The Poetry in our Fiction

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by Susan Lyttek  @SusanLyttek

On the day I’m writing this, I just wrote a personal blog post about our poetic God and how God uses poetry to communicate with us and through us.

But the day this will be posting, I will be boarding a cruise ship with my husband to celebrate our fortieth anniversary and unable to see this go live.

I thought that dichotomy oddly poetic.

It is that kind of situational poetry that works so well in fiction. It is the juxtaposition of the thought of one character as opposed to their own actions or the actions of another that communicates to us on a deeper level.

I know many fiction writers who write poetry or who have dabbled in it. But I know just as many who claim never to have written verse yet their words abound with poetry in their novels.

First of all, I think I should define what I mean by poetry. As much of that is using what it is not, or is not necessarily.

Poetry doesn’t have to rhyme or follow meter or adhere to a bunch of rules. It can, but it doesn’t have to. Poetry at its best is deep writing. It can use lots of words or few or even none at all. Some music resonates poetically as do some pictures. You could define poetry as spirit speaking to spirit.

One time, many years ago I was blessed to hear Madeleine L’Engle speak. One point that she made in that lecture was that while nonfiction might be real, fiction alone has the ability to convey truth. It is in story that we can grasp the stuff life is made of and what really matters.

That is the poetry within fiction.

Every novelist, especially every Christian novelist, writes poetry. @SusanLyttek #ACFW #writing #Writingcommunity #christianfiction Click To Tweet

Personally, I think that is why Jesus told so many parables. How would we even get a glimmer of the intensity of God’s love without the story of the Prodigal Son? How would we see the value of our salvation and entrance into the kingdom without the Pearl of Great Price?

The poetry in story is what plunges beneath the day to day and declares, this is what makes you human. This is what it means to be created in the image of God.

Poetry in story, like the prophet Isaiah quotes the Messiah, is knowing how to speak. It is the word in season.

Isaiah 50:4 (NKJV) “The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary.”

There are books I turn to when I need to be reminded of joy or hope. I’m sure others have their own litany of tales that nourish the spirit. Other stories tell me of purpose and worth. People can tell me all these things, certainly. But the written story, the poetry within the tale, can reach down and unlatch the locked doors that I’d even forgotten were there.

Since I’m writing to ACFW, I know you know pieces of your own work that have surprised you along the way. You have written something and discovered that though your keystrokes or pen noted the words, those same words were never yours. They were something from beyond you, inserting soul-searching musical words into the story. It is then, I believe, that the Spirit has come alongside us and nudged the words. Someone will need this, He says.

And you, darling writer, are the poem he uses to touch someone’s soul.

When Susan Lyttek isn’t writing, this blackbelt wielder, stick-shift driver, and obsessive researcher can be found tutoring ages 5 to 50 on such things as the quadratic equation, French irregular verbs, and exceptions to i before e except after c. Susan mixes in a degree of chaos into every tale since that’s how her mind functions. Visit her on her website and Facebook.


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