For the last several days my boys and I have been home from school due to the weather. While the break has been good there comes a point when you have too much time on your hands, and you have been in the house too long—and the only way you are going to survive being around each other is to get creative. We made flarp (fart putty) and did experiments, we played legos, I set up scavenger hunts, we played games. Finally after wearing them down, we watched a movie—Bedtime Stories.
If you have never seen bedtime stories, it about a guy that has to keep his sisters kids who is also trying to win the position of General Manager at a hotel. This is a big dream, because his father originally owned the hotel and since selling it, the main character has been the pool boy. In taking care of the kids, he begins to tell them bedtime stories—here is where the magic happens.
Anytime one of the children adds something to the bedtime story it comes true. This gets really crazy when it starts raining gumballs and—-well I won’t ruin it for you. For me it took me back to hearing stories read to me as a kid, or even better when someone would make up a story to tell me before bed. I love stories, and story telling.
Over the next couple months, I am going to focus on different aspects of story telling that we can put into play in our poetry. Today we are just going to focus on what makes up a story and then give you a chance to tell a story in your poetry.
While you may get an argument on what makes a good story, each of them contain five elements: Setting,
Plot, Character, Conflict, and Theme.
The first step is to set the scene, the story has to take place somewhere. We can handle this in a few words or we can use details throughout the poem to allow the reader to ‘see’ what is going on. Some writers use more detail, some use less. What you choose to include and not include is important. If I say ‘halfway thru first period,’ maybe mention wobbly desks and a chalkboard, you have a picture of a school room.
Plot, Theme and Conflict kinda go together—what is the story? What is the point or main idea? How does the story move? In poetry we often talk of this as progression. What is the tension? How is it relieved? If I had a dry erase board, I would draw a triangle for you and talk about build up to the conflict, the conflict and the resolution.
The last part is the character. Who is involved? Is the story teller involved or are you watching it play out? In most poetry we only have a few lines to really give a picture of the people. I have used phrases like ‘eyes like a kicked beehive’ to describe someone—the reader may interpret this as someone just a bit shifty or crazy. How the character interacts in the story will tell us more about their character.
Already I have covered quite a bit and we have barely scratched the surface. I don’t want to make this harder than it really is—think back to the stories you were read as a kid, think about the guy you met at the supermarket, the girl at the park, your child or spouse, something that happened to them this week…tell us a story.
Set the scene, bring on the characters, tell us what happens to them—give us enough to see it play out and then get out. It can be fiction, it can be reality—it can even be a mix, because poets love to embellish the details just a bit. ha.
You may want to keep in mind Victoria’s lesson on verbs last week to inject action into your story and select ones that really set the tone of the piece.
Ok, enough talk, let’s get to writing. Tell me a story.
If you are new here, this is how it works:
- Write a poem (telling a story) and post it to your webpage
- Click on Mr. Linky below and enter your name and the direct url to your poem.
- Visit other poets that have joined in and comment, letting them know what you liked about their story. We are a community, not a daycare for your poems where you just drop them off and forget about them.
- Promote yourself on social media. If you use @dversepoets we will find you and be able to promote you as well.
- Have fun.
I will see you, out on the trail. ~Brian