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Odile_Blud
02-10-2016, 05:35 AM
I've been wanting to write a narrative poem. I've read and own a few, and currently I've been reading Ovid's The Metamorphases, but I still don't think I know what I'm doing as far as writing a narrative poem myself. I've written regular poems and ballads, but this would be my first time attempting to write a narrative poem. I haven't set pen to paper yet, so maybe if I tried I could look at it, but I feel like I don't know what I'm doing.


Has anyone here written a narrative poem? Do you have any tips to offer?

CassandraW
02-10-2016, 05:40 AM
At least two of us have posted (or are in the process of posting) long narrative poems.

We have William Haskins' Thorn Forest (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?290649-The-Compleat-Thorn-Forest-(A-Gift-for-AW)), which is finished and quite wonderful.

And I'm in the process of writing one called Adrift on a Wine-Dark Sea (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?314085-Adrift-on-a-Wine-Dark-Sea-(part-V-added-1-28-16)) (loosely inspired by the Odyssey, as I note in my signature, though it is definitely not a straight retelling). As William did his, I'm attempting to post mine section by section as I complete it. I've posted five sections so far; the sixth will come soon.


ETA:

Tips? Hmm. I think this depends on how you work as a poet.

I didn't do a formal outline of mine, but I did know before starting out what my characters would be like and where I wanted to go with them. I also knew the large metaphors and symbolism I wanted to work into the poem, and had a clear sense of how the sections would proceed and roughly what they would include. I also had a good idea of the general tone and structure.

If you are going to share it as an in-progress poem, as William did and as I'm doing, then I think it is probably important you have some idea of most of that stuff up front; otherwise, the poem may lack coherence. If you don't plan to share it until it is finished, it's less important because you can change your mind and revise the earlier sections. I must say I'm finding it extremely challenging to do it as an in-progress poem, since I usually write the endings of my poems first and work backwards!

Kerosene
02-10-2016, 05:50 AM
It's a story, as in events in a character's life, in poetic form. So take a story and write it poetically.

I know that's not much help, but I take heavy liberties when it comes to poetry. Pick a story you wish to tell, pick a poetic form, and put them together.

CassandraW
02-10-2016, 05:53 AM
As you will see, neither William's nor mine uses a formal structure (though certainly there is structure), and both of us vary the structure from stanza to stanza to suit the tone of that particular section (though his all work together wonderfully and I'm doing my damndest to make mine hang together).

Odile_Blud
02-10-2016, 06:46 AM
At least two of us have posted (or are in the process of posting) long narrative poems.

We have William Haskins' Thorn Forest (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?290649-The-Compleat-Thorn-Forest-(A-Gift-for-AW)), which is finished and quite wonderful.

And I'm in the process of writing one called Adrift on a Wine-Dark Sea (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?314085-Adrift-on-a-Wine-Dark-Sea-(part-V-added-1-28-16)) (loosely inspired by the Odyssey, as I note in my signature, though it is definitely not a straight retelling). As William did his, I'm attempting to post mine section by section as I complete it. I've posted five sections so far; the sixth will come soon.


ETA:

Tips? Hmm. I think this depends on how you work as a poet.

I didn't do a formal outline of mine, but I did know before starting out what my characters would be like and where I wanted to go with them. I also knew the large metaphors and symbolism I wanted to work into the poem, and had a clear sense of how the sections would proceed and roughly what they would include. I also had a good idea of the general tone and structure.

If you are going to share it as an in-progress poem, as William did and as I'm doing, then I think it is probably important you have some idea of most of that stuff up front; otherwise, the poem may lack coherence. If you don't plan to share it until it is finished, it's less important because you can change your mind and revise the earlier sections. I must say I'm finding it extremely challenging to do it as an in-progress poem, since I usually write the endings of my poems first and work backwards!

I'm going for a mythology type poem. It started with a novel I began a year ago, and I enjoyed the mythology of the story's world so much that I decided I wanted to write it down in the style of narrative poem. I have the stories or at least an idea of where I want to go with them. I think it's how to structure it that I can't quite figure out.

CassandraW
02-10-2016, 06:55 AM
Good luck with it.

As to structure, that's really up to you. I didn't want to use a formal, unvarying meter and/or rhyme pattern. While I can certainly write like that that (I have written many poems in formal verse forms, including a several page poem in heroic couplets), I would find it constricting for my current poem. I wanted to be able to vary it to suit what was happening in each section. Sometimes I want it to sound dreamy, other times more ferocious, other times a bit pompous, sometimes swift and tumbling, and other times slow -- and I wanted that reflected in the meter and structure as well as in the words.

I also think the meaning is likely to suffer somewhat if one must work for pages and pages to stuff a story into a particular rhyme and meter pattern. In shorter poems this is not so true -- it's possible to have a gem of a sonnet with no unnecessary words and rhyme and meter that fall naturally and perfectly. But if we're talking 20 sections covering many pages -- yeah, you're going to be stuffing in some words or perhaps entire lines just to make the meter and rhyme pattern work. And I dislike doing that. I want to focus on the metaphors and imagery, without unnecessary clutter put in just to fit a form.

But that's me. Your mileage may well vary.