Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Writing Tips: The Dramatic Monologue

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(Notes from a Poetry Workshop)

During the month of April, in celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing a few writing tips that I have been fortunate to learn from Tina Mozelle Braziel who leads a poetry workshop at the Birmingham Public Library*. The workshop meets the first and third Tuesday of each month from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Because of my work schedule, I am not able to attend every time, but each time I do, I find it very helpful and stimulating.

Last week, Tina introduced us to the dramatic monologue. In the dramatic monologue, she told us, the poet speaks in the voice of someone else. The idea is to write from the point of view of someone who is known – an historical figure, a figure from literature, a biblical character, etc. “You can even choose a cartoon character,” she told us. Often a dramatic monologue begins in a normal fashion, then “gets weird.” She mentioned “My Last Duchess,” by Robert Browning as an example of the monologue getting weird.

To begin our writing exercise, we were asked to think of a well known character. For some reason, in our group that night we all latched onto cartoon characters. Once we picked a character whose voice we would speak from, we were instructed to write down some things associated with that character: objects, landscape, sights, sounds, anything that appealed to the senses that we connected with that character.

Once we had a list of things associated with our character, we were told to think about dreams. There are many different kinds of dreams – falling dreams, chasing dreams, recurring dreams – and in our dreams, images can shift and anything can happen. After a brief discussion of dreams, we were given our writing assignment: have your character tell their dream in their own voice.

Tomorrow I will share what I wrote that night: Foghorn Leghorn’s Dream.

*The poetry workshop is free and open to the public. It meets twice a month in the first floor conference room of the Birmingham Central Library downtown. The group meets on the first and third Tuesdays of each month from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

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