 AM
Hey, I'm interested! I have a novel that keeps coming out in free verse even though I'm not sure I want it to. I keep trying to put it back into regular old narrative form but I'm continually drawn back to the other. I'm afraid it's because I do love so much of what I've read.

Recent reads: Stop Pretending, Almost Forever, Heartbeat, What My Mother Doesn't Know, One of those Hideous Books...

I'll think a bit on the form/structure questions, and post again in a bit.
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Andi W. on February 13, 2005, 05:36 AM
Hi Kimmar and Jen K,

I'm interested as well. My Bebop book --due out at the end of the summer, is made up of both free verse and rhyming poetry. I do think that the more serious of my poems are in free verse, but Sonya Sones is able to pack every kind of emotion  --humor, angst, anger, dispair, hope...into her words. I think it's a matter of the number of words in a line ---for emphasis, use of space and placement and of course word choice. Every word counts --be it to add dimension to the characters, tone, setting... just a few thoughts ;-) I'm also working on a free verse novel --this will be the third one I've written once I (hopefully) finish it.


Andi
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Jen K. on February 13, 2005, 08:02 AM
Hey, Andi. Congratulations on your Bebop book! I'm curious though. Is it one of their emergent readers? I noticed that they had some books that rhyme, but hadn't really thought of them as a target market for free verse. Mine's a novel, and I'm not ready to submit, so I haven't researched markets -- I'm curious more than anything.

I love both Sones and Creech. I've been really thinking about the way they interlace the scenes together and transition from one to the next. The free verse style I think ensures that each scene packs an emotional punch. There's a resonance, a rhythm that helps convey the emotion in different way than narrative text. I'm not yet sure I understand how or why it works. Or how it contributes to VOICE?

The use of space on the page is something that fascinates me, since it affects the way I read things, even in my head, and I wonder about how that reinforces the impact. How do you determine the placement? Natural pauses that you want the reader to feel, and does that create the emotion or intensify it?

One thing I'm grappling with is the time frames and plot points. Do they feel as clearly defined to you? Should they? How does it differ from journal style or just regular first person narrative? Would you consider that the form lends itself more to a plot based or a character based book? I'd say the latter. The story arc itself feels less dramatic to me, though the element of inevitable surprise is definitely there in all of the books I've read recently.

I have a blend of rhyme and non-rhyme in mine also. Sones had a few instances of rhyme in each of her novels -- is that still considered free verse? Is it classified differently because it rhymes? 

Just a few random thoughts. I'm up for discussing any particular book. Haven't read that many yet, but am making my way through them.
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: AlmaFullerton on February 13, 2005, 09:06 AM
I think, as with writing in prose, the answers to your questions are all about how you write the book to begin with. Even with prose, if you don't write it correctly, the form won't do diddley squat for the story, character or the voice.
To begin any novel, no matter what form, you have to have a great story/plot and a strong character that will carry through to the end of the book.
With freeverse novels you pretty much have to stick to the barebones of the story.  Freeverse should be lean and mean. Every word, every poem, has to be important but you still have enough of a story that you can make the reader laugh, cry, and care about your mc.
Description of the setting is not necessary, however describing something that affects the mc and his thinking a great deal, is important.
Voice is what freeverse is all about,  because you are really writing one big poem. You want a voice that will grab a reader and hold on to her until the end of the book - even past the end, so she's still thinking about the book when she's done.
Use of space is very important. If you need a word to pack a punch you may want to set it aside from the rest so it stands alone. If your mc is scared or excited you may want to use run on sentences in the same way someone would speak if they were feeling those emotions.
I don't believe time frames and plot points should be handled in any way different than a regular prose novel. If you jump around the reader will be lost in just the same way.
A freeverse novel has to have a character arc to work just the same as a prose novel. And like any novel you have to know what you are trying to say with the book. You have to know what you want your readers to take away from it. Why are you writing it? You have to have conflict and character growth and your mc has to solve his own problem.

Just my thoughts.

Alma
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Andi W. on February 13, 2005, 09:09 AM
Jen,

My book is an emergent reader --13 poems about 700 words total. Not much space to tell a tale, but hopefully because the subject is emotional, it will resound with the reader. I saw that they expressed interest in poetry collections and wrote one with Bebop in mind. By the time I was finished revising with my editor (who's wonderful!) the book became quite different than the one I submitted.

Sones is able to move the plot along so well with each turn of the page. She has a precise story to tell and is able to move the story along as well as enrich it with layers. Can't say I can explain how she accomplishes this, but I see her as a  master at making every poem add to the theme and character of her story. For me that's one of her greatest strengths.

As far as knowing how to place the words on the page --I read everything out loud to hear where the emphasis should be --to understand what will add the most impact and meaning, but on a first draft I try not to worry too much about this. I have to let the story come out --and write itself --allow the characters to tell me what they want to say. That's how it seems to work best for me. More a process of evolution than actual plotting, at least initially. But ultimately, if you're worried about marketing --you better have a strong story arc. Editors are not interested in just wonderful poetry. There has to be a solid story behind your words --emotional resonance and interesting, believable characters. I think when free verse is well done, it distills emotions which is how it packs such power into every word.

I have read a lot of novel in verse --whatever I can find. I read a lot of poetry in general. Reading is the best place to start, as with every kind of writing. Hope I haven't totally confused you :-)

Andi
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kimmar on February 14, 2005, 06:47 PM
Andi said: "Editors are not interested in just wonderful poetry. There has to be a solid story behind your words --emotional resonance and interesting, believable characters. I think when free verse is well done, it distills emotions which is how it packs such power into every word."

I agree with this, and that is what I'm hoping to accomplish with my freeverse YA. I know some readers are turned off to the form and, as a result, may choose not to pick up a freeverse book, but I can't let that stop me.

