April 25, 2008

poetry for character development 6

Your characters have points of view about specific issues in their lives, in their larger community, their family and in the world. Everyone argues - no matter how saintly - even if they won't have that argument aloud, they have it in their head. Everyone has their idea of how to solve a problem - sometimes the solution benefits them personally, sometimes it benefits everyone.

How does character approach problem solving? How do they argue? Do they always have to win? Do they think of others or just themself?



The Bop is a form of poetic argument consisting of three stanzas, each stanza followed by a repeated line, or refrain, and each undertaking a different purpose in the overall argument of the poem.

The first stanza (six lines long) states the problem, and the second stanza (eight lines long) explores or expands upon the problem. If there is a resolution to the problem, the third stanza (six lines long) finds it. If a substantive resolution cannot be made, then this final stanza documents the attempt and failure to succeed.

Have your lead character use this form to explain a current problem in their life and how they plan to resolve it. Then write another poem from the perspective of the person creating that problem for your lead.

Steal the form from the poem below for structure.

Bop: Haunting
By Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

In the evening she comes, her same unsatisfied self,
with the hard, smug look of salvation. Mama,
stop bothering me. When we argue, she says
what you’re saying is not scriptural.
You need to get back in your Bible.

In one dream, I slap her. I’m tired of her mouth.

I hate to see the evening
Sun go down

Yesterday, I dreamed a vampire
held my wrist, dared me to wake
to her, corporeal, stolid. Mama,
was that you? I refused to touch
her body in the casket.
At the gravesite I refused everything
but dry-eyed silence,
her picture in my hand.

I hate to see the evening
Sun go down

This is what I get for conjuring—
Mama, after me all night,
fussing about the holy ghost
when what I need is sleep.
But last night I lay dreamless.
I didn’t sleep sound.

I hate to see the evening
Sun go down

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