Hatrack River
Home | About Orson Scott Card | News & Reviews | OSC Library | Forums | Contact | Links
Research Area | Writing Lessons | Writers Workshops | OSC at SVU | Calendar | Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » help with formatting

   
Author Topic: help with formatting
Christine
Member
Member # 1646

 - posted      Profile for Christine   Email Christine         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My novel begins with the following poem:

“No matter what you do, nor how hard you try, the signs will come. We don’t always know when, we don’t always know why, but futures can’t be changed by you or I.”

Right now, I have it formatted just like you see it, in quotes and just all shoved together. This is leading to a lot of comments that the grammar is poor (it should be you or me). I think these comments would go away if I actually have a properly formatted poem. The trouble is, I'm not a poet (and I know it....sorry, had to, take 5 points of damage). The truth is, I don't normally even like poetry. (No offense to your poets out there. I actually have a lot of respect for poets and their art, but just because I can appreciate it doesn't mean I like it or understand it.) Anyway. How would you format this as a poem?


Posts: 3567 | Registered: May 2003  | Report this post to a Moderator
ChrisOwens
Member
Member # 1955

 - posted      Profile for ChrisOwens   Email ChrisOwens         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm not a poet, and have a hard time reading it, and unless a good reader puts the intended emphasis aloud, I don't often 'get it'.

That said I break it like this:

No matter what you do,
nor how hard you try,
the signs will come.
We don’t always know when,
we don’t always know why,
but futures can’t be changed
by you or I.

Then I would center it and put it in italics.


Posts: 1275 | Registered: Mar 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
Magic Beans
Member
Member # 2183

 - posted      Profile for Magic Beans   Email Magic Beans         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Poetry should always be quoted with its original line breaks intact. To prevent them from becoming paragraph breaks in MS Word, use Shift+Enter.

Most quoted poetry that I recall seeing in books at chapter or story mastheads, etc., is formatted in italic rather than uses quotes. Most manuscript submission guidelines specify that italic text should be formatted as underlined.

Perhaps, since it's already someone else's work, a bit of poetry to set the mood or lead into a chapter should not count against your first thirteen lines. Such things are always in the middle to upper portion of the page, and the chapter or story still has around thirteen lines on its first page.

I am not the forum moderator, of course, so don't take my word for it.


Posts: 284 | Registered: Sep 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
Robyn_Hood
Member
Member # 2083

 - posted      Profile for Robyn_Hood   Email Robyn_Hood         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I agree mostly with what ChrisOwens suggested, however, I would add a space between the two stanzas.

I'm a bit curious though, is this a quoted poem, or is it one you wrote to go with your story?


Posts: 1473 | Registered: Jul 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
Christine
Member
Member # 1646

 - posted      Profile for Christine   Email Christine         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
You misunderstand....

This is actually MY poetry. I wrote it. I'm just not sure how it should look...although I think Chris might have gotten it. (Please let me know if you feel otherwise.)

The qyuotes are there because in my fictional schema a long-dead character wrote it....but I wrote it.


Posts: 3567 | Registered: May 2003  | Report this post to a Moderator
Robyn_Hood
Member
Member # 2083

 - posted      Profile for Robyn_Hood   Email Robyn_Hood         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Poetry is a very personal type of writing, and so I am hesitant about making any suggestions. However, while the second stanza flows quite nicely, the meter feels a bit off in the first stanza. When I first read it with your 13-lines, I was thrown off a bit and had to re-read it a few times to find the right poetic lilt.

No matter what you do, 6 syllables
nor how hard you try, 5 syllables
the signs will come. 4 syllables

We don’t always know when, 6 syllables
we don’t always know why, 6 syllables
but futures can’t be changed 6 syllables
by you or I. 4 syllables


IMO, I would adjust the meter of the first stanza so that all the lines have six syllables. This could help it flow better and could make it easier to read.

i.e.

No matter what you do,
nor how hard you may try,
the signs are going to come.

[This message has been edited by Robyn_Hood (edited October 07, 2004).]


Posts: 1473 | Registered: Jul 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
GZ
Member
Member # 1374

 - posted      Profile for GZ   Email GZ         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I agree there is something about the first stanza -- though it would tend to say that it needs another line, and one that rhymes with "Why."

As far as the formating, what Chris said, italics optional.


Posts: 652 | Registered: Feb 2002  | Report this post to a Moderator
Christine
Member
Member # 1646

 - posted      Profile for Christine   Email Christine         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I've been playing with it, and I'm not sure about adding extra sylabbles, that sounds forced. I think the gangling fourth line on the second stanza and the lack of a rhyming pattern may be worse. Going with GZ's suggestion:

No matter what you do,
nor how hard you try,
the signs will come
until we die.

We don’t always know when,
we don’t always know why,
but futures can’t be changed
by you or I.

or alternately:

No matter what you do,
nor how hard you try,
the signs will come;
don't ask me why.

We will never know when,
we dare not guess why;
futures can’t change
from you or I.

or take three:

No matter what you do,
nor how hard you try,
the signs will come;
I do not lie.

We don’t always know when,
we don’t always know why,
but futures can’t be changed
by you or I.


UGH...now I remember why I hate writing poetry...but I really think it adds something to this story. Any of those better than the first version?