It's interseting that Wolff insists she does not write freeverse poetry, yet her novels are listed as freeverse. There's no doubt about the pure poetry of Sones, imho. Does anyone care to share their thoughts on other books by different freeverse authors? I'm not into bokk-bashing by any means, but I would love to consider why some books might work for some folks and not for others. Let's keep this discussion going.
Kim

Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Charis on February 15, 2005, 08:31 AM
"Some readers are turned off to the form..." Kim, do you mean the form itself or maybe the subject matter of many of the books? I've read articles by teachers and librarians saying many students like them because they aren't long and wordy. Like most books, they aren't going to appeal to everyone but they do seem to be finding their niche and I'm hoping (selfishly) that trend will continue. 

I've read Wolff's interviews and tried to read a few of her books and what she says ABOUT her writing resonates much more with me than the actual books she writes. I can read for a while, appreciating the skill she has, but the stories/characters themselves simply don't draw me on enough to finish them.

Mish, I agree with what you've said and if there's anything I could pinpoint as a "problem area" in the freeverse novels I've read, it's weakness of plot/story arc. I enjoy reading Creech's free verse for the way she strings her words together, but I wonder at the success of these books with so little plot. They are almost exclusively character driven (not always by the child "MC" either) and I wonder what kids actually think of them. It's something I constantly keep in my mind as I write my freeverse novel with a bit of trepidation as to whether I'm succeeding and am relieved that I have astute crit partners who are sure to point it out if I'm not...and a burly inner editor too when it's revision time. Frenchtown Summer is one book I read through and again could appreciate the words and images but it seemed less a story of the MC and more that of his setting/time and the one who actually seems to show growth is the father, not the MC. At least that's how I'm remembering it.

Kim, to sum up what works for me, I love books with motion/movement, an observant eye, unique characters and voice, humor, depth without wallowing, a book that doesn't scream "Issue book!" (doesn't mean it can't have an "issue"). I'm sure I could come up with lots more but I'll stop there for now.

One thing I've noticed when I am working on my freeverse early drafts- there's something about the creative process of freeverse that sidesteps my internal editor more "easily" than my other novelwriting. Has anyone else found that?
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Jen K. on February 15, 2005, 10:28 AM
I wish I had more than just a minute to post, but Charis I had to respond to your post.

YES! On both points.

That's exactly what I was referring to regarding many free verse books seeming to be more character based than plot driven. You just said it better.  :P

I do struggle with the elements of plot, so maybe I'm analyzing it all wrong. Please jump in and HELP if I'm off base. I look at Love that Dog (which I loved, btw) and the events are compelling. I like the MC's struggle with poetry, and growing acceptance of what happened to Sky, but I don't feel the rise in tension, the buildup -- though there is the denouement, somehow.

In Almost Forever and Stop Pretending, there is a struggle, a big event and certainly, they are filled with emotion, and wonderful writing and a rich voice --  but again, is it the same kind of dramatic arc that you are supposed to see in a novel? The first is a story of a father, a doctor away in Vietnam for 'a year'. How does the MC grow in this novel? And in the second? I guess I see the 'acceptance', or realization aspect, but not the major plot points and dramatic rise in tension. The MC does not make the situation worse and worse... does she?

I know I'll be in the minority, but I didn't make it through the couple of Wolff's 'free verse' books that I tried. I found myself skimming through Make Lemonade. Personal preference, I guess. I'm not sure why.

Regarding the internal editor, that too is baffling me. Since I'm actually a lot nervous about writing poetry, I keep trying to go back to a narrative voice, but the bare bones free verse style is the only one that I end up keeping. It's also the one where I feel like I am 'showing' rather than 'telling'.

Interesting stuff. Thanks everyone for sharing. I do agree that a novel in verse must have the same elements as one that is not in verse -- I'm just not sure I always see them as clearly (likely my failure), and even so, I love most of what I've read.
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: shelly on February 15, 2005, 10:36 AM
Now that Jen K mentioned Love That Dog and Charis asked what kids think of these books, I have to say, my nine-year-old son just read Love That Dog and he hated it. I really hate to say it, but he thought it was "the dumbest book ever." He also read Out of the Dust recently and he liked it okay, but wasn't crazy about it. My eleven-year-old daughter opened Out of the Dust and when she saw the first page, she closed it again and said, "It's weird. I'm not reading it." I tried to convince her to give it a chance, but she had zero interest--until she saw her little brother reading it and the idea of him reading something that she never read ate her up so much, she HAD to read it. (She's the self-appointed Queen Book Worm around here, and she usually insists on being the first to read every single book that enters this abode. Little personality quirk.) Anyhow, after she read it, she thought it was pretty good. SO there's some real live kid opinions for you.

(I feel bad about repeating my son's comment. In general, I don't like to say negative things about any book, if I don't care for it, I don't care for it, but I wouldn't say anything awful about it. But Charis wondered aloud what kids might think of some of these books, and I wanted to give an honest answer and my son had just made that comment just a few days ago, so it was fresh in my mind...Just so you know, I'm not into bashing other people's books and I hope nobody takes offense to his comment.)
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: WG on February 15, 2005, 10:31 AM
Two freeverse novels that captivated me are Sones' "What My Mother Doesn't Know" and Karen Hesse's "Out of the Dust." I think the form served the stories in both cases for different reasons. With Sones' book, the poetry captured the headiness of first love and dignified it. It had substance and humor, whereas the same story told in prose narration might have been trite or schlocky. The subject and style of Hesse's book is serious & heavy, but the stripped-down freeverse makes it less ponderous at the same time it amplifies the emotional impact. I am amazed that Hesse found as many ways as she did to say " It was dusty. Really dusty." I don't think she would have achieved the same effect with prose narration--it would have been pointlessly repetitive & even silly.

