Tag Archives: perspective

Poem Tryouts: It’s All About Perspective

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


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Skydiving into Tuesday Tryouts

7:26 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Little Darling by The Diamonds

Hi, everyone. We have another prose/fiction/narrative exercise [i.e. not poetry]. This is an interesting one that could result in some hair pulling, but can also result in a cool piece of writing. If you are having problems with NaNoWriMo, this will add about 1500 words. More importantly, it will allow you to play with perspective. Non-NaNo people, I suggest trying out the exercise, then looking to see where you see a poem. That leaves things broad for you which, I know, drives some of you nuts. Remember: there is no wrong way. The objective is to write. Ready to play?

This exercise suggests another way to look at something, a person, a setting, an event. In this exercise, your narrator(s) (imagine a camera eye)  must start high in the air and descend, getting closer and closer all the time to the same spot on the earth — and finally, passing through that spot and going under the ground (yes, a camera eye that has a heck of a swivel).

RULES ( how about that!):
Don’t change your target in mid-exercise.
Don’t move side-to-side; that is, focus on the same event on the ground but observe it from different altitudes.
You may, however, change narrator and/or point-of-view (first-person, second-person, third-person) from step to step. An anonymous third-person will often make sense.
It’s all right to read ahead (but it’s interesting to take each step as it comes). Try to write at least 250 words for each step.

REMEMBER: 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 …

If you are able, try this physically. Choose something that you are able to view from at least four levels and do so. For each, note the differences, the things you notice at one level, that you don’t see at another. No, no, don’t bang your head on the wall. This was an exercise my mentor and I gave high schoolers. Don’t over-think the steps. Relax. Write.

These steps may result in a continuous narrative… or a collection of different possibilities.  No transitions needed, at this point.

You might wish to target a character, a moment or event from an existing story. Or you can just wait for each step and see what happens, as you write. Whichever, decide what your focus is.

1.    Pretend you are like a bird or at the height of an airplane in flight, at least 600 feet or 200 meters in the air. Focus on your target (which is on the ground). Write everything you can see or hear. Try for at least 250 words.

2.    Pretend you are high in a tree or on a church steeple or on the roof of a nine-story apartment building or at a similar height. Remember: You may shift narrator and/or point of view from the previous step. You might even change the time of the narrative from that of the earlier step. Focus on your target. Write everything you can see or hear.

3.    Pretend you are looking out a first story-window  or sitting in the cab of a big truck or standing on a table or riding a horse. In some way, you are a little higher than most people’s heads.  Remember: You may wish to shift narrator and/or point of view. You may wish to shift the time of the narration. Focus on your target. Write everything you can see or hear.

4.    Pretend you are at eye-level with a grownup. (Okay, you are a grownup; I didn’t want to change my pattern.)  Or perhaps you are an invisible narrator. Remember: You can shift narrator and/or point of view. You can shift time. Focus on your target. Write everything you can see or hear.

5.    Pretend you are at the height of a child sitting on a rock or of a Labrador Retriever’s  eyes. Perhaps you are a child, or a Labrador Retriever (see what I mean about choosing to be a different narrator?]. Focus on your target. Write everything you can see or hear.

6.    Pretend you are underground, perhaps in a tunnel, a subway, a grave, a ditch. Remember: You may wish to shift narrator and/or point of view. You may shift time. Focus on your target. Write everything you can see or hear.

There is the possibility of adding smell to the equation, as that would change with proximity.

Non-NaNo poets, I think you can do the exercise and then look at what you have written as material within which to find a poem. You can also play with writing a narrative poem. Include all the steps. It can be about changes in perspective, about seeing things differently, maybe unexpectedly, with a shift in perspective. This can be figurative, or literal.

If you are struggling, but game, for heaven’s sake write me ( and say: This is what I have but I’m not sure about… or, I understand all, except this bit.

Above all, enjoy the experiment. It’s a valuable exercise for both prose and poetry. I shall see you Friday for the roundup; and next Tuesday for the next exciting installment of narrative exercises.

I’m off to organise my Christmas shopping! Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 13/11/2012 in exercises, poetry, writing


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Tuesday Tryouts: Altering Perspective

7:25 a.m. — Walnut Creek

Hello, all. We are in the middle of summer, or winter, and probably wishing it were the other. It all depends on our perspective, doesn’t it? Today’s exercise deals with perspective and may, or may not, result in poetry. What it will do is give you a way to approach a topic you want to write about.

Aside from point of view, perspective addresses the relationship of aspects of a subject to each other and to a whole; and the ability to perceive things in their interrelations or comparative importance. []

Pick an event from your life, or from the news. It does need to be something you know about and even, have an opinion about, although that isn’t necessary. You are going to relate the same event three times and you need to do it in the order outlined.

First, relate the event in one sentence.
Next, relate, or describe, the event in one paragraph.
Finally, write about the event in one page [don’t worry if it’s longer].

Notice how the event changes as you alter the amount of space you give it. Can you figure out what changes? How is each stage different? What significance does that have for us in the amount of space we give to a poem?

While an event is the easiest topic to try the exercise on the first time, you can repeat this with a place, an object, a relationship… Try one of these and see what a difference it makes to the subject you are writing about.

Pick one of the sentences, paragraphs, or pages and let it kickstart a poem. Or, try a poem for each of the stages and see what difference it makes. If this does result in a poem[s] I would love to see it[them], but if all the exercise results in is thinking, I would love to see that too. I would love to hear what you learn whether or not you have a poem[s]! If questions arise, ask!

I will see you all Thursday for bookmarkable sites; Friday for the roundup; and next Tuesday for a new form [I know you have missed forms]. If you think this post will interest someone, do click on the buttons below.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 05/07/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


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