Poetry in Prose

Prose is the go-to method when writ­ing fic­tion. It is basic text with­out regard to any struc­ture or the sound of words. It is clear, straight-forward, easy to under­stand, and is often the best method of deliv­er­ing a story. But, uti­liz­ing poetic devices and tech­niques can enhance your story, make it more effec­tive, and add a plea­sur­able ele­ment to your writ­ing.

Dante Alighieri

The Sound

The writ­ten word is visual and con­veys mean­ing just by the reader look­ing at it. But, it is still incred­i­bly con­nected to sound. For instance, don’t you, at least some­times, hear the sound of the words in your head when you are read­ing? Or, you have sounded a word out when try­ing to fig­ure out how to spell it?

By tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion that there is an almost auto­matic con­nec­tion to sound in writ­ten lan­guage, writ­ers can find new and inter­est­ing ways to enhance the read­ing expe­ri­ence by uti­liz­ing poetic devices that play with sound. Con­sider these:

  • Allit­er­a­tion – Rep­e­ti­tion of con­so­nant sounds, pri­mar­ily at the begin­ning of words.
    Exam­ple: Peter Parker (You see this a lot in comic book names.)
  • Asso­nance – Rep­e­ti­tion of vowel sounds.
    Exam­ple: I saw the lying man die after com­mit­ting the crime. (The I sound is repeated through­out the sentence.)
  •  Ono­matopoeia – Words that sound like what they mean.
    Exam­ple: Boom! Splat! Driz­zle, Splash.
  • Rep­e­ti­tion – Obvi­ous, but the same word or idea occur­ring mul­ti­ple times.
    Exam­ple: The phrase “So it goes,” in Slaughterhouse-Five.
  • Rhythm and Stress – The pat­tern and flow of sen­tences and para­graphs. This can include word, sen­tence, and para­graph length, as well as the pat­tern of stressed and unstressed syl­la­bles.
    Exam­ple: I am a man in need of food and drink as well as love. (The words in bold are stressed, and this pat­tern of unstressed, then stressed syl­la­bles makes for a par­tic­u­lar rhythm.

These sound devices and tech­niques might be espe­cially use­ful for names of peo­ple or places, as names will be repeated more often by the reader than other parts of the text. One mem­o­rable name from The Hal­loween Tree by Ray Brad­bury is Cara­pace Clav­i­cle Mound­shroud. A name that evokes dread and fun at the same time, and is also a lot of fun to say.

Depth and Meaning

But not all poetic devices are con­cerned solely with sound. Think of the following:

  •  Imagery – Lan­guage that seeks to invoke sen­sory details (visu­als, sounds, feel­ings, smells, tastes) in the reader’s mind.
  • Theme – A cen­tral idea to the story. Usu­ally every­thing else in the story implies or reflects the theme.
    Exam­ple: Hubris/pride is a theme of Franken­stein.
  •  Sym­bol­ism – Some­thing (objects, actions, peo­ple even) that rep­re­sents more than just itself.
    Exam­ple: The apple that Adam and Eve eat is more than just a piece of fruit.
  •  Tone — The atti­tude of the writer toward what they are writ­ing about.
    Exam­ple: A novel can have a comedic tone or a dra­matic tone. The way in which the story is told through word choice and how the author and/or nar­ra­tor feels about the sub­ject mat­ter of the story cre­ates a par­tic­u­lar feel­ing in the reader.
  •  Per­son­i­fi­ca­tion - Describ­ing inan­i­mate objects with ani­mate char­ac­ter­is­tics.
    Exam­ple: The sun smiled upon the town. (The sun is not lit­er­ally smil­ing, but the com­par­i­son evokes a gen­eral feel­ing of con­tent­ment in the town as the sun is described as if it were alive.)
  •  Irony - A dis­crep­ancy in what is told and what actu­ally is. It is often achieved when there are two par­ties (such as the reader and a char­ac­ter), and one is aware of some­thing that the other is not.
    Exam­ple: A char­ac­ter is idly going about their busi­ness unaware of the killer stalk­ing them (whom the reader is aware of).
  •  Hyper­bole - Essen­tially exag­ger­a­tion. It adds empha­sis and can be used to humor­ous or dra­matic effect.
    Exam­ple: She bab­bled on for days. (Well, she may be chatty, but in real­ity she only bab­bled on for twenty minutes.)
  •  Alle­gory - Abstract qual­i­ties rep­re­sented in char­ac­ters or events.
    Exam­ple: In Moby Dick, the hunt for the whale rep­re­sents deeper, philo­soph­i­cal ideas than just guys out to hunt a whale.
  •  Metaphor – Com­par­ing two dis­sim­i­lar but some­how con­nected things (with­out using the words like or as–that is sim­ile).
    Exam­ple: Their love was a dying sun in a con­demned galaxy. (The love is not lit­er­ally a dying sun, but it con­veys an idea of inevitable fail­ing to these par­tic­u­lar char­ac­ters’ love.