A related aside, has anyone read Vikram Seth's "Golden Gate"? It's an adult rhyming verse novel.

Interesting discussion.
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Caroline on February 16, 2005, 04:08 AM
I'm with you, Jen.

I also skimmed Wolf's work -- but LOVED What my Mother Doesn't Know and Loose Threads.

Great topic!  :)
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kimmar on February 16, 2005, 10:15 AM
Just read Split Image by Mel Glenn, and I think the form worked very well here. It's told in multiple POVs and my only slight concern is that there were a number of characters introduced and I came out of the story a few times trying to recall which character was which. He did paint a chilling picture with an interesting, believable take on perceptions and misperceptions. I'd never read any of his books before, but plan to read more!
Kim
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Charis on February 16, 2005, 12:39 PM
Kim,

Nikki Grimes' Bronx Masquerade was that way too with its classful of students writing poetry. But I liked it and found it interesting to see how the writing of the various characters was done. I wonder how long it would take me to write poems from so many different people...yikes! Fun though...

WG, have you read Hesse's Aleutian Sparrow? I thought it was beautifully written and its lyricism contrasted with the events of the story in such an interesting way. Your comment about the dusty repetition reminds me of Hesse's Stowaway. By the time I got to the midway point I was bored, thinking that the pages were all accounting the same ship activities over and over...then I realized that was the reality of ship travel then. Can't say it made for pull-me-along reading but it was masterful in creating the emotions in the reader that must have often been in those actually living/working on a ship. Or maybe I'm just wierd.  :werd

There's a free verse novel out about the Lindbergh kidnapping trial set in the N. J. county where I used to live and I'd like to read it. Has anyone read it?

Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kimmar on February 17, 2005, 07:40 AM
Charis, I've heard of that Linbderg book but haven't read it. Maybe someone else can chime in on that.

I know this has been mentioned in previous posts, but I'd like to bring up plot structure again in freeverse novels, as today my WIP is feeling plotless :(. Just a bit of background... I was 30,000 words into this novel in prose before I started writing freeverse from my mcs pov as a way to better get into her head. She likes talking to me this way it seems, so the prose is on the backburner, with the key scenes being rewritten in freeverse. I was feeling stuck when I switched, so it's likely my plot wasn't fully developed in prose either, but I do want to make sure that the actions of my mc move the story forward, initiating reactions, etc. I'm not sure any of you have analzed freeverse novels in serach of the precise points where a particular poem shows such plot points, but that's what I want to explore as I read. If anyone does have examples, I'd love to hear them.
Kim
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: WG on February 17, 2005, 10:51 AM
Kimmar, I don't have the two books I mentioned in front of me, so I can't analyze the specific language. But I can tell you that there are key action moments in each novel. The action is not contained in one poem--more like a series of 5-6-- each one revealing a bit more incrementally & expanding on the mc's emotions. But--and this is what I think is critical to advancing the plot--the action represented is unresolved or points to more questions. So, for example, in "What My Mother Doesn't Know,"the mc attends a costume dance & is approached by a masked man. In a series of poems she dances with him, says goodbye, realizes she never found out his identity, goes in search of him & doesn't find him but is harrassed by some jerky, drunken boys. And then her mother picks her up & they have a fight (subplot). So the identity of the stranger is left unresolved & contrasts nicely with the jerky boys & the fight with Mom. In "Out of he Dust," a series of poems reveal a terrible accident involving the mc's mother (I don't want to give away too much). Each poem elaborates a little more on the other, both the specifics of what happened and the mc's state of mind. It's very gripping--like watching a train wreck in slow motion. But, again, there is no immediate resolution. And the subplot (or co-plot) of the dust storms raging parallel the personal grief at the heart of the story. In both books, if my memory is correct, these key events that I have just described happen in the middle of their respective narratives.

Charis, I did read Aleutian Sparrow & liked it a lot. I also loved Stowaway. I didn't read it in one sitting; I took a brief break in the middle. Hesse is one of my favorite authors.

Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Gail on February 17, 2005, 11:46 AM

There's a free verse novel out about the Lindbergh kidnapping trial set in the N. J. county where I used to live and I'd like to read it. Has anyone read it?


Iv'e been reading this thread with much interest...nows my chance to chime in!

Yes, I read this book. It's "The Trial" by Jen Bryant.  I loved it!  I was so surprised.  I got it for my son.  (Our library puts stickers on the spine for "historical" books, they are the only ones he'll read, so that's why I picked it.) When I showed it to him and he saw the format he said he wasn't reading poetry. To be perfectly honest, I had the same feeling when I opened the cover. I'm not a big fan of poetry....okay, is everyone done gasping?  Anyway, I decided to give it a try since the topic was so intruiging. It blew me away. I really loved it!

Now I'm not sure why I had never noticed this before, but so many of the picture books that I love are really written in this format. I guess the illustrations just made it so I didn't notice.
What I really loved is the simplicity of the words and the pure emotion they evoked. Now I keep looking for other free verse novels to read. I'm hooked!

Side note: I read a interview with Maurice Sendak recently and he was talking about growing up in this time period and about how much the Lindbregh kidnapping was a part of life and how it effected him as a child. "Outside Over There" is based on this case. I tried reading it to my girls when they were little and it was just too creepy for all of us. Weird, huh? 

Gail

P.S> Spell check has disappeared, so I apoligize. I'm the worlds worst typist and speller.

Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kimmar on February 17, 2005, 12:14 PM
****I HAVE A FEW SPOLIERS HERE SO IF YOU HAVEN"T READ THE FIRST 30 PAGES OF OUT OF THE DUST, AND PLAN TO, DON'T READ THIS POST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!****

WG,
Funny that I should take a break from my own writing today, before you pasted, to read Out Of The Dust! WOW! I have so much to say about, and so much I think I can learn from the writing of this book. I couldn't put it down until I reached the end.

