It is a moment where a character is rising to the occasion, against all odds to save the life of another.
It is a poem hundreds of years old, and fairly obscure, so I felt safe using it. Other than that the same two characters have a battle of wills and wits that plays out with Aristotle quotes. Its a scene I am particularly proud of, and had a lot of fun writing. While many people may not know all the quotes, the conversation comes across clearly.
Especially the rising danger to the one character as she begins to get the best of the other. If a song or poem links characters, try it. Yet keep in mind that the reader is outside looking in. Will readers read all the lines of a poem or song?
Do they have to in order to follow along? That is, do the words affect the story? I would love to hear your thoughts.
I look forward to every one of your posts. They are very enlightening and helpful. Thank you so much for these insights. Not just this post but the whole blog are amazing and very helpful. I experienced this when I wrote my first practice novella, chapter titles were either a phrase from a song or inspired by a song.
It fitted perfectly and it provided inspiration for me but I agree that someone else already painted that picture. Maya, I like how you said that someone else already painted that picture. Thanks so much for this. I have a couple specific situations to ask about though. What about quotes from movies, for example, two characters interacting and one recites a movie quote in reaction to the scene: Also, are commercial jingles protected? And, is it possible to paraphrase song lyrics without a direct quote? Would that require permission? Lastly, when asking for permission, how much of a manuscript should be submitted, just the section with the reference, or the whole thing with