Not based solely on sound, these devices and tech­niques more read­ily trans­fer to fic­tion. Employ­ing them can often make your prose feel more poetic, with­out it sound­ing so.

And, of course, there are many more use­ful poetic devices (sound-based and not) than all of the ones listed here.

SO WHY

So, why do any of this? Well, it is a mat­ter of effec­tive­ness and the way the story is cre­ated in the reader’s mind. The shape, sound, pat­tern, phras­ing, and impli­ca­tion of words can con­vey a scene more vividly for a reader.

Pat­tern and sound for instance can cre­ate a more pleas­ant and clear read­ing expe­ri­ence for the reader as words and ideas flow read­ily and sim­ply when used with the rhetoric of poetry.

Poetic devices and tech­niques can also make for a dif­fer­ent fla­vor or feel in the read­ing expe­ri­ence; and maybe that fla­vor or feel relates well to the sub­ject mat­ter of your story. Take for exam­ple falling in love. It is a very poetic expe­ri­ence unto itself, even when not using any poetic devices. But, using them can bet­ter con­vey that feel­ing of falling in love to the reader.

With fic­tion, the writer’s con­cen­tra­tion is on con­vey­ing the story in the most effec­tive and effi­cient man­ner pos­si­ble. Often, writ­ers strive to make their prose as trans­par­ent as pos­si­ble, so that the mean­ing of the words appear in the reader’s head with­out much inter­fer­ence from the actual word. They do not focus on the audi­ble side to lan­guage or styl­ized, poetic tech­niques and devices.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t enhance your writ­ing, make it more effec­tive, or just add another ele­ment to it that you find appeal­ing by adding poetry to your prose. So, although not nec­es­sary to cre­ate a good story, it is one more use­ful tool to keep in mind when writ­ing prose.

In the Tall Grass by Stephen King & Joe Hill

In the Tall Grass

Dur­ing a cross-country trip, sib­lings Cal and Becky Demuth stop to inves­ti­gate the sounds of a child call­ing for help from the sur­round­ing field of grass.

What fol­lows is tense, excit­ing, and mys­te­ri­ous as the sib­lings become sep­a­rated, lost, and dis­ori­ented, not know­ing where the child is or how to make it back to the rest stop they parked at. In the field of grass, they encounter strange peo­ple and things that test the lim­its of their sanity.

in-the-tall-grass-ebook

This intense novella was col­lab­o­ra­tively writ­ten by Stephen King and Joe Hill. It car­ries the grim fore­bod­ing of some sim­i­lar King sto­ries, such as Chil­dren of the Corn and N., as well as the descent into mad­ness found in H.P. Love­craft. But, it feels dif­fer­ent enough. So if you like those, it’s fairly safe to assume you will like this.

 

The Set­ting

One of the high­lights of this story is the tall grass itself. It’s very much a char­ac­ter, tak­ing on sin­is­ter char­ac­ter­is­tics. It seem­ingly manip­u­lates the sib­lings like an intel­li­gent and sadis­tic trick­ster. The loom­ing, oppres­sive atmos­phere cre­ated heav­ily by the grass con­sumes the char­ac­ters and reader alike.

The tall grass has its own implied back-story, which adds to the mys­tery and depth of its char­ac­ter. Attrib­utes of incom­pre­hen­si­bil­ity and com­plete mali­cious­ness add to its haunt­ing nature. You get hints at how long it may have been the way it is and other col­or­ings of its mythol­ogy. Although fea­tured lit­tle, the rest stop makes for a great set­ting also—it’s always a great start­ing point for a hor­rific tale.

 

The Hor­ror

Both authors are experts work­ing ten­sion, pres­sure, and fear, and the reader gets a heavy, con­densed dose of that in this novella.

The pres­sure to escape, espe­cially since the sis­ter is preg­nant, is high. The ten­sion stays taught as the sib­lings strug­gle with want­ing to help the lit­tle boy, but not los­ing them­selves in the process. They want to find a way out of the grass and under­stand what is hap­pen­ing, but can’t.

