Poem Tryouts: Turn, Turn, Turn

03 Nov

8:O6 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to a medley of The Scottish Fight Song and Amazing Grace — I found it so uplifting to watch the video of this being played that the heck with the prompt, here’s a link, go watch and listen

Okay, okay and a prompt, but I’m going to take breaks to go back and watch the cellist. Hi, everyone. Settling in NaNoWriMo-ers? Have your plan in hand? For those new to Wordgathering, in the past year, I spend November talking to the novel writers. Sometimes I will have a prompt they can work on within their novel; sometimes I will discuss things to keep in mind. I always have a suggestion for the poets.

Some of you will be leaping in for the first time. Several of you have been participating for years. A few of you will be using the time to revise a novel in hand. No matter which, somewhere in your brain you’ll need to be conscious of the structure of the whole, and within the whole, each chapter. The same goes for poetry, but unless we are writing epics, we have a much smaller area within which to work and only one turn to consider. For both, there is a beginning, a middle, and an end. The key component is the turn, the moment when the story stops moving forward, but instead heads to a resolution.

In a novel, there are many mini-turns because there are sub-plots. If you are panicking about the novel as a whole, focus on the sub-plots. As in poetry, the first draft is getting stuff down on paper. It’s not writing until the revision happens (except for one or two people who have a gift — we aren’t sure we are speaking to them). For today, be conscious of the forward movement of your narrative, and thinking of where the several plots will eventually turn, in particular, the main plotline.

Poets, write a poem where the turn is particularly obvious. The best form for this is the sonnet, which sets up the problem in the first eight lines, and then comments on the problem as a way of resolution (not, necessarily solution), in the final sestet. Don’t panic. I’m not asking you to write a sonnet, although you certainly may. But, be more conscious of laying out an observation, or a problem, of where the poem turns and how you reach the end.

If you need something more specific by way of a spark, check Quickly’s House of Curiosities.

I shall see you Thursday for links and such; and Tuesday for another of my prompts.

Happy writing, everyone.


Posted by on 03/11/2015 in exercises, poetry, writing


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25 responses to “Poem Tryouts: Turn, Turn, Turn

  1. julespaige

    03/11/2015 at 10:22 am

    Turns… how funny. Well coincidental that my piece on games should so nicely fit:
    Boarder Lines

  2. pmwanken

    03/11/2015 at 10:28 am

    Or…you could pull off a hairpin turn in a Piku!! πŸ™‚ Here’s one from before…perhaps I’ll come up with another…

  3. desertdweller29

    03/11/2015 at 10:42 am

    Awesome rendition of The Fight Song. The cellist’s infectious smile alone was worth it. He felt every note.

    • margo roby

      03/11/2015 at 12:37 pm

      The cellist ‘s expression made me feel wonderful. I’m keeping this close by.

  4. Misky

    03/11/2015 at 10:48 am

    I find turns quite difficult. Mine often feel forced when they’re contrived.

    • margo roby

      03/11/2015 at 12:42 pm

      Ah. Going into it with that as the focus. I can have the same problem, unless it’s a sonnet where the form is such that the turn is there or it’s not a sonnet. Try (I know you’ve already written) not thinking particularly about how you get from here to there until you revise. It will be/feel more natural, if the turn is strengthened or goes in while you are reworking the how.

  5. Sasha A. Palmer

    03/11/2015 at 10:51 am

    Margo, thank you so much for this video. Love it.

  6. Sasha A. Palmer

    03/11/2015 at 11:14 am

    Here’s mine:

    I haven’t just written it, but it’s recent. I’m into sonnets now – have been writing a heroic crown of sonnets in Russian. Just one more sonnet, and I’m done! Here I am, bragging πŸ™‚

    • margo roby

      03/11/2015 at 12:43 pm

      If you are writing a crown of sonnets in Russian, feel free to brag.

      It’s good to see you here.


    03/11/2015 at 11:57 am

    I’m on the turn all the time! You may remember my Sonnetary Snook –
    or maybe Viva la Volta – which was written with the idea of shock tactics after the Turn.

    • margo roby

      03/11/2015 at 12:54 pm

      I do remember, but it’s worth another visit. Thanks for the links, ViV.

  8. margo roby

    03/11/2015 at 12:32 pm

    Good grief. Where did you all come from? I only turned my back for a wee bit.

  9. purplepeninportland

    03/11/2015 at 11:55 pm

    Wonderful music when I sorely needed it. Thanks, Margo.
    Mine is up at:

    • margo roby

      04/11/2015 at 8:59 am

      Like I say, I’m keeping this one close to hand. I’m glad it helped, Sara.

  10. Hannah Gosselin

    04/11/2015 at 1:51 pm

    Hello!! Good to see you, Margo. πŸ™‚

  11. barbcrary

    05/11/2015 at 10:21 pm

    I wrote it for Miz Q and had the thought it might fit here too, although I sometimes wonder about my thought processes to begin with. πŸ˜€

    • margo roby

      06/11/2015 at 2:33 pm

      However. It’s good to see you, Barbara.


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