Saturday, 9 February 2013

So What? Writing

I have been thinking for a while about So What? poems.  I went to a workshop facilitated by Fiona Sampson and she said, as an editor, she gets many poems sent that are beautiful words, well crafted but at the end of the day, she has to say "So What?"

My dog died. - So What?
I saw a lion - So What?
It's raining in Dublin - So What?

A poem should say something new, something that connects with the reader. It is sad that your dog died but how does that affect me? Why should I care in the long run? How would that make me rethink something I have always assumed?
I saw a lion.
You saw a lion, in a zoo, on a safari. I imagine it was magnificent but so what? You saw it and passed on.
I saw a lion eating a giraffe.
Slightly more interesting but still irrelevant to me, the reader.
I saw a golden maned lion gnawing on a dead giraffe.
More visual but...
I am a lion and I am eating a giraffe
Is there anything gained here from using the first person?
I saw a lion eating a giraffe and it reminded me of my brother when he was a teenager.

Hm...keep going...
I saw a lion eating a giraffe; it was like the butcher's shop on the high street
The lion's powerful paw held the giraffe down;it was the same size as the paperweight my father used to anchor his notes
OK, this isn't a poem, none of these is a poem but one may be the start. There has to be something in there to shake off the So What? question.

So What? is also relevant to short stories and other forms, radio pieces, plays, novels even.

Do you have pieces that you think do quite work and you can't quite put your finger on why? Try the So What? question.


Fran Caldwell said...

And just try selling a quiet, non-violent or blood-drenched novel...

Emerging Writer said...

Hi Fran, have you asked your own So What? question on your novel?