The authors effec­tively por­tray the fear of being sep­a­rated, and the fear when your brain fully clicks over to real­iz­ing you can­not escape. And of the fear of incom­pre­hen­si­ble, over­whelm­ing men­ace and hor­ror, dizzy­ing the brain with the sur­real real­ity that ratio­nal­iza­tion just will not work in these situations.

Keep in mind, this story is intense and prob­a­bly not for every­one. It is very graphic, bru­tal, and grue­some at parts. But it is a creepy good time. Also, make sure to check out another col­lab­o­ra­tion by Joe Hill and Stephen King called Throt­tle.

A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman

A UNIQUE MIX

Weav­ing together hor­ror and a detec­tive story, Neil Gaiman crafts a unique and inven­tive short-story using his cus­tom­ary charm­ing voice. Specif­i­cally, A Study in Emer­ald com­bines the worlds of Sher­lock Holmes with the Cthulhu mythos.

a study in emerald

I expect almost every­one is famil­iar with Sher­lock Holmes, but for those not famil­iar with the Cthulhu mythos, it comes from writer H. P. Love­craft, who started the cos­mic hor­ror genre that encom­passes mon­sters beyond the under­stand­ing and rea­son­ing of mankind.

In this com­pos­ite, alter­nate world, tak­ing place in a ver­sion of Vic­to­rian Eng­land, we meet two very famil­iar char­ac­ters who are called in to help inves­ti­gate the mur­der of a mem­ber of the royal fam­ily. An ancient and mon­strous royal family.

ENGAGING

As the hunt for the killer begins and the mys­tery begins to unravel, the reader gains more and more insight into the his­tory and cul­ture of this odd world.

And enhanc­ing the detec­tive feel of the story, Gaiman writes the mys­tery so the reader can piece together and deci­pher the clues for him– or her­self. Cer­tain mys­ter­ies are never explic­itly revealed, so you will have to read with your think­ing cap on if you want to catch everything.

But it’s not all about the mys­tery. With twists and turns, the story never becomes stale or bor­ing. The mix of the two worlds def­i­nitely keeps things con­stantly fresh, and the char­ac­ters are witty and a joy to hear con­verse.

ITS GAIMAN

If you haven’t read Gaiman before, you are miss­ing out. The way he tells a story is just a delight to read. Enchant­ing and charm­ing. Dark and inven­tive. Fun and adven­tur­ous. A mas­ter fairy­tale sto­ry­teller with wild and mod­ern inventiveness.

The whim­si­cal voice of the nar­ra­tor main­tains a qual­ity of fun even in the dark­est moments, and his unique takes on clas­sic fan­tasy tropes keep things fresh.

FREE

Check it out and see if you can piece together all the mys­ter­ies. Either way, you’ll have fun along the way. And best of all, you can read it for free on his site at: http://www.neilgaiman.com/p/Cool_Stuff/Short_Stories

Laugh Out Loud! Top Five Humour Books For Children

The key to get­ting chil­dren inter­ested in read­ing is to keep them enter­tained and a great way of doing this is through humour. Some of the finest writ­ers of children’s books have used humour to get their read­ers inter­ested and every­thing from silly sto­ry­lines to funny facts can be per­fect to get a reader interested.

Books for chil­dren cover a wide num­ber of areas and gen­res and we’ve picked out five top funny reads that your lit­tle reader is bound to enjoy. They also make great gifts.

Gnomes, Gnomes, Gnomes

Gnomes, Gnomes, Gnomes

Illus­tra­tor: Vicki Gausden

One of the most recog­nis­able names in children’s books, Anne Fine, brings a fun adven­ture which sees gnome-obsessed Sam on an adven­ture with his favourite friends. A for­mer Children’s Lau­re­ate Anne Fine knows how to find the funny bone and it’s a very sweet tale of Sam plan­ning the per­fect send off for all his gnome friends, with the help of his sis­ter Alice.

 

Mad Iris

Mad Iris

Illus­tra­tor: Scoular Anderson

With over 70 books for chil­dren under his belt Jeremy Strong def­i­nitely knows what makes our kids laugh. Mad Iris fea­tures Ross and Katie’s mad­cap attempts to hide an escaped ostrich in their school toi­lets. From the off it doesn’t sound like they’re going to have much suc­cess and this is a fun read for chil­dren aged up to 8 or could be enjoyed with parents.

