Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Nitty Gritty

On the First Offenders blog, crime novelist Alison Gaylin contrasted her daughter's early prowess for poetry with her own lack of knack for it. Opening the floor for comments, she asked, "Is there any type of writing you've always wanted to be able to do, but just can't?"

I commented:

I wanted to write spy fiction, create a character as loved as James Bond or Jack Ryan. I enjoy reading Reacher and Rain today, but the super-competent adventure character never seemed to ring true when I wrote it.

Crime fiction may come easier to me because everyone has at least thought about committing a crime, and the protagonists of crime novels don't have to be all that capable of committing the crime. I can also write dialogue-based stories as I'm very conscious of how people talk and the nonverbal stuff they reveal when they talk.

As a working poet, I find that many people who aren't into poetry have a specific idea what poetry is, usually associated with rhyme scheme or number of lines. And while poetry does require focus, it can be informal. Finding the truth behind a poem's subject and holding to that truth is the most important thing, just as in any type of critical or creative writing.

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