Using Verse To Deepen Your Characters

I made an amazing discovery!

I found a new writing tool. When reading the latest draft of my middle-grade fantasy I found my main character still needed more depth. In a quandary, I played solitaire, perused Verla Kay’s boards, Facebook, writer blogs, and returned to my draft with no new inspiration.

Until, I played around and wrote a few pages of verse from the POV of my main character. Now, I know I talk about verse a whole lot for someone who loves to write fantasy, but I find studying the tight writing, line breaks, and use of white space so inspirational. Sydney (my antagonist) was annoyed along with me and she screamed, “HEAR ME.”

So I wrote, and listened—harder. After a few pages of writing verse with Sydney, she came in loud and clear.

WOW, I thought. Who knew?

No, for real, I wondered, does anyone else know about this tool? Probably, but I’m all about sharing. I live for those “AHA” moments when things click into place. So now, when I’m in a scene and need to dig deeper to find out what emotions are churning inside any character, I write a page or two in verse.

Below is some of the verse I wrote when I had the epiphany and now they have found a home in the opening of my first chapter.

Everyone leaves,
in the end.

And, each time
a little piece of me
with them.

I wonder if
someday, there'll be nothing
of me

A Thought Provoking Book

My latest favorite read: THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, by Jay Asher has kept me thinking for days.

This book grabbed me so completely I kept it beside me for the two days it took to finish. In the car, THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, sat in my passenger seat. I read while waiting at red lights. I read while sitting in the Starbucks drive-up line. I read while rolling in traffic (Eek! No I didn't rear end the car in front of me--but it was close.)

Sleep? HA-HA, no way. I had no more control over "pushing stop" (or rather closing the book) on Hannah's story than Clay, one of the main characters, had. Not until I “heard” all thirteen reasons for why Jay Asher's other main character, Hannah Baker, took her life. This young adult book is expertly told from two point of views, simultaneously. Before Hannah commits suicide she documents (on cassette tape) the events and the people who took part in leading her to the cliff's edge. As we "listen," with Clay, to Hannah's recorded voice and follow the map she's left behind, we re-live her last years. We experience disgust, sadness, and regret right along with Clay. Each event is worse than the last. All are connected and create the "snow ball effect" which leads Hannah to suicide.

Jay Asher leaves us, or me anyway, in the end still asking why. Why did Hannah do it? A question, I imagine, all must feel when someone they know or love commits suicide. A question which can't be answered in a satisfactory way, ever, no matter how lengthy a letter or how many cassette tapes are left behind to explain their reasoning. Can you imagine ever saying, oh, right, okay then, that makes perfect sense now? No, me neither. But at the same time it made me think how much we don't know about what goes on with those around us. What demons they face.

Without preaching he leaves us knowing we have responsibilities, to ignore rumors, to make an offer of friendship, or just simply say hello. I'll stop. I could go on. And on some more. But I'll say just one more thing. READ THIS BOOK. It's one of those that stays with you.

Come back and tell me what you took away from the book once you're done.
For more on Jay, visit his blog here.