Sunday, August 30, 2015

Say My Name Or Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?


In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet is quoted as saying,

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
            By any other name would smell as sweet;

While Shakespeare does make a point about your name not defining who you are, I’m certain that if a rose were called burlap or the velvet flower, you might feel differently about it.

            This is a post is about names. Specifically, your character’s names. A character’s name is the reader’s first introduction to the person they’ll be spending the next 300 to 400 pages with.

For example, Remington Stevens III might be a trust fund baby and Clover Sunshine Jones might be the daughter of hippies. There is so much a name can tell us right off the bat. And each name carries its own energy. Even though you might have chosen carefully, sometimes a name can get away from you.

Now, I’ll be the first person to tell you that I’m neurotic about my character names (just as my critique group!). If the energy doesn’t feel right for the story, I chuck it or use it for a street name or a toss away character. Even then, sometimes it doesn't work.

I’ve been struggling lately with my prequel. The story is a little villainous, if  not, unique. It made sense, but it just wasn’t working. After talking with my critters (critique partners), I realized that my protagonist was to blame. She was young and bratty, self-serving, and insanely jealous. I had named her Nalo, which is a wonderful name for her. She was strong and self-assured, and knew what she wanted. But Nalo, proved to have an energy that I wasn’t prepared to deal with and she was taking over my story in a negative way.

If I had cast her as the villain, she would’ve been perfect, but she needed to be a likable protag and she was telling me, over and over, that she was a bad guy. Damnit. So after some brainstorming, I decided to cast “Nalo” aside and start new.

The new protag’s name is Hasana and she is working out much better. Compared to Nalo, her name sounds softer and looks more pleasing to the eye. She sounds a bit older and more refined. Perfect for the fairy princess that she is. My critters agree that the change was for the better.

So the moral of the story is, don't be afraid of the energy surrounding your names. When its right, the story will unfold naturally and the protag will be everything you want him/her to be. And don’t be upset if you have to change a main character’s name. The switch up could be just what you need to save your story.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Lost and Found Again or I'm Back!

After a bit of a hiatus, I feel that I need to return to this blog. Life happens when you're making plans, and a baby, and a job transition.

I can't guarantee I'll be very consistent to start out with, but I have to start somewhere. There is incredibly TOO MUCH stuff to tell you all. I've been busy.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Prompt Assignment or To Pen a Villanelle

Other than the pantoum, the villanelle is my favorite poetic form. There is something about the form and rhyme scheme that stretches my ability at word play and phrase construction to get my point across.
The form is an old Italian folk song, usually sung by the people who lived in the countryside. It has maintained its poetic structure since the 17th century. Now that's something. Dylan Thomas's "Do not go gentle into that good night," is one of the most popular villanelles you'll find.

The villanelle as a basic aba rhyme scheme with three lines per stanza and five stanzas. The sixth stanza has four lines with an abaa pattern. It takes a little work to write something that conforms to the structure, especially the rhyming. But with a subject that feels right for you, everything should fall into place.

After having so much fun with the Merry Sisters of Fate prompt contest, I wanted to recapture that energy with a picture of my own choosing. Below is "The Unicorn and the Maiden" by Boris Vallejo and my villanelle.

Huntress

Evil infuses every step that I take,
Though I try to keep my thoughts pure.
Entering these woods is a damning mistake.

Salvation is not for those who forsake;
those who capture unicorns with virginity lures.
Evil infuses every step that I take.

I am not alone on this trek I make.
The hunters follow, wanting a horn to procure.
Entering these woods is a damning mistake.

Selling my soul for a pocket of coin, makes my stomach ache.
Every capture unravels the realm of magic, I am sure.
evil infuses every step that I take.

The unicorn appears and my confidence shakes,
my touch is a disease from which there is no cure.
Entering these woods is a damning mistake.

There is more than this innocent life at stake;
waiting for me is eternal perdition to endure.
Evil infuses every step that I take.
Entering these woods is a damning mistake.

Fun and Fancy Free Verse or Exploring My Softer Side

Aha, you say, a free verse poem is not a rarity like the other poems you’ve presented, Nicki. Yes, you are right, but for the beginner poet, free verse can be the easiest form to write.

There is no rhyme scheme, no meter, no sense of a rigid mold into which you must cram your work of art.
The popular practice of free verse poems date back to 19th Europe, in
particular, France. Free verse is a very organic poem based on natural breaks in speech, the intensity of your mood, or just how you want the words to appear on the page.

This form can start out as an exercise in prose that is broken up to create poetic lines and phrasing. Free verse, for me, is like writing in a diary. A place to cleanse my soul…or whatever. To read an excellent example of free verse poems, check out Hilda Doolittle, Allen Ginsberg, John Ashberry, Sylvia Plath, and Frank O'Hara, just to name a few. There are many more poets worthy of mention, but you'd be here all day. Not that I mind.

