I've been doing this for a whopping two months, so I'm still finding my way. Â Thank you for being good sports!
Next week will be a review week. Â Pick one of the prompts below. Â Take two weeks. Â (I know I keep saying there's no deadlines and there aren't. Â But feel free to take two weeks...) Â Starting June 17, the poetry and prose prompts will alternate with each other, one each week.
Thanks for playing the game, everyone! (Hey! We need a name for the game! Â Please let me have your suggestions!) Doug
This weekâ€™s prose narrative point of view is what our text calls Memoir/Observer Narration, but lets call it â€œCharacters I Have Known.â€ Â The parameters are these:
- The narrator is a specific person,
- speaking in the first person â€œIâ€,
- but the main focus is on another person.
The first thing you have to think about is: who is the narrator, and how do they know what they know? Think about the Sherlock Holmes stories, narrated by Doctor Watson, Holmesâ€™ assistant and confidant.Â Think how much life Watsonâ€™s involvement and point of view add to the Holmes stories!
The narrator can be a confidant like Watson, an uninvolved eyewitness, or something in between like a relative, psychiatrist, lover, or chance acquaintance.Â The narrator may be directly involved in the proceedings, may be affected by the events, or may not have any stake in them at all.
Readers have already submitted really fine examples of the technique to this column:
This weekâ€™s poetic device is the symbol. Symbolism is a complex subject; whole books have been written on the subject.
For the purpose of this discussion, a symbol is an image which signifies the theme of your poem in some way.Â The symbolic value may be moral, historical, or emotional. Â A symbol can be as varied as a cross, a limousine, the White House, or a bunch of balloons. The general meaning of the symbol should be well known. This, as with the allusion, is where the symbol gets its power from.
(The best metaphors, on the other hand, make unexpected associations:Â â€œShe the sickle; I, poor I, the rakeâ€¦,â€ Theodore Roethke, â€œI Knew A Womanâ€.)
The symbol can be a well-known abstract symbol with unambiguous emotional content, such as a cross or a swastika (Sylvia Plathâ€™s â€œDaddyâ€).
It can be a historical reference or literary allusion. Â In Yeatsâ€™ â€œThe Second Comingâ€, the way he substitutes the image of the Sphinx for the second coming of Christ lends the poem enormous symbolic value and emotional power.
A symbol can be something as subtle as the environment of the poem.Â In Robert Frostâ€™s â€œDesert Places,â€Â the barren, snow-covered desert symbolizes the narratorâ€™s loneliness.Â In my â€œThe Ringâ€,Â the boxing ring symbolizes the conflict between the narrator and his psyche.
Poetry: Write a poem (or story or essay) which uses a symbol.
Prose: Write a story (max. 1000 words) using the narrative point of view of Memoir/Observer Narration (i.e. on the subject of â€œA Character I Have Knownâ€) .
- PutÂ SunWE in the title and tags.
- Indicate in some way which devices/techniques/figures I should be paying attention to if itâ€™s not self-evident (e.g. if itâ€™s for an earlier prompt).
- Deadlines are open.Â This prompt does not turn into a pumpkin a week from today.Â If youâ€™re piece isnâ€™t done by next Sunday, get it in when you can.Â This is supposed to be fun.
- I will comment on every submission and include a link to it in the next column.
- If you would like a little more academic critique--but still very friendly and positive--include the word "rigorous" in your post (e.g. "rigorous critique wanted").
Here are the responses to last weekâ€™s prompt.Â Let me know if I missed yours.Â I hope you can take a few minutes and read some of the other submissions.
There are also lots of cute hyperboles in the comment thread of last weekâ€™s column.
Â© 2012 Douglas J. Westberg. All Rights Reserved. Â Please share this on Gather.com, and elsewhere on the web by means of a link back to this page, but please do not copy. Â Doug's latest book is The Depressed Guy's Book of Wisdom from Chipmunka Publishing.
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