 

Mary’s Hair

Mary's Hair

Illus­tra­tor: Richard Watson

Best known as the sci-fi mas­ter­mind behind Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer also knows how to crack a good joke for younger chil­dren. In this story Mary sim­ply can’t stand her bushy, curly hair. Her answer is to sim­ply cut it off but Mammy isn’t happy about it and bans her from ever doing it again. Mary has to think of inge­nious new ways of exer­cis­ing her cre­ative ener­gies and there are plenty of laughs to be had along the way. We guar­an­tee you’ll feel sorry for the poor dog!

 

The Cup­cake Wedding

cupcakewedding

Illus­tra­tor: Nina de Polonia

Gillian Cross is another of those names who have writ­ten tons of pop­u­lar and enjoy­able books for chil­dren. She also knows how to write a good com­edy and this one is all about cakes. The Cup­cake Wed­ding is all about Mia’s wed­ding but the fun is soon halted when the young cou­ple announce they sim­ply can’t afford cake. Our hero, Mia’s sis­ter Holly, sim­ply can’t let this be true and does all she can to ensure that her sis­ter has not just one cup­cake but a whole tower of them. As the wed­ding day approaches there is more than the cakes to worry about.

 

The Two Jacks

twojacks

Illus­tra­tor: Ross Collins

Tony Brad­man intro­duces two boys with very sim­i­lar names but very dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties. We meet goody goody Jack Baker and bad boy Jack Barker and it’s the per­fect begin­ning for a funny escapade of mis­taken iden­ti­ties. One new teacher gets them con­fused and the pair of them finally see what the other lives like, with ever­last­ing consequences.

 

Keep­ing the kids laugh­ing and enter­tained as they build a love of books is a sim­ply great idea. Books can be fun and the sooner chil­dren learn this the better.

***

–This arti­cle is writ­ten by Alice. A book worm, she is espe­cially pas­sion­ate about chil­dren read­ing books.

Esoteric Fiction with Agostino Scafidi

We’ve been patiently wait­ing in line for years now! It’s been way too long since any­one has given us the go ahead to feel some relief and it’s high time we get our turn!
-The Invis­i­ble Papers
 The Invisible Papers by Agostino Scafidi

This is my sec­ond eBook. It’s what I call Eso­teric Fic­tion. What makes it eso­teric you might ask? Well, I have always had an inter­est in the topic of spir­i­tu­al­ity but there was a time when I was extremely curi­ous about the Occult, espe­cially Thelema and its pro­po­nent Aleis­ter Crow­ley. I was also fas­ci­nated by other Occult related top­ics, some being tarot, astrol­ogy, astral pro­jec­tion, and lucid dreaming.

Of all the things I’ve read in the field of Occultism, one thing I never failed to notice (which I also found to be quite enter­tain­ing), was how most of the lit­er­a­ture was writ­ten in a way that made it very hard to under­stand. It was almost as if the author tried their best to make their book illeg­i­ble while man­ag­ing to throw in just enough infor­ma­tion that is con­ve­niently shared between many other books in the field. What I’m say­ing may not make sense to you, or if you are famil­iar with occult lit­er­a­ture you might con­sider me a fool right about now. Whichever one it is, I really don’t care! I’ve read quite enough to be able to stand by my opin­ion. Fur­ther­more, if you’d like to inves­ti­gate this area for your­self I rec­om­mend tak­ing a look at Hecate’s Foun­tain by Ken­neth Grant and then get back to me. ;)

One thinks they’re learn­ing to ignore the igno­rance. They’ve got to remind them­selves about some­thing or another or else it will slip their mind and evade their mem­ory rather quickly. He or she must scrib­ble down reminders but if handy they’ll type their reminder into a dig­i­tal device, how­ever more often than not what one needs to keep in mind is just shy of being wor­thy of dig­i­tal storage!

-The Invis­i­ble Papers

So what does does all of what I just wrote have to do with The Invis­i­ble Papers? Well, I took the spirit of all the occult writ­ings I’ve enjoyed (as much as any­one could enjoy them) and applied it to my own cre­ativ­ity. I didn’t have another fic­tional story in me like I wrote in The Anchor That Stopped The World, my first eBook. So when I began writ­ing in an almost jour­nal like fash­ion for this one, some­how I was inspired to trans­form my entries into an eso­teric pre­sen­ta­tion. Did I suc­ceed? Who knows? It seems like the reviews I’ve gar­nered for it thus far agree with my inten­tion. I am just glad when­ever some­body else gets it, because per­son­ally, I’m happy with it.

