Poem Tryouts: It’s All About Perspective

18 Nov

7:49 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Best of You sung by Foo Fighters

Hello there! Brrr! The weather looks like it has decided to get serious. Pour yourself something hot (If your time zone is at the other end of the day, consider hot apple cider and brandy), pull up your computer and start the grey cells going. NaNoWriMo is on the downward slope. Keep your eyes on the barn door. You’re heading home now.

mountain far

far away

Let us consider perspective. Artists know it’s all about perspective. When describing a locale, people, and events, we need to keep in mind [more so in fiction than poetry], that in writing about a scene, based solely on distance and angle, we can’t apply the same degree of detail to everything. Our characters, especially whoever is narrating, can’t know many things.

Consider a character, or a person you know. The two of you are sitting side by side in a car. What do you see of the other person? The two of you get out and continue a conversation, over the bonnet (front part) of the car. How has your perspective changed? The other person crosses the street to talk to someone else. How do things alter as the person recedes? How does the scene change if, as you watch, traffic passes between you?



How much detail do you include? If you are describing a range of mountains you see in the distance, out your window, how much can you tell your reader. If you are getting out of your car in a parking lot near the foot of one of the mountains, how much more do you see? If you have begun the ascent, what will you focus on now. How much detail do you want?



You are watching reports of a protest, on your television. You jot notes. What do you see? You are in the crowd watching the protest. Now what? You are part of the protest. How has your angle and knowledge changed?

Perspective is an important consideration. We need to be able to give our readers a sense of placement and of distance (whether near or far), a sense of what our narrators do, or do not, know because of their perspectives.

The exercise: At different heights, degree of detail is different… the kinds of things



one can see are different… the sounds one can hear are different… the angle of vision is different… things don’t always seem to be what they are … depending on the proximity, smell might come into play. Time of day can join the crowd.

I have a lengthier, more complicated version that we did in 2012 which you can look at and even do if it piques your interest. This shorter, kinder version is specifically so poets can play.

Choose an event, or a setting. I want your narrator to consider the chosen item from a specific place. You need to let us know, without shoving it in our faces, where the place is in terms of its relationship to what the narrator is going to talk about, or describe.

too close

too close

Change the narrator’s view. Alter the angle or the distance and have your narrator discover something they hadn’t seen or known before about what it is they are describing.

Is there a significance, or an epiphany, with the new perspective? (There does not have to be)

That’s it. Nice and easy… or you can do the original exercise. Heh Heh.

I will see you Thursday for some talk on the different modes of writing prose, which might be interesting to consider in a longer poem; Friday for the roundup; and next Tuesday for our monthly image prompt.

Happy writing, everyone.


Posted by on 18/11/2014 in exercises, poetry


Tags: , , ,

22 responses to “Poem Tryouts: It’s All About Perspective

  1. julespaige

    18/11/2014 at 10:52 am

    I thought I had linked this to Pinkgirlink last week…but I couldn’t find it.
    Must have forgotten some step, like the prove I’m not a robot?

    Anyway it is a different perspective. Maybe not quite to exercise. But I am back after a wonderful weekend away in a warmer climate. I may never quite catch up… And especially since today is a two-for kiddie day.

    Wishing I could have packed some warm sunshine to take home…
    Cheers, Jules

    • margo roby

      22/11/2014 at 10:57 am

      I don’t do the robot stuff, Jules, so we’re going to put it down to your brain is so full, it thought it had when it hadn’t 😉

  2. b_young

    18/11/2014 at 10:54 am

    A little lame. I’ll try again later

    • Misky

      18/11/2014 at 12:04 pm

      I like yours.

    • margo roby

      22/11/2014 at 10:57 am

      As many as you wish, Barbara.

  3. Carol Carlisle

    18/11/2014 at 11:48 am

    Sounds like something WP could post in Photography 101

  4. Carol Carlisle

    18/11/2014 at 12:32 pm

    Quick “trip” to yesterdays fotos and I created this


    18/11/2014 at 1:27 pm

    I had a go at this intribuing prompt here:

    • margo roby

      22/11/2014 at 10:55 am

      Well if I had known something like this would grab you, ViV, I would have come up with more prompts!

  6. Hannah Gosselin

    20/11/2014 at 8:32 pm

    Hi, Margo! Busy week – I’m arriving late and with a response that, I’m sure…merely skims the surface of what you’re suggesting. Still, I’m compulsive about posting to the few sites that I regularly post to on a weekly basis – so here’s my weak offering. 🙂

    • margo roby

      22/11/2014 at 10:46 am

      That’s okay, Hannah. I’m late getting around. Tell you what, I’ll take whatever you have so long as I get my weekly Hannah visit. 🙂


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