Although the accident you mention doesn't occur until page 60 (and could maybe be considered the book's first major plot point if I were to look at it that way), in the first section of the book (Winter, 1934), in 17 poems spanning 33 pages, Hesse planted key questions in my mind that begged me to keep reading. These were the questions: How will mom's pregnancy change things? Will this fetus make it, unlike the others? Will daddy get his boy? How will Billie Jo react to the new sibling? How will she cope now that her best friend has moved away? How will the family manage these hard times? Will they leave too? In her piano playing, we see Billie Jo's passion, where will that lead her? Will the family dynamics we've seen so far prevent her from pursuing her music?

I saw the pregnancy question as one that, at that point, could be happily or unhappily resolved. I saw the mc's desire to use her talent as a way to escape the conditions and trying times that the dust (the same dust that caused the departure of her best friend) had thrust upon the family. All of those questions made it impossible for me to stop reading. Even though the worst tragedy was yet to come. This is all food for thought as I consider the pacing of my book and the right placement for a tragic scene that forces my character to take a hard look at her own life.

There are two spots later in the book that I think I might also consider major plot points, but if anyone has thoughts on what I've said so far, I'd love to hear them.

Kim
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Charis on February 18, 2005, 09:42 AM
Gail, so glad I could give you an "intro door" to our discussion.  :angel:  It is amazing the ripples from that one event reach throughout a distance. My ex-father-in-law was orphaned at infancy around that time and was in an orphanage in Bucks Co, PA. He was told that members of the Lindbergh family came to check him out because he matched the physical description and age of the missing child.

I definitely do want to read The Trial (I couldn't remember a title like that? Yikes!) and I'm glad it gave you a different, more appealing, window into poetry. I know for myself, I laughed when someone first called me a "poet" because I kept thinking sonnets, limericks, and such and I stink at those "tight" forms. But I love your description of free verse, "simplicity of words and pure emotion," Yes! That's what draws me to write free verse novels, you verbalized it so well in so few words...hmmmmm, could there be some free verse in YOUR future?  :moose

Kim, your questions are excellent and would be so instructive to apply them to a specific book (or more!). It's been too long since I've read Out of the Dust to contribute but it gave me an idea. Would anyone be up to reading (or rereading) a specific book and then discuss these kinds of things, plot/character development, narrative arc, description, etc?

Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kimmar on February 18, 2005, 09:54 AM
>>Would anyone be up to reading (or rereading) a specific book and then discuss these kinds of things, plot/character development, narrative arc, description, etc?<<

Yes, Charis! Me! Any other takers?
Kim
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: tgseale on February 18, 2005, 10:16 AM
Me too, Charis!  I'd love to read/reread with the goal of discussing the specifics.  I've been late coming to this conversation, but  have been absorbing every word of it. 
tg
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kellyr on February 18, 2005, 10:45 AM
I'd be up for "assigned reading" also.  Haven't read any free verse novels yet, but there are several in my overly large reading pile.
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kimmar on February 18, 2005, 11:12 AM
What should we start with?
:),
Kim
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: WG on February 18, 2005, 02:11 PM
Me too! I will think about some suggestions & post again later. Gotta run right now!
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: AlmaFullerton on February 19, 2005, 01:41 PM
I'm in as long it's a book I can get my hands on. My library pretty much sucks and I  can't always get books in Hardcover.

Alma
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Charis on February 20, 2005, 02:41 PM
Wow, just got home and showered (ahhhhhhh) after two days camping with my three sons and about 50 other people from my church. I've conquered biscuits-in-foil cusine and am now up for free verse exploration. I'm so glad to see a good sized "discussion group" developing.

Mish, do you have any idea which books you could locate? Maybe it'll help us narrow down a list.
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: AlmaFullerton on February 20, 2005, 05:05 PM
I never know. Just pick one if I can get it all discuss it with you all. If I can't go on without me.

Alma
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: WG on February 20, 2005, 06:19 PM
These are from Andi W's post of the "free verse novels" thread:

Catherine Bateson - A Dangerous Girl / The Year It All Happened
Marlene Carvell - Who Will Tell my Brother
Eirean Corrigan - You Remind me of You: A Poetry Memoir
Terri Fields - After the Death of Anna Gonzales
Helen Frost - Keesha's House
Mel Glenn - Taking of Room 114 / Foreign Exchange: A Mystery in Poems / Jump Ball: A Basketball Season in Poems / Split Image: A Story in Poems / Who Killed Mr. Chippendale?: A Mystery in Poems
Nikki Grimes - Bronx Masquerade
Juan Felipe Herrera- Crashboomlove: A Novel in Verse
Karen Hesse - Out of the Dust / Witness / Aleutian Sparrow
Paul Janeczko - Stardust Otel
Ron Koertge - Shakespeare Bats Clean-up/ Brimstone Journals
Joanne Rocklin - For Your Eyes Only
Ann Warren Turner - Learning to Swim: A Memoir
April Halprin Wayland - Girl Coming In For a Landing
Margaret Wild - Jinx / One Night
Vera B. Williams - Amer Was Brave, Essie Was Smart
Janet S. Wong - Behind the Wheel: Poems About Driving, Minn and Jake
Jacqueline Woodson - Locomotion
The Way A Door Closes --Hope Anita Smith

Let's pick one from here? I'm willing to read/re-read any of these.


Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Gail on February 21, 2005, 08:22 AM
Gail, so glad I could give you an "intro door" to our discussion.  :angel:  It is amazing the ripples from that one event reach throughout a distance. My ex-father-in-law was orphaned at infancy around that time and was in an orphanage in Bucks Co, PA. He was told that members of the Lindbergh family came to check him out because he matched the physical description and age of the missing child.

