How to Convert Your Poems into Short stories

in The Ink Well8 months ago (edited)

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Ever since @theinkwell released their September Newsletter we learned that at least until March 2021 only short stories will be accepted and rewarded.

For the moment, The Ink Well is going to concentrate on short stories only: we will not accept poetry or chapters of serials. The curation team will review this in March 2021.

So, does that mark the end for all of you poets out there? I would argue, no. You see the fact is poems are, in their essence, a story . Whether a heartbreak over a breakup, sorrow caused by war, love letters, admiration, poems most tell how you feel at an instant moment and how you come to feel that way, and maybe the consequences of that feeling.

Poems share a complicated version of how you feel by focusing on the aesthetic of it all, and couple of rhymes don't hurt as well. Rhythm is what makes a poem a poem, that's what essentially differentiate it from a diary, or a short story. But in the end poems remain to be a sort of short stories.

So, how do you convert your poems into short stories?

The secret is such conversion lies in capturing the essence in the premise of your poems. Think of it as a mixture of a song lyrics on Genius and behind the scenes to your poem. How come you feel that way? And how did that leave you? Simply put, why did you write that poem? But the answer in the short story shouldn't be put in layman terms. The story isn't "I wrote a story because my girlfriend dumped me", but rather the story of your feelings.

Transferring the essence of your poems

Each has a tone to it, pessimism, optimism, heartbreak, sorrow, or joy. How was your mental state writing? And how is it resembled in the poem and in what lines exactly. Each poem has sort of keywords in it that you could use as guiding lines in your short story. A perfect helping example can be found in @theinkwell's Writing prompt #4: Exploring Your Life in Fiction. Here is an excerpt

  • Who is the main character (MC)?
  • What is the MC’s deepest desire? What is troubling him or her?
  • What is preventing the MC from getting the desired thing?
  • Where does the story take place?
  • Who are the minor characters? Are they supportive or are they part of the problem?
  • How will the story’s conflict be resolved?

These questions can be useful when converting your poem into a story by focusing on its essence. Think of your poem as an idea and the story is its development. I have recently done that in A Horribly Written Song where I rewrote a poem I had as a story. Another where you can see both versions is one I wrote in my first Horribly written diaries where I took the last one and turned it into A Horrible Way To Dissociate From A Friend. But here I will do a sort of live rewriting a poem into a story using my last poem that got curied here: These Poems

Only ache comes from a heart with a made up mind
Fed up with the silence verdict I unjustly have signed
Then I stupidly decided to tell her that buried secret
Complaining to her about a heart she left mesmerized
I looked into her eyes and saw only my fire in its reflection
She told me that my love for her is forever denied
She was my life and when her verdict was rejection
It would have been more merciful had I died

Every poem I write, say and think
Comes from the beauty of your eyes
And the warmth your hand pours
These poems aren't just dry ink
They are the place your smile lies
They are from you, they are all yours

These poems are love lasting years
These are longing, music, and tears
These are the days we spend together
They are the falsehood of forever
Without your love, nothing makes my heart cheers

Every poem I write, say and think
Comes from the beauty of your eyes
And the warmth your hand pours
These poems aren't just dry ink
They are the place where your smile lies
They are from you, they are all yours

So, what are the essence of the poem above? A man loves a woman dearly yet doesn't tell her, forcing his heart into silence. He is later overwhelmed with the urge to tell her, only for his advancement to get rejected. His love for her doesn't go away, inspiring him to write more poems and music (AKA songs). That's the essence, now let's capture it in a short a story using what we learned so far. It is not exactly "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" but then again, the poem isn't that good either. Shhhh, don't tell curie.

Poems and Songs

I keep having reoccurring dream every night before I wake up to write a song. A dream of a memory that I have been living for thousands of times now. I walk wearing a suit and she walks in the opposite direction, everything starts moving slower, time seems to be malfunctioning, like a watch running on dying batteries. She wears a blue dress, complementing her blue eyes and adding accent to her blonde hair.

At the beginning I fight the burning urge inside me to talk to her. The walks seems to take years, years of my heart beating into me the desire to ask her out. Years have gone by and she started to walk by me, that instant where we are perfectly aligned, the eye contact doesn't stop. My eyes are trying to tell her about the agony caused by her smile, and her eyes can see through the wall I spent years putting my truth away from her.

That's when I decided to tell her, I practiced and fantasized about this moment thousands of times in front of mirror, or inside my mind as I lay awake at night.

"Hey, Tara" I turned to her to eventually tell her what she expected me to say for years "I was wondering if we could go out on a date". I said it almost like it was burning food that I couldn't wait to spit out. I looked into her eyes as I said it, and all I saw in reflection was me, naked, dirty, weak, and broken.

Unlike the times I spent practicing and fantasizing, the dream ends differently. "No, I don't think so", she says, then I would get hit by a thunder, dissolving me into ash as the went blows me away. I spent the last twenty years gathering those ashes in hopes of turning them into paper again, paper on which I write a new song.

I often think about trying to find her and calling her. Maybe thank her for standing up like a model as I paint her into a poem and a song. Or maybe to thank her since I perform my heart out every night because I see her face in the crowd.


Great post @amirtheawesome1! Really helpful for every poet in this amazing community! I'm good now that I read you recommendations. I write poems most of the time, and not being able to share them here is quite sad. However, I'm planning now to give them a new form. Thanks.

Glad you liked, and I would definitely love to read more of your stories.

Also, I am pretty sure @theinkwell would mind it, if you add in the poem itself as well.

@amirtheawesome1 ما هو رأيك بفكرتي؟

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Thanks, I got some help writing it from my friend @tacky-iraqi. It is good that it would help anyone. I had a similar problem when I started as I had either poems or a series of short surreal thoughts like the ones here. I think converting them into short stories is also a good mental exercise and also helps you dig deeper.

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Congratulations @amirtheawesome1!
You raised your level and are now a Minnow!

 8 months ago 

What a good publication! I'm going to try it

Please do. I would love to see more of your work.

I love this SO much, @amirtheawesom1. Beautifully done. I think it's so great to inspire poets to try their hand at fiction. It may not be the right fit, but if you have never tried it you won't know, right? I try my hand at poetry from time to time, for example, and it's a fascinating exercise in breaking out of my regular m.o. I learn something and enjoy the process every time.

I hope people will try your recommendations.

Anything to help the community. I think it is really worth a shot for poets here. I have watched my uncle turn his poetry book into a story, and it was even serialized, so it is possible. I really hope this benefits people.

Sorry for the late reply. I have going through some difficult circumstances.

That's really neat about your uncle's serial story.

No worries about the late reply. I'm sorry to hear of your difficult circumstances, and I hope things improve!