While I am a dark poet, I do have a romantic, sensitive side. Here is a poem I wrote in college, exploring that cautious adventure of falling in love.

Secret Serenade

They breathed softly in the words you nervously stuttered
   In the longing glance that your eye shyly gave
   In the touch that made m tremble

The whispers of your buried secrets
Singing the lyric that your heart once guarded
The tender song that you wished to keep still

Melodies of sun-soaked laughter transition
Into moon-laced walks of harmony
A sweet chorus that danced freely through your kiss.

Embedded in silken ruby leaves
Lay a symphony of secrets
Revealing that you are  


 falling


                                                    falling


                                                                                                     falling 
    
       deep within your heart’s embrace
       deeper inside the music of your soul
       deeply in love

And since I can't keep well enough alone, here a bonus poem for your reading pleasure.

Admirer

would you believe me if the words never came?
if they trembled on my slippery tongue
hoping that the thread of my breath
would pass them
and leave them untouched

naked
                           and
                                             petrified

of the abduction: a painful seizure
that would transport to your ear
the components of unrequited adoration. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Triolet: A Poem of Three or A Rare Form of Expression

Triolet

A triolet (tree-o-lay) is an eight line, French poem from the 13th century. Medieval poets such as Jean Froissart and Eustace Deschamps nurtured this short and sweet poetic form. It is one of the rarer forms you'll find out in the world.
 
Triolet means "three" as in the first line repeats three times. There are also 2 rhymes and 2 repeating lines.

While most triolets are playful and cheerful, often celebrating love, I have taken a darker path with mine. I apparently have a gift for dark and broody, though, I'm no Sylvia Plath. And yes, I was also having a rough day.

Rhyming pattern

Line 1 repeats in the 1st, 4th, and 7th line.
Line 2 repeats in the 2nd and 8th line.

Lines 1, 3, 4, 5 have the same rhyme scheme, while lines 2, 6, 8 echo each other.

To add a twist to your own poem try,
1)   using a slant rhyme instead of a perfect rhyme. Slant rhymes echo similar sounds, such as “time and fine.” A perfect rhyme is well, perfect, like “fell and tell.”

2)   Varying some of the words in the repeating lines. For example, the line in my poem “treading a fine line” can be altered into “treading a silk line.”

This form is too short to stress about, so have fun!

daybreak

treading a fine line
between saving myself or slaying my dream
faithless existence for wishes of mine
treading a fine line
over chasms of prayers waiting to align
a criss-cross of fingers over jagged seams
treading a fine line
between saving myself or slaying my dream

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lost and Found or A Poem I Didn't Intend to Write

A Found poem can be a list, pieces of conversation, or newspaper articles — something that has a poetic tone or elicits the same emotional response as a poem. If the original intent of your Found poem is to be poetic, then it is not true.
The beauty of this form is that you find a treasure amidst the clutter of your life. Also, there is no altering (adding, deleting, or omitting) this poem. To keep it in its pure form is to stay true to the heart of the Found.
My Found came from a short story I wrote. Reading down the left margin, I used the 1st word of every line. This is the result:

Rebellion

You know, World
Perfectionism befriends children

Your insides scream your name
Shut up.
Ignore it.
Tired of perfect.

We all want that.
Learn from  vixen smiles and
Smoky cold sentences

Ambition loves you
Away from disappointment
Slurred secrets in someone’s yard
Don’t matter

Impurity picks you up
Frantically dissolving innocence
Rebellion crawled under her eyes and
Sat next to me
Can you see a silver lining?

What have you "Found" lately?

October: A Month of Poetry or Ways to Celebrate My Birthday

My true introduction to poetry happened in my 6th grade English class. We had a poetry section, that I found quite fun. I still have the little book of poems I wrote and bound as part of our final project.
Here is my haiku from back in the day:
Basking

Small, plump chipmunks sleep
in the warm sun, slipping through
the windows of trees.

(yes, I did write this when I was 11. Good, huh?)

Poetry is a form a writing that conveys emotions, world events, even humor, in a way that is lost in a longer narrative. The short space and sometimes the rigid form, in my opinion, is what gives a poem its power. To boil all those ideas and feelings into the essence of what you’re trying to say is an art in and of itself.

I took a poetry class in college and really found my stride. I pushed myself to write about things I’d never experienced, explore the topics I loved, and critique the work of my fellow classmates. I grew as a poet that semester and miss the delving into those lesser known forms on a daily basis.
My intent for October poetry month*, is to rediscover a piece of my writing persona that I have neglected. I hope that you learn something here or are inspired to pen your own poems. Either way, lets have fun! Feel free to participate in the comments, if you’d like.
I’ll be using The Teacher’s & Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms edited by Ron Padgett as reference.
*My birthday is this month, so why not celebrate with some writing exercises?