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Weekly Prompt: Complicating Narrative Structure

2010 October 8
by Mia

Draft a traditional narrative poem that describes an event or experience from real life.  This doesn’t need to be derived from your own life—something from the news, or a book you’ve read is fine.  Focus on using detail and description to tell a story, accurately and with as much emotional clarity as possible.  Feel free to experiment with sound, image, and/or metaphor if it helps you better access the “truth” of the experience.

Return to your draft, taking into consideration how you might structure your narrative in a way that adds layers of meaning.  You may need to experiment with several options, but some ideas to consider are:

  • locate a companion text (or write another piece) that you can weave into the narrative of your draft in such a way that generates and complicates meaning
  • develop a second poem that describe a corollary event to the first, then weave the two together
  • break the poem into sections, each narrated from a different point of view
  • extract a few lyrical details from your draft and develop a refrain, to be repeated throughout the poem as a force of both unity and change

Spend some time working and reworking your poem, but give it the freedom to become an entirely different piece.  Also keep in mind that the objective of complicating structure is to deepen/layer meaning, and that these new meanings may not emerge until midway through the (re)structuring process.

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