_________________

The Anchor That Stopped The World

There’s a spe­cial place in my heart for this one, The Anchor That Stopped The World, my first eBook. I was so proud of it (and still am) that I call it a novel. I know it’s really more like a short novel (but I would never agree to call­ing it a novella!).

Once the haunt­ing sound­track had been set and the whole hor­ror show was set in motion, Mar­tin stood back and admired it for a few sec­onds. ‘Damn, that’ll teach ‘em.’ pat­ting him­self on the back. This sick­en­ing dis­play will serve as a trau­ma­tiz­ing repel­lant if any assailants were to return. There was one last thing Rizzo decided to add. He pro­ceeded to write a note and place it in view of any­one who might enter. This is what the note read:

-The Anchor that Stopped the World

 

The story is about Mar­tin Rizzo and the bad things that are hap­pen­ing to the peo­ple around him. A man who wakes up in unfa­mil­iar sur­round­ings and finds him­self cap­tive. The story unrav­els from there and involves var­i­ous orga­nized crime fac­tions. A Crime fic­tion, the story takes place in Montreal.

Grow­ing up in Mon­treal as an Ital­ian def­i­nitely exposed me to sto­ries about orga­nized crime. I guess it’s no sur­prise that I amassed enough infor­ma­tion about the sub­ject in a very pas­sive way. The inspi­ra­tion for this book came about in a burst, but the details of it all unfolded as I went along.

 

Alain, who was dri­ving, sta­tioned the SUV in a place they deemed covert enough. They all exited the vehi­cle and from the trunk grabbed gas masks and put them on. Each man car­ried a hand­gun with a few extra clips, a shot­gun and a semi-automatic rifle except for Benoît who had a tear­gas launcher instead of a shot­gun and Georges who had a hunt­ing rifle with a scope instead of a semi– auto­matic rifle. Mar­tin approached the fenced gate and cut a way of entry into it. Then, accord­ing to plan, Georges passed through it first and took up a van­tage point on top of a ship­ping con­tainer by climb­ing up a back­hoe loader.
-The Anchor that Stopped the World

 

Before The Anchor That Stopped The World, I had never writ­ten any­thing with such a word length. For many years I had pon­dered the idea of pos­si­bly writ­ing a book, but I never had what I felt to be a story idea sub­stan­tial enough to write so much. Nor did I have enough con­fi­dence. At the same time, I was quite pre­oc­cu­pied with my pur­suits as a musi­cian. How­ever, once I made a con­scious deci­sion to put my hopes of a career as a gui­tar player on the back­burner (but of course I still play for my own per­sonal enjoy­ment), it seemed like there sud­denly was all the time in the world for me to write.

This one is raw, its quick, and it’s not a refined piece of lit­er­a­ture. It’s exactly how it’s meant to be.

I am in the edit­ing stages of my third eBook right now, it will be called Dreams, Fic­tion and Me. I am very excited to get this one out there, but I am tak­ing my time ensur­ing I do the very best job I can. This book will be clas­si­fied as a para­nor­mal fic­tion. It is a col­lec­tion of short sto­ries based directly on dreams of mine. I recorded my dreams using a dream jour­nal. What that is, is basi­cally a pad of paper and a pen sit­ting by my bed­side. I’d wake myself up after each dream (as often as I could), and jot down what I could remem­ber. To achieve this wasn’t easy. I had prior expe­ri­ence in dream jour­nal­ing some years ago after read­ing a lot of Car­los Cas­taneda. Suf­fice it to say, I learned how to har­ness just enough abil­ity to amass enough mate­r­ial to put together what I believe to be a unique and inter­est­ing read.

***

  • Bio: Agostino Scafidi is an author, a gui­tar player and ama­teur pho­tog­ra­pher who was born and raised in Mon­treal, QC of Sicil­ian descent. As soon as he learned to write he began writ­ing sto­ries for fun. Also at a young age he received his first gui­tar, a nylon stringed clas­si­cal gui­tar. His child’s curios­ity would keep him inter­ested in play­ing from then on and at the age of 14 he bought his first elec­tric gui­tar. Agostino also began explor­ing the world of pho­tog­ra­phy around that time and his inter­est never died. In August of 2013 Agostino inde­pen­dently pub­lished his first novel The Anchor That Stopped The World in eBook format.