So you wanna write a verse novel?

It goes like this.

I read Crank by Ellen Hopkins.

I decided to write a verse novel.

I opened up a blank doc after some plotting and started.

I entered Caroline Starr Rose’s verse novel challenge and contest. Read 5 verse novels by the end of 2010 to be entered into her contest for an arc of her verse novel. Oh and did you hear her good news? Her book, May B. found a new home! Woo hoo!

I read her blog posts about writing a verse novel.

Bucket of cold water was dumped over my head. The icy cold kind.

She said, “Don’t write a verse novel just to write a verse novel.”

Um, yeah. That would be me.

I read a few verse novels.

I found patterns:

  • They dealt with an issue, death, or historical event.
  • They had an extremely simple plot line.
  • They focused more on emotion than on a complicated plot.

Here are the books I read with links to my Goodreads reviews:

I love verse novels. Something magical about them.

I decided my current story project will not work as a verse novel. Too many twists. Not right for the voice of the main character.

I made a promise to myself that with the right story idea, I will attempt a verse novel.

Have you ever thought about writing a verse novel or out of your genre?


20 Responses to So you wanna write a verse novel?

  1. Laura Best December 20, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

    I have to say this is the first time I’ve heard of a Verse Novel.. Sheesh, guess I’ve been living in the dark on this one. I’ll have to check this out..

  2. kris December 20, 2010 at 12:52 pm #

    I give you all the credit in the world for attempting it. I don’t think I would ever even try. I might try one of your recommendations at some point–I would think it would be distracting as a vehicle, but I’ve never read a verse novel.

    I did just finish HUNGER GAMES, finally. 🙂

  3. Stina Lindenblatt December 20, 2010 at 1:35 pm #

    There’s no way I’m writing a verse novel. That’s above my abilities.

    I’m planning to write outside my genre sometime in the new year. I’m learning all I can about romantic suspense (and *cough* erotica *cough*) first, though YA is still my first love.

  4. Angela Felsted December 20, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    I love to experiment with genres. I’ve never tried writing a “verse novel” though. In fact, I’ve never heard the term before now.

  5. Sherrie Petersen December 20, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    I love verse novels and I entered Caroline’s contest as well, but I don’t think I could ever write in verse. I enjoy reading them but my brain doesn’t write that way. At least not yet.

  6. Lynn December 20, 2010 at 2:14 pm #

    Honestly, I have never heard that term before! But will look out for the books you mentioned, read and then see from there! Thanks for teaching me something new today!

    • Laura December 20, 2010 at 2:23 pm #

      thanks for commenting everyone. What I love about verse novels is the powerful use of language to evoke emotion. I love poetic uses in any writing when appropriate.

      Sherrie – It was a great contest. I’m glad I entered and read some great books.
      Lynn – Glad I could help! 🙂
      Angela – I think writing poetry would help any writer in the long run.
      Stina – Good luck with that research. **cough cough**
      Kris – You’ll have to finish the whole series so we can talk about Mockingjay.
      Laura – They really are fun to read, you should check them out!

  7. Patti Nielson December 20, 2010 at 3:34 pm #

    I’ve never considered a verse novel, but I’m definitely got an idea for outside of my genre, but that might have to wait a couple of years.

  8. MG Higgins December 20, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    I’ve never seriously considered it, but I think it would be fun. Thanks for your tips about simple plot, etc. I wouldn’t have thought of them and I can see that they’re important.

    • Laura December 20, 2010 at 4:41 pm #

      MG – I didn’t realize any of that until I’d read a couple.

      Patti – Sometimes ideas have to percolate for a bit. 🙂

  9. Jennifer Hoffine December 20, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    I would never write a verse novel as I don’t have much faith in my poetry writing skills. I do like reading them though.

    I especially liked WHAT MY MOTHER DOESN’T KNOW by Sonya Sones.

    • Laura December 20, 2010 at 8:16 pm #

      Yes, I forgot to mention the two Sonya Sones’ books I’d read to. They were seamless.

  10. angela December 21, 2010 at 7:43 am #

    I LOVE verse novels. I love the flow, I love how close the situation feels to the reader, Verse novels are magic. Good luck with yours!

    Have a wonderful Christmas!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  11. susan kaye quinn December 21, 2010 at 2:56 pm #

    Good for you, for exploring new writing avenues. Even if you didn’t keep the verse, you learned something very cool about it. Me? Uh, no. I can barely write a regular novel. 🙂

  12. Karen Lange December 21, 2010 at 3:01 pm #

    No, I haven’t. But maybe I’ll explore the idea next year. 🙂 Blessings to you and your family, Laura. Thank you for your kind comments on my blog.
    Happy New Year,

  13. Terry Lynn Johnson December 21, 2010 at 6:40 pm #

    I have to admit, I’d never heard of verse novels until I heard about Caroline’s MayB. And I didn’t know those books you listed were verse novels!
    I wouldn’t attempt such a thing, but I seriously can’t wait to read MAYB.
    Good luck with your attempt! And thanks for informative post.

  14. caroline starr rose December 21, 2010 at 6:59 pm #

    I love the exposure verse novels are getting through my little contest! Have to admit I didn’t start off planning to write verse, and I’d read all of two verse novels befor attempting my own.

    Sounds strange, but every attempt at MAY B. as prose wasn’t close enough to the bleak circumstances, the first-hand accts. of pioneer women I had read, or my character herself. Writing MAY this way helped me understand Karen Hesse’s decision to write OUT OF THE DUST as verse (or at least my perception of her reasoning): a stark setting can be powerfully handled with spare language.

    It’s only recently I’ve been comfortable labeling what i write as poetry. I don’t know if I’m worthy of the lofty label of poet, but I do know verse is one way my writing works.

  15. Marcia December 21, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    I enjoy verse novels. I agree that they’re really about emotion more than plot, and I love how they can create so much emotion with so few words. But my first love, as a reader, is “thicker” (but not in a bad way, haha!)prose you can really sink down into, and that’s what I want to write.

  16. Kelly Polark December 21, 2010 at 10:28 pm #

    I have never even read a verse novel.
    Good luck to you! It seems like that would be a tough one to write! Good for you for going out of your comfort zone.

  17. Jackee December 22, 2010 at 3:59 am #

    Good for you to know what format the story did need, though! :o) I love the idea of a verse novel, but so far haven’t been persuaded into one.

    I took Caroline’s verse novel challenge too and have failed miserably! I’m happy you did beter than me. Cheers!

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