I definitely do want to read The Trial (I couldn't remember a title like that? Yikes!) and I'm glad it gave you a different, more appealing, window into poetry. I know for myself, I laughed when someone first called me a "poet" because I kept thinking sonnets, limericks, and such and I stink at those "tight" forms. But I love your description of free verse, "simplicity of words and pure emotion," Yes! That's what draws me to write free verse novels, you verbalized it so well in so few words...hmmmmm, could there be some free verse in YOUR future?  :moose





Charis,
That's so interesting about your ex-father-inlaw. I'm pretty much roped in now on reading more about the Lindbergh case. I'm also in on the free verse assigned reading! Me a poet? I don't know...but I like how you quoted me! I think I need to "listen" to those words when I go back to reread my latest revision.
Thanks,
Gail
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kellyr on February 22, 2005, 12:14 PM
Let's see what books Alma can get to.  But based on title and name of author, I like Eirean Corrigan - You Remind me of You: A Poetry Memoir best
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kimmar on February 22, 2005, 12:40 PM
Does anyone know of any freeverse titles that tell a story in dual POV? I'm not looking for multiple povs here, just two.
Kim
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Charis on February 22, 2005, 12:46 PM
I have to admit, Kelly, I've tried numerous times to get into You Remind Me of You and just can't. I can understand the beginning mirroring disjointed thoughts of someone in the MC's situation but I couldn't make myself follow it. It was similar to my reaction to Virginia Euwer Wolf - I can appreciate the effort it took to write but I don't want to have to FORCE myself to read it. So if eveyone else really wants to read that one, I'll just wait for the next book. I'm also not a good group decision maker so (although, obviously, I have no problems with using veto power.  :uhuh) so let's hear from more of you.

 :EmoticonHelp2:
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kellyr on February 22, 2005, 02:36 PM
With that ringing un-endorsement, I change my mind.  Anything but You Remind Me of You.
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: WG on February 22, 2005, 06:24 PM
I looked up just about all of these books. None appear to be just 2 povs. Several are multiple pov. I vote for Paul J.'s Stardust Otel or Shakespeare Bats Clean Up. No particular reason. The first is by someone who has been publishing freeverse the longest. Either that or let's learn from a master & do one of Hesse's. Witness is multiple pov.  Kim, are we writing the same book? I also want just 2 characters.
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: AlmaFullerton on February 23, 2005, 05:14 PM
Does anyone know of any freeverse titles that tell a story in dual POV? I'm not looking for multiple povs here, just two.
Kim

Mine does!
Okay, I know you read it and are looking for a real book. I don't know one off hand.

Kellyr - as I said I never know what I can get and what I can get you've all probably already read so someone else pick a book and I'll try to find it. Maybe even order it online.

Alma
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kimmar on February 24, 2005, 06:55 AM
Excuse me, Alma, but just because your dual pov book isn't pubbed yet (and might I add that it hasn't even been SUBBED yet :)) doesn't mean it isn't a real book! But, yes, I'm looking for titles I haven't yet read.

Okay, folks are going mum here on titles. I have Out Of The Dust fresh in my mind, and read Witness yesterday. So why don't we start with Hesse? I don't care which one, but if folks don't voice an opinion on which one to start with by tomorrow, I'm picking! (Unless anyone has other ideas, lol)
Kim
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Charis on February 24, 2005, 08:05 AM
Mish, I don't mind doing one that I've already read, it'll help me gather my thoughts and "analysis" faster. Kim, I think Hesse is a good idea and I surely wouldn't mind doing either Dust or Aleutian Sparrow or Witness. Chime in, folks. One ringy dingy....two...
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: tgseale on February 24, 2005, 09:35 AM
I can order anything from the library and have it shortly, but I already have a copy of OOTD here somewhere.  Of course, it was so powerful for me for personal reasons that I said I didn't know if I could read it again...  I will, though.  For you guys...anything. ;)
Make your pick, Kim.
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: AlmaFullerton on February 24, 2005, 11:57 AM
I have Out of the Dust. We can discuss that.

 BTW, Kimmar, :!

My dual point of view ms has been with my editor since September! (Hit me back - I dare ya!)

Alma
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Charis on February 24, 2005, 02:38 PM
Okay, I'll get it out of the library this weekend.  :books:
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kellyr on February 24, 2005, 03:59 PM
Sounds like that's an official pick.  I'll get it out of the library this weekend also.
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: tgseale on February 26, 2005, 10:46 PM
I read YOU REMIND ME OF YOU today.  I have to agree about it being a bit disjointed, not just at first but throughout.  It was a bit hard to follow and somewhat repetitive/lagging? about 3/4 way through, but still a good read, I thought.  I'll read it again before I return it.
tg
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: AlmaFullerton on February 27, 2005, 07:40 AM
It seems you guys are all kicking my butt with the amount of freeverse you're reading. I don't live in a huge town and really have to drive an 30 to 40 minutes before I can get to a bookstore big enough to carry freeverse. It's really not that far but if we don't have to go to that city we don't bother.

I suppose I should be reading more, considering I've only read approximately seven freeverse novels, but I'm wondering how many of you are using reading freeverse as a stall tactic for writing it. I mean I haven't read a whole lot but I seem to be doing alright in writing it. Maybe I've just been lucky to find my voice and style early on. Or maybe it's because when I started writing it the only books I could find were Out of the Dust and Make Lemonade. Sones' books came after or about the same time I wrote mine.

I'm not saying you shouldn't be reading it. You should. Before you can write it properly you might have to read it, and I think this thread is a great way to discuss it and discuss the different ways people write it.

Also it's a great way to learn about the different styles other writers have. I think my style is somewhere inbetween Sonya Sones and Virginia Euwer Wolff (I'm not comparing the quality of my writing to either of them just the style) - sometimes my poems are 'real' poems like Sones and sometimes they are more like prose split up funny like Virginia EW.

