Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Monday, June 16, 2014

Verse Vs. Prose (Guest Post by Michael Meyerhofer, Author of WYTCHFIRE)

Today I'm delighted to host fellow Red Adept Publishing author Michael Meyerhofer, who has recently released his debut novel, high fantasy WYTCHFIRE!  Be sure to hang around until the end because our mutual publisher is generously hosting a giveaway for this blog tour.

Lookit that bitchin' cover!

In addition to being a novelist, Michael is also an award-winning poet and editor of poetry anthologies, which is why I asked him this question:

How is writing verse different from long-form prose?  Do the skills you've developed as a poet come into play at all when you put on your novelist's hat?

Stephen, thanks for having me!  Today, I thought I’d talk a little about how being a contemporary poet has influenced my long-form prose (in this case, my epic/dark fantasy book, WYTCHFIRE, first in the Dragonkin Trilogy).  For starters, my love of epic fantasy goes back to Tolkien.  Probably a lot of other writers can say this, too, but my first actual book (besides DICK AND JANE and those passages from the Bible that I was supposed to be reading while I was grounded) was THE HOBBIT.  Even as a kid, I was amazed by the richness of Tolkien’s words, the raw beauty of his language.  I’m reminded of the ending of an absolutely fantastic short story by Tobias Wolff called "Bullet in the Brain", in which a dying book critic’s last memory is just what got him in the business in the first place: a simple, almost primal love of language.  That’s how it started.

For me, Tolkien was poetry, and still is.  Even though my own poetry is unapologetically contemporary, with pop culture jokes and nerdy references to the History Channel, and of course a lot of narrative, at the end of the day, it’s all about language—about sound.  Writing poetry helped me improve my prose a great deal, probably especially in terms of my descriptions and my willingness to take bigger, creative leaps.  I’d also add that a lot of my favorite poets are fiction writers, and vice versa.  Stephen Dobyns and Raymond Carver come to mind.

As for my process in one genre versus another, they’re surprisingly similar.  My poems usually start with an image or a memory and go from there—as does my fiction.  Both forms take a lot of work, though I think it’s probably easier to have a kind of Zen-like wrap-up in poetry than it is in fiction.  Put another way, I’ve never written an outline for a poem, but especially these days, I write complex outlines for my novels.  Nevertheless, the novels themselves start with a raw image of a character, something that just kind of drops out of the sky, perches as the base of my skull, and knocks on the back of my head until I let him in.  That goes along with my belief that writing is half deliberate (especially in terms of revision) and half autopilot.

There’s big differences, though, too.  Both require revision, sure, but poems are generally short little things.  Mine in particular tend to never go over a page and a half, whereas my fantasy manuscripts tend to be four hundred pages or longer.  Poetry has a wonderful immediacy that I love, but I also have a soft spot for the kind of narrative weaving and the big, page-by-page polishing that comes with long form fiction.

One final thing I’d say, if you’ll permit me, is to advise writers (established and aspiring, alike) to put as many tools in the toolbox as they can.  Find writers you like in all genres.  Read them often.  Just as poetry can add music to stories, a working knowledge of prose can add a wonderful accessibility to poetry.  And of course, other art forms—from other genres of writing to different forms of expression like music, photography, and painting—can be part of the process, too.  I hope this doesn’t sound pretentious (feel free to kick me if it does) but in a sense, I think writers should see themselves less as writers and more as artists, using whatever medium suits the purpose of the day.  

About the Author:


"Ladies, please.  You can BOTH marry me."

Michael Meyerhofer grew up in Iowa where he learned to cope with the unbridled excitement of the Midwest by reading books and not getting his hopes up, Probably due to his father’s influence, he developed a fondness for Star Trek, weight lifting, and collecting medieval weapons. He is also addicted to caffeine and the History Channel.

Michael Meyerhofer’s third poetry book, DAMNATIO MEMORIAE, won the Brick Road Poetry Book Contest.  His previous books of poetry are BLUE COLLAR EULOGIES (Steel Toe Books, finalist for the Grub Street Book Prize) and LEAVING IOWA (winner of the Liam Rector First Book Award).

He has also published five chapbooks: PURE ELYSIUM (winner of the Palettes and Quills Chapbook Contest), THE CLAY-SHAPER'S HUSBAND (winner of the Codhill Press Chapbook Award), REAL COURAGE (winner of the Terminus Magazine and Jeanne Duval Editions Poetry Chapbook Prize), THE RIGHT MADNESS OF BEGGARS (winner of the Uccelli Press 3rd Annual Chapbook Competition), and CARDBOARD URN (winner of the Copperdome Chapbook Contest).

Individual poems won the Marjorie J. Wilson Best Poem Contest, the Laureate Prize for Poetry, the James Wright Poetry Award, and the Annie Finch Prize for Poetry.  He is the Poetry Editor of Atticus Review.  His work has appeared in a number of journals including Ploughshares, Hayden’s Ferry Review, North American Review, River Styx, and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.

Visit Michael’s Blog: Trouble with Hammers
Or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Synopsis of WYTCHFIRE:

In a land haunted by the legacy of dead dragons, Rowen Locke has been many things: orphan, gravedigger, mercenary. All he ever wanted was to become a Knight of Crane and wield a kingsteel sword against the kind of grown horrors his childhood knows all too well.

But that dream crumbled—replaced by a new nightmare.

War is overrunning the realms, an unprecedented duel of desire and revenge, steel and sorcery. And for one disgraced man who would be a knight, in a world where no one is blameless, the time has come to decide which side he’s on.

Excerpt from WYTCHFIRE

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