Six reasons to write narrative in poetry

Almost every day I wonder if I should have written my science-fiction story in prose, as is usual with fiction. Instead I wrote all three books as free verse, in a long narrative poem. Many people do not like to read poetry — too complicated, too intense, too much like high school. Poetry books, even those that tell stories, do not sell well. There is not even a category in Amazon books for ‘Poetry, Science Fiction’. Poetry is boring.

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I could have written my books as prose. I have written four books (unpublished) of fiction, so I know a bit about the process. If I was given the choice of reading a tale in poetry or prose, which would I choose? I only know, the story of Odymn and the Slain, set on the planet Meniscus, was made for poetry.

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Meniscus Crossing The Churn cover painting (3)

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1. The strange world of Meniscus needs strange description. This is a world where all is viewed through a purple mist.  The smell of cinnamon dominates. Water flows upward not down, and floats in droplets in the air. The alien language spoken on Meniscus is itself filled with alliteration and strange sounds. The word choices of poetry help the reader take the journey to Meniscus.

Bubbles rise, meet surface,

swell to domes, stretch and burst.

Disperse in elastic, floating drops.

 

Droplets hover

above the sheen of mosses,

between emerald and velvet ferns,

fronds flat and freckled.

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2. Poetry allows terse story-telling. A lot of information can be packed into a few lines. Description is sometimes sacrificed, but the reader, embedded in the story, can fill in the detail. Sometimes the world created by the dual effort of writer and reader is more complex and complete.

A slear-snake, trolling for prey.

Nostrils expel viscous breath, visible

in the light of the rising moons.

 

Putrid exhalation,

sulphides and zootoxins,

evolved to paralyse prey.

Three eyes, oozing.

 

Her muscles respond,

propel her forward.

Side-wind and a claw

rakes her back.

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3. The brevity of poetry suits the communications of the characters. The Slain, a genetically modified human with nictitating eyelids and the ability to channel energy to his armour, speaks rarely and briefly. Odymn sometimes jabbers she talks so much. The gaps and rhythms of poetry allow spaces in their conversation, the way white space on the page relieves our eyes.

“Odymn,” she says.

“Named by my father.

 

“Now you,” and points at his chest.

 

Blue sparks snap to the tip of her finger.

Faint vibration through hand, along arm,

deep into torso.

 

Penetrating stare.

Lazy double blink.

Membrane and lashes close and open.

 

“OK. I’ll choose a name for you.

Daniel. Or James.

Not quite right, too common.

 

“You need an alien name.

Something deep from Dock-winder mythology.

Amblyn, god of fire. Or De-al, water-weld.”

 

Steady stare. Double blink.

One hand lifts. One finger raised to lips.

Be silent.

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4. Odymn, the main female character, has a skill to help her survive on Meniscus — she is a practitioner of parkour. Parkour is a way of moving through the landscape with running, jumping and climbing. The flow of poetry helps with the description of the fluid movements of parkour.

Dismount from the tree.

Trunk to trunk and flip forward.

Leap and struggle to stick the jump.

Vault and pivot.

 

Loves the silence,

quiet impact of feet, slap of fingers.

Ballerina toes thumping the stage.

Hands touching the surface of planet.

'parkour through the wood'test

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5. When I write in free verse, I leave out most of the little words, the, and, a …  There is not much room for adverbs or unnecessary adjectives. The nouns and verbs tell the story. Actions read as more immediate, fast-paced and urgent.

Fingers ripping fabric.

Knee on her throat.

Violated by mouths and teeth,

dragged backwards over cobblestones.

Rising mist of red.

Fabric and legs splayed.

Skull-cracking fist.

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6. Love scenes are fun to write in poetry. The reader uses every word to suggest a hundred more. Even a word like ‘peel’ becomes sensuous, embedded with meaning.

He lifts her, removes

every barrier between them.

Cold copper and silken ribbons

peeled away.

 

His skin a brief pause

before muscles

and movement.

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'uneasy sleep'.jpg

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I have considered writing other books in the series in prose. But when I do, I remember what is sacrificed. Brevity, depth, intensity, strangeness and urgency are components I want to keep in the story of Odymn and the Slain. Occasionally, I can relax the poetry to write dialogue, for example. But I always want to return to a place where the reader can walk through a village on Meniscus and experience the surroundings in brief impressions, as we do in reality.

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Narrow streets.

Smooth stucco, mossy stairs.

Aroma of brewing zed.

Passageways exhale

solace, comfort, repose.

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All my best,

Alexandra

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book give-away

Greetings earthlings. Would you like to know more about the planet where I live?

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One way is to read any of the Meniscus Series by Alexandra Tims.

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On Meniscus we have:

three-eyed snakes, twelve feet long;

crawling carpets of carnivorous vegetation;

genetically altered humans with nictitating amethyst eyes.