Every freeverse writer has to have their own style to fill the niche in the market, so what I'm saying is that is alright to analyze the writing and style but if you try to copy it why would an editor choose your book over one written by the writer you're copying? Story would count of course, your story has to be different as well as your style.

I think if you find your own style, find your own plot, write the best story you can write, and work on perfecting it, you'll do fine no matter if you've read sixty freeverse books or ten. BUT I am not suggesting NOT to keep reading freeverse and seeing what is out there, or seeing how other writers write it. That would just be stupid. I'm just suggesting that you don't use it as a way to procrastinate writing your OWN novel.  ;)

AJ



Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kellyr on February 27, 2005, 08:13 AM
Alma:  I have, at this point in time, read absolutely zero free verse.  I just wanted someone to read and discuss the genre with.  Maybe I'll like it and decide to tackle it some time, maybe not.  I think reading as much writing in the area in which I'd like to work counts as writing work, whether I decide to write free verse or not.  For me, it's just part of paying attention to what's selling in the market, and to what topics or ideas or ways of writing are resonating with young readers.  In some ways, all reading is an act of procrastinating about writing, and in others, it's essential research.  But boy, do I wish you could show up at my house a few times a week and kick me in the butt about not procrastinating when I'm playing Spider Solitaire or trying to figure out how to get into the door to JK Rowling's office on her website! 
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: AlmaFullerton on February 27, 2005, 08:26 AM
I just want to clear up that I think this thread is wonderful! You should be reading and discussing books as writers. And I'll be right her discussing them with you all. To be a really good writer you have to read books written by good writers. They'll make you strive to be better. BUT  to be a good writer you also have to WRITE. Stop procrastinating and just do it.

Alma
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kimmar on February 27, 2005, 08:37 AM
Alma wrote: "BUT  to be a good writer you also have to WRITE. Stop procrastinating and just do it."

Hey Alma! You talkin' to me? You talkin' to ME??? I think you might be, lol, and as usual you say exactly what I need to hear {{}}.

Still reading but writing too,
Kim

Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: tgseale on February 27, 2005, 09:10 AM
I've read probably as few as you have, Alma.  I didn't even know I liked them as much until I read one of yours!  And now look at me...trying to imitate...the sincerest form of flattery.  :hug1:  :z:  I think, for me, I just didn't realize this form was even out there until a year or so ago.  I have notebooks and notebooks full of raw, angsty (melodramatic) freeverse from my teenage years.  I couldn't believe something like this was even considered publishable.  I'm fascinated with it and love that I can read an entire novel in an hour or two.  I would have loved a novel so succinct when I was in high school. 

I'll keep checking them out and reading them, because I like to see how other writers handle the line breaks, especially.  I know there are no hard and fast rules, but it is interesting to compare.  I wrote 800 words last night after finishing the book.

You're talented and confident in your own abilities, which I admire more than you know.  I tend to get caught up in the "OMG I've never written anything like this before.  This is so bad.  This is really bad" trap.
tg
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: AlmaFullerton on February 27, 2005, 09:45 AM
Kimmar, Yes I was talking to you. How'd you ever pick that up?  :n
Actually, I know it's a trap a lot of writers get into. So many worry about perfecting the form and style in their first drafts using other writers as an example, but honestly, I don't think there is a 'true form' in freeverse. Isn't that why it's called 'free'? And first drafts are used to get the story out. Perfect it later.

Mostly, you just have to write from the heart . I think you need to put the line breaks where you feel they will leave the most power for the reader. I wish Sonya Sones or a 'real' freeverse writer was here to tell us for sure.
Tanya, I'm flattered. Though I feel you have your own personal style and it's great.

AJ
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kimmar on February 27, 2005, 10:22 AM
Speaking of Sones, for those of you who don't know, she'll be at the YA Cafe Tuesday night starting at 8pm eastern time, talking about novels in verse. I can't wait!
Here's the cafe link:

http://ourworld.cs.com/YAAuthorsCafe/

Kim
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: AlmaFullerton on February 27, 2005, 11:20 AM
It starts at 8:00? I thought it was 8:30. Darn it. I work Tuesday night until 9pm. By the time I get home it'll be over.   :cry:

Cough Cough,
Glass shards are
raking
along my throat.
My vision is
blurred,
A hammer
is pounding
inside
my brain
so hard
it will soon
explode.
My forehead
burns
at my touch,
like hot pavement
in the summer.
But it's winter,
so I think
I'm getting
sick.

Alma (who knows that majorly sucks )
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Charis on February 27, 2005, 11:56 AM
Mish/Alma/AJ, I started writing my freeverse novel not realizing it WAS one. Until I subbed the first two chapters to my crit group and a few friends...and started getting people sending me links to freeverse articles and clips about editors saying they are open to fiction poetry/freeverse novels. I related a bit to Viginia E-W in the CWIM article when she said she wasn't a poet; it wasn't something I was striving for, it was the label others put on my writing. One thing I've learned over the years is that I'm not really capable of "mimic" writing, my own personal wierdness and voice bursts through every time! Just can't seem to tame it, and I'm glad...I've never had anyone tell me I lack voice so I really don't feel the need to go find anyone else's. Now is a good time for me to read and "analyze" other n-i-v because I'm working on a "regular" ya at the moment and so the free verse is currently mostly on the back burner, although I have been doing a "poem" or two per week lately.