Posts: 3567 | Registered: May 2003  | Report this post to a Moderator
autumnmuse
Member
Member # 2136

 - posted      Profile for autumnmuse   Email autumnmuse         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
However you choose to break up the lines, capitalize the first word of each line, even if it is in the middle of the sentence.
Posts: 818 | Registered: Aug 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
autumnmuse
Member
Member # 2136

 - posted      Profile for autumnmuse   Email autumnmuse         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Maybe repetition is what is called for?

Try this on for size:

It won't matter what you do
It won't matter what you try
The signs will still come to both you and I.

We don’t always know when
We don’t always know why
But futures are set for both you and I.

This has a stronger rythm, if rythm is what you are going for. Plus, you get contractions in the same place each time. Both verses now scan the same, and they are more evenly metered.

I studied poetry back in seventh grade but I still remember the different types of stress/unstressed syllables: iamb, spondee, anapest, etc.


Posts: 818 | Registered: Aug 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
Robyn_Hood
Member
Member # 2083

 - posted      Profile for Robyn_Hood   Email Robyn_Hood         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Either take two or three, if you want something lighter. Personally, I like take one. The "Until we die" sounds a bit ominous and gives it a tone of foreboding.

Something else to consider is using either "you" OR "we". The switch is noticible (especially when you do it mid-stanza).


Posts: 1473 | Registered: Jul 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
GZ
Member
Member # 1374

 - posted      Profile for GZ   Email GZ         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I like the the "Until we die" version best. I like the foreboding. I definately wouldn't go with the one that uses "why" in both stanza's.

I would recommend that:
"but futures can’t be changed" be switched to "futures aren't changed."

The first version of the line I find to be to long, and throws off the sing-song, folksy quality of the rest, which is what I think makes the poem work in the piece anyway.


[This message has been edited by GZ (edited October 07, 2004).]


Posts: 652 | Registered: Feb 2002  | Report this post to a Moderator
QuantumLogic
Member
Member # 2153

 - posted      Profile for QuantumLogic           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think all of the add-ons to the first stanza sound forced. What I would do to make the second stanza fit the first better would be to move the "by you or I" to the end of the third line, rather than having a line break there. I also might drop the "But" at the beginning of the third line to make it flow more smoothly. Anyway, I like the wording of the original version much better than any of the suggestions designed to fix it.
Posts: 30 | Registered: Aug 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
rickfisher
Member
Member # 1214

 - posted      Profile for rickfisher   Email rickfisher         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
I'm not sure about adding extra sylabbles, that sounds forced.
I have to disagree on this, Christine. If the poem doesn't scan right, then trying to read it as if it were poetry is forced. It's trying to put 10 pounds of . . . well, whatever . . . into a five pound bag. It's worth putting enough effort that you can write lines that scan without seeming to be forced, so that the reader can read with no trouble.

And I have to say that what really sounds forced in this poem is "you or I"--being ungrammatical just to fit your rhyme scheme. I can understand why people have complained about this, and if you're going to worry about sounding forced, then you should be consistent and change it. It might take some real work--changing the rhymes in the earlier part to match "you or me", or "me or you", or replacing the last line altogether. But as it is, I think a lot of readers will find it really off-putting, especially as the first lines of your story.

[This message has been edited by rickfisher (edited October 09, 2004).]


Posts: 932 | Registered: Jul 2001  | Report this post to a Moderator
Survivor
Member
Member # 213

 - posted      Profile for Survivor   Email Survivor         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Is the usage "by you or I" actually such bad grammer? I mean, I suppose it may not be entirely correct, but I didn't blink at it, certainly not any more than I would blink at "by you or me".

As for this "poem", I don't know why you're bothering to call it a poem anyway. The main import it has is as a saying that has been passed down, archaic usages and all.


Posts: 8322 | Registered: Aug 1999  | Report this post to a Moderator
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Administrator
Member # 59

 - posted      Profile for Kathleen Dalton Woodbury   Email Kathleen Dalton Woodbury         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
How about something more like:

"No matter what you do,
No matter who you be,
The forewarned signs will come,
to you and me.

We don’t always know when,
We don’t always know why.
No one can change the future,
Not you, not I."


Posts: 8269 | Registered: A Long Time Ago!  | Report this post to a Moderator
cicerocat
Member
Member # 2138

 - posted      Profile for cicerocat   Email cicerocat         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
"No matter what you do, nor how hard you try, the signs will come. We don’t always know when, we don’t always know why, but futures can’t be changed by you or I."

quote:
How would you format this as a poem?

I remember this from an English class, and I can't remember the terminology, but *if* (lost my "if" before) you want to keep it in more prose format (kinda like how you have it in the part I quoted) instead of making it look like a poem in a poem book, you can after each line add a "/".

For example if it would like this in poetry format:

No matter what you do,
nor how hard you try,
the signs will come.

Then you can instead do this: "No matter what you do / nor how hard you try / "

And so on.

If this is helpful, I can try to look up a source on it that's more accurate. (Since I'm not sure what to do if you want to keep the periods and such.)

Cya,
CC

PS: Apparently, you can't use the slash version for more than 2 lines quoted poetry.

http://www.aresearchguide.com/5quoting.html

So, this doesn't really help you, but if later on you only need to quote a couple of lines of the poem, that might come in handy.

Cya,
CC

[This message has been edited by cicerocat (edited October 11, 2004).]

[This message has been edited by cicerocat (edited October 11, 2004).]


Posts: 57 | Registered: Aug 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2