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You could buy the book … OR … You could win one! I am giving away four copies of Meniscus: South from Sintha at Goodreads from August 6, 2017 to August 14, 2017. No down-side … if you win (selection made by Goodreads), I’ll mail you, free of charge, a signed copy of my book. See the details below. Best of luck.

And stay away from carpets of moss.

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'attack of club-mosses' both halves

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

 

Meniscus

by Alexandra Tims

            Giveaway ends August 14, 2017.

See the giveaway details

at Goodreads.

 

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best always,

Alexandra

Free book!

Meniscus: South from Sintha is FREE on Amazon (worldwide) for the next five days (June 1 to June 5).

Odymn wants the Slain to return his ‘aquisitions’ (a wolf-like Kotildi, a Grell-swallow chick, a beautiful human woman, a Dock-winder child and another genetically-enhanced Slain) to their homes. The Slain wants to try, to make Odymn happy, but the task might not be so easy!

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South from Sintha

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1544103018

 

'Odymn and the Kotildi'

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Copyright Alexandra Tims 2017

New book in the series!

The second book in the meniscus series is now available on Amazon, in Kindle and paperback formats! Meniscus: South from Sintha tells the continuing story of Odymn and the Slain.

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Scan_20170522

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On a planet where Humans are slaves, Odymn is free. Her companion, the Slain, was once a trader in sentient beings. Now, for love of Odymn, he has agreed to change his ways and to return his former captives to their homes. Together, he and Odymn travel the urban alleyways and wilderness woodlands of the Southern District of Prell-nan, risking everything. They must battle wild life, outsmart power-hungry Dock-winders and dodge the grasp of ruthless Gel-heads. But in spite of good intentions, will the Slain be able to right the wrongs of the past? Or will the consequences of his actions outweigh the good he and Odymn want to do?

In the second of the Meniscus series, South from Sintha tells the continuing story of Odymn and the Slain. Odymn loves her silent companion, but trying to help his former captives may be a challenge she did not anticipate.

You can try to mend the broken, to right the wrongs of the past, but sometimes you can`t go back.

I hope you enjoy this new book!

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Copyright 2017 Alexandra Tims

Meniscus: the series

I hope you will enjoy visiting the planet Meniscus, the setting for my six part science fiction adventure/romance series. The first book in the series is Meniscus: Crossing The Churn (March 2017).

 … After an encounter with a wandering trader, a young woman escapes squalor and servitude with his help. As he helps her elude her former masters, she feels she has a hope for a new life. Her skills at parkour and foraging fit her well for a dangerous subsistence-based life and, in spite of his refusal to speak, she feels she has met her soul-mate. Follow Odymn and the Slain in their travels through the desert and wooded landscapes of Meniscus and discover their destination!

Meniscus: Crossing the Churn is available at Amazon.ca in paperback and Kindle formats here.

what are elginards?

elginard

wingless insect, native to Meniscus; moves by floating on air currents

Have you wondered about those two black eyes tucked on the right side of my header image? They belong to an elginard, a woodland insect common in my stories about Meniscus.

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'floating elginards'lightpaperback

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The elginard is recurring symbol in my Meniscus books. It stands for those who do not feel in control of their lives, who have no idea where tomorrow will take them. The consideration of fate versus determinism is an underlying theme in the books. The elginards are inspired by the wooly aphids that drift on the wind in autumn in New Brunswick.

Some poetic excerpts about the elginard, from the Meniscus books:

From effervescence, droplets coalesce,

drift like wingless elginards, 

purposeless, ephemeral.

………………(Book 1: Crossing The Churn)

 

Air still.

Elginards hover.

Each with a flourish

of feathery hairs

to keep them aloft.

………………(Book 2: South from Sintha)

 

Now she watches drifting elginards.

Like woolly-aphids on Earth,

facsimiles of snowflake,

predicting winter.

………………(Book 3: Winter by the Water-Climb)

 

Wounded yarnel

drips sap to elginards.

Waits for breezes to launch them 

to purposeless lives.

……………….(Book 3: Winter by the Water-Climb)

Sparks from the fire

lift, mingle with wingless

elginards, float

on wisps of midnight.

……………….(Book 4: The Village at Themble Hill)

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Scan_20170520 (2)

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Copyright 2017 Alexandra Tims

Welcome to ‘off planet’!

Welcome to the worlds I love to write about. And to the worlds I love to paint and draw.

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I am a writer, primarily a poet.  I am also an artist who illustrates my work.

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Scan_20170508
‘alien moons’, acrylic, Alexandra Jane Tims, 5″ x 8″, May 2017

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I am author of a science-fiction adventure series. The first in the series Meniscus: Crossing The Churn is available in paperback and Kindle additions on Amazon here.

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As I have published my work, I have realised – some of my writing and illustrations do not belong on earth. They should be out there, available to those of you who share my love of space travel and encounters with new worlds. This blog will help me reach out to you and share my ‘off planet’ work!

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Copyright 2017 Alexandra Tims