Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why write a novel in verse?

One of the challenges of writing in verse is making sure the story NEEDS to be told in this literary form. Otherwise there is, I feel, a high risk of a book that seems arbitrary, flowery, or just not-quite-right. I think hard about using this form and actually write my verse novels in prose (or try to) to make sure that my story, its themes and images, couldn't be captured just as well using this more traditional structure.  Here are four examples of verse novels where it seems clear to me that the author was very thoughtful about his/her medium and got it so right!  BTW, I am obviously a Sharon Creech fan :)

an autobiography/memoir in verse by the inimitable Lee Bennett Hopkins

the somewhat controversial Newbery winner is an illustrated verse
"character study" (SLJ) about two 14-year-olds by Lynne Rae Perkins

a heartwarming homage to poetry and canines 
running, loss, and life captured in verse in this jewel-like novel


Lenore Appelhans said...

I've only ever read one novel in verse - one by Ellen Hopkins. I should definitely read more of them.

Erin said...

I recently read "Exposed" by Kimberly Marcus and loved it! I could never write a novel in verse, but I enjoy reading them and admiring those people who can.

Erin @ Quitting My Day Job

storyqueen said...

The beautiful thing about Love That Dog is that every year, I see this book inspire children to try writing a novel in verse. (So it is well loved by kids who take chances in their writing.) Also, every year, reluctant readers find this book and fall in love with reading for the first time. (So it is well loved by students who haven't been successful with reading.)

A book that appeals to so many is a great book.


GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

I love verse novels. I think Sonya Sones is great at writing in verse!

Stasia said...

Thanks for stopping by, Lenore, and (btw) I can't wait to read your debut next year!
Haven't read Exposed, Erin, but it's on my tbr list now--thanks!
With you on Love...Dog, Storyqueen--I am a huge Sharon Creech fan.
And agreed on Sonya Sones, too, GreenBean!

Shari said...

I think being able to do this is awesome, but I'm not sure it's something I could actually pull off. Kudos do those that can!

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Stasia, I'm so happy your ballet story will be told in verse. I think of all those years I spent at the barre, the way dance lives inside and our bodies are our medium. Can't wait to "feel" the whole thing.

I also tried writing my verse novel as prose, but I couldn't get close enough to my character or her situation. Verse became the most honest way I could tell her story.

Sharon Creech said...

How nice to find your blog and these notes on verse novels!

Stasia said...

Yeah for verse novels (and ex-ballerina writers) Caroline!

And, Sharon, THANK YOU SO MUCH for stopping by my blog. My sons, who've read LOVE THAT DOG, WALK TWO MOONS, RUBY HOLLER..., were very impressed! And, seriously, I bragged :)