Friday, February 1, 2008

Poetry in Fantasy Literature

In the early chapters of Crimson Swarm I have a poem that digs deeply into the history and lore of my world. I am rather pleased with it. I think it flows well, and tells the story in a way that other types of narration may not, but I'm not sure I'm going to keep it. The problem is every critique I've received of a chapter that the poem is in (I've moved it a couple times) the critiquers say things like, "The poem kind of slowed things down." or "I only skimmed the poem."

Don't get me wrong, I totally understand. I used to do the same thing with Tolkien. In the Lord of the Rings, every time I came to a song, or poem, zing, I'd skip right over it. But then over the years I started to read them, and love them. I think you can really see Tolkien's passion about his world in the poetry.

My fear is if I have this big long poem (it is probably a page long) in the first three chapters of my manuscript, is an agent going to feel like it really slowed things down as well? Should I keep it, but maybe move it later? Cut it down in bite-sized chunks? Or ditch it altogether?

I'm not sure I have an answer for that yet. I'll add it to my list of things to ponder as I wade through editing.


Anders said...

Yeeaah ... as a devoted reader of fantasy, I tend to skip poems, etc. as well. My eyes just gloss over them. I would advise cutting it.

Misti said...

You know, I actually do like your poem, but I have to agree with your other point as well. When I come across something like that in a story I'm reading, I tend to skim through it. Maybe cut it from the narrative, but use it somewhere else instead. I've seen books with poems at the beginning. Who knows, it might work better there.

Stuart said...

I agree with Misti. The poem is really good, just hard to fit into the narrative. Maybe snip a stanza or two in certain places and include the whole thing in the appendix?

Bernita said...

I like original poems in prose, though I will skip if they are long..