I was asked to write a short piece of advice for someone who is writing, or wants to try writing, a verse-novel. I thought I’d share my response here:
I usually call my books novels-in-poems rather than verse-novels.
It’s important to learn the craft of poetry, and become adept at using all the tools in the poetry toolbox.
I love the music of language, the intricacies of the way sound patterns and patterns of meaning intersect and weave together, the way language brings it’s own history into a story so that the story becomes multi-layered–the story of the narrative and the story of how the narrative takes shape within language.
It’s not easy, but if it’s done well, the effort can–in the most glorious moments of writing and reading–become unfelt and invisible. That happens when you go so deeply into the story-poem that language is doing all the heavy lifting. Language can do that for you because it has evolved through eons of specificity. Our job is to trust it.