But I do fight a rabid inner editor and really appreciate the reminder of getting the story out and perfecting later. That is ALWAYS my struggle and I write like  :snail:, though it's starting to get a bit "looser" these days...and writing free verse helped with that progress.
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: AlmaFullerton on February 27, 2005, 01:23 PM
Charis,

I'm glad your inner voice comes screaming through too. It's always better when it does that. Now is a good time for me to immerse myself in freeverse reading as well for the same reason. I'm working on a prose novel.
About my name changes, I'm still not sure if I'm going to publish under Alma or AJ. My editor doesn't feel it's necessary to publish under AJ even though my mc is a boy because she thinks most everyone is still buying JK Rowlings book even though they now know she's female (though she did think AJ had a nice ring to it). However, if my series for younger boys is published my new editor may feel differently. I may end up publishing under both names. Plus if I'm writing a lot or emailing a lot AJ is easier to sign.

Alma/AJ/Mish
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Tammi on February 27, 2005, 01:32 PM
I have yet to attempt a free verse book, but I really enjoy reading them.  Yesterday, I read Shakespeare Bats Cleanup  by Ron Koertgelast.  The last poem has 2 great stanzas that demonstrate to me the power of the free verse novel.

These stanzas are from a poem titled Poem for Poetry.

I wouldn't know you like I do now.  I would
have missed the way you pour down the
middle of the page like a river compared
to your pal, Prose, who takes up all
the room like a fat kid on the school bus.

You were perfect for that, Poetry.
Sure, I guess I could have spilled my guts
all over the page, but you made me want
to pour things out a little more carefully.
And into prettier containers, if you know
what I mean.
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Tammi on February 27, 2005, 01:33 PM
Oops.  The author's name is Ron Koertge.
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Charis on February 27, 2005, 03:00 PM
Alma, so I gotta know...what does the J stand for??  :typing:
The whole author-gender-marketing thing is interesting, watching it affect writers in different ways.
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: AlmaFullerton on February 27, 2005, 03:38 PM
The J stands for Jane, AJ is a well known boys name Andrew James. Actually when I was small I was called Janie but my parents had to start calling me by my first name because I played with the boy next door named Jamie. So when either of us were called for supper both would come.

Alma (now you have a little story on me for when I become rich and famous - :dr)
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Charis on February 28, 2005, 06:39 AM
 :writing3: That's me taking down your story for posterity, Alma. I know lots of AJ's and many are juniors...Aaron, Jr., Allen, Jr, Arthur, Jr., etc. Alma, Jr....has a nice ring to it. (just realized we need a ducking smilie)
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kellyr on February 28, 2005, 06:42 AM
and don't forget all those Anthony Josephs!
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: WG on March 04, 2005, 04:59 PM
So I re-read "Out of the Dust" & I'm fixin' to discuss it!

Keeping in mind the question we raised before about what drives the story, I came up with some new insights. Before I thought about key moments in the plot, which is dramatic. Almost melodramatic.  This time I really noticed all the secondary characters and the setting. There is a ton of detail, presented very matter-of-fact, as Billie Jo perceives it. The Wonder Bread door at Mr. Hardly's grocery; song titles; apple pandowdy; Joe de la Flor; "Jake on the banjo" etc. etc. All of these people, some of whom make a single appearance and are just there as part of the scenery. The sum of all these bits is a very believable backdrop, without which the plot would not advance. And then the brilliant bits of dialogue ("Chocolate milk for dinner, aren't we in clover!") take us simultaneously further into & out of Billie Jo's head & give us a real sense of her world. Finally, I remember on my first read noticing that Billie Jo's growing independence was an important theme. But this time around I concluded that it really is THE central story. All the stuff that happens to her get filtered through that plot-line, which makes sense given that the character is 15.

Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kimmar on March 09, 2005, 08:28 AM
I agree WG! I really think Hesse is a master at adding small details that translate, as a whole, into well-designed settings. And she presents minor characters in a way that adds to the story but doesn't leave the reader with too many extraneous people to worry about. Any one else have any thoughts to add?
Kim
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: tgseale on March 09, 2005, 09:58 AM
I thought my copy made it back to the shelf, but I don't see it.  I'll look under the bed, in the drawers, behind the couch...
It's around here. 
tg
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: lurban on March 10, 2005, 06:09 AM
Hope you all don't mind if I join in.

Kimmar, you asked big picture questions about structure and the like, but it always helps me to look at small things and see how they apply to the larger work.  In particular, I've been looking at the poem "The Accident" and I wonder if people would like to join me in examining it.

The baby is calling, so let me just lay out a couple of points we could discuss.

1.  Economy.  This is a pivotal (or maybe THE pivotal) moment in the novel and it is told in spare, but essential detail.  How might it be told differently in prose?

2.  Structure.  The way the first stanza mirrors the last line of the poem.  The way that each stanza tells a specific chunk of the story. 

3.  Repetition.  There are a couple of lines that are repeated, and added to.  Like "I didn't know./  I didn't know Ma was coming back."

4.  That couplet.  Or sorta couplet that comes right before the final line.

5.  Line breaks.  The difference between "I got/burned/bad" and "Ma/got/burned/bad"  or why words like "tried" and "Daddy" get left all alone.

Okay.  Jack is mad now.  I'd better get to him.

What do you all think?
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: lurban on March 11, 2005, 05:27 AM
aw nuts.
I'm a thread killer.
Please ignore above post and go on with your discussion.
I'll be dying of embarrassment in Els' dungeon.
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kellyr on March 11, 2005, 06:04 AM
And here I was thinking you were brilliant for focusing the discussion.  I haven't responded because I've been waiting for someont to return the book to the library so I can get my hands on it.  But I thought your slated topics were terrific.
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: tgseale on March 11, 2005, 06:12 AM
Still looking, Linda.  The past couple of days have been crazy busy.  If I can't find it, I'll get it at the library.  I liked your questions, too.  I wish I could remember enough about that specific poem to discuss without re-reading, but the search for the missing book continues.  ack!
tg
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: WG on March 11, 2005, 06:26 AM
I like your question, Lurban. And as soon as I get the chance I will respond for real.
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Ree on March 11, 2005, 09:16 AM
Let me see if I am understanding this correctly. There are rhyming poems, freeverse poems (poems without rhyme) and then prose (which is writing without a rhythm). Is this correct?

Thanks in advance,
Sue
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: lurban on March 11, 2005, 01:24 PM
Here's an encyclopedia definition of freeverse that should povide more than you want to know:

free verse, term loosely used for rhymed or unrhymed verse made free of conventional and traditional limitations and restrictions in regard to metrical structure. Cadence, especially that of common speech, is often substituted for regular metrical pattern. Free verse is a literal translation of the French vers libre, which originated in late 19th-century France among poets, such as Arthur Rimbaud and Jules Laforgue, who sought to free poetry from the metrical regularity of the alexandrine. The term has also been applied by modern literary critics to the King James translation of the Bible, particularly the Song of Solomon and the Psalms, to certain poems of Matthew Arnold, and to the irregular poetry of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. The form is probably most closely associated with such English and American poets as Ezra Pound, Amy Lowell, and T. S. Eliot who sought greater liberty in verse structure. Other poets who used the free verse form were William Carlos Williams, Carl Sandburg, and Marianne Moore.
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Gail on March 11, 2005, 01:44 PM
I finished "Out of the Dust" last night. I've been avoiding reading this thread so I wouldn't "learn" too much before I finished. Now I'm wrapped up in working on an illustration...must stay focused. So, I will chime in next week.

Gail
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: lurban on March 11, 2005, 02:54 PM
hope that helps
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: Ree on March 12, 2005, 04:31 AM
Thanks Lurban
Sue
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kimmar on March 23, 2005, 02:31 PM
Linda,
I was all set to FINALLY respond to your thread, even wrote comments in the book margins of the poem, and now I can't find the book! I know it's here somewhere!!!! When I find it, I promise to share my thoughts.
:),
Kim
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: brendalynn on March 29, 2005, 12:02 PM
I just wanted to pop in and say hello. I'm knew to this board and was ecstatic to see this and the other noves in verse thread. My WIP is a NIV and I've read my copy of OOTD to the point of a dogeared, stained, and well-written-on mess, but I still love it just the same, if not more.

Lurban- Your topics are interesting and I'm left wondering more of what your thoughts on these topics might be. I see the sparsity of the piece as essential. For me, "melodrama" is the word that immediately comes to mind if the piece were told in prose, or added to as is in verse form.  As it stands, we're given the essential, bare-bones, slap-in-the-face account just as it happened. We're nearly there in the scene. Any more verbage and we as readers would only be pulled futher from the emotion of the moment. When reading it aloud, it's almost as if Billie Jo is recounting the events to "me" just about five minutes after they happened, with all the stress and trauma still hanging in her voice. I can nearly hear her grasp for more air as she attempts to spout out more info in the middle of her turmoil. This effect is neatly acquired through the structure and minimal line lengths you also point out. There is a definite fast pace- intensity- when reading this piece aloud. Those couplets you point out are almost a resignation, a sigh. "I did the best I could./ But it was no good." These "lines" are just that: a full thought on one line. In this way, they suddenly slow the tempo of the piece. Of course, this is all my reading of The Accident, but I think it's pretty right-on, I hope. Anyway, I just love Hesse. She is a true poet as far as I'm concerned. Take a look also at On Stage for another great example of Hesse's use of tempo, structure, pacing, etc. Read it out loud. It's superb. I'm beginning to ramble. Sorry. Nice to meet all of you and thanks for the thread.
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kimmar on May 09, 2005, 11:39 AM
Hi all!
It's been way too quiet on this thread and I miss it, so I'm attempting to start up again...
Linda, I found my notes on The Accident, and they almost perfectly mirror yours!

I just read CRANK, by Ellen Hopkins. Has anyone else here read it?  I can appreciate the skill it took, in some of the poems, to make words fall on the page so that if they are read separate from the rest of the poem, those "stand out words" show a progression of feelings. However, while I appreciate that technique I was also quite frustrated by it, as it took me out of the story. I like freeverse best when the words stand alone to add emphasis while falling where they should naturally fall. Here, some words stood alone mid-sentence (but only, it seems, so they would work together as I described above), and because they stood alone emphasis was placed on them in my mind, although the emphasis should only have been placed on them when they were taken apart with the other stand-alone words to show that stream of consciousness. This bugged me. A lot. If anyone read, or plans to read this book, hopefully my comments will make better sense :).

Anyone else read any freeverse lately?
Kim
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: joanpaq on May 09, 2005, 01:31 PM
Would you believe that I have not ever read a freeverse book--at all?? (Is there something wrong with me?  :confused2:) Does anybody have a recommendation of their single favorite book as a beginner's intro to the genre?

Joan
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kimmar on May 09, 2005, 01:55 PM
Joan,
Two of my all-time favorites are OUT OF THE DUST, by Karen Hesse, and STOP PRETENDING, by Sonya Sones. I also loved LOCOMOTION, by Jacqueline Woodson. Happy reading!
Kim
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kimmar on May 09, 2005, 02:03 PM
Joan, one more thing. If you check back toward the start of this thread, some writers list other freeverse favorites.
:),
Kim
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: joanpaq on May 09, 2005, 03:02 PM
Cool - I'm going to put those on my Hold list at the library (as if I don't have enough books out already!!) But I'm eager to find out what all the fuss is about - so many people are loving this genre... I can't miss out on that bandwagon any longer!

Thanks, Kim!
Joan
Title: Re: Freeverse Discussion Group
Post by: kimmar on September 09, 2005, 08:56 AM
Wow! It's been a long time since anyone stopped 'round these parts :)! Read any new and exciting freeverse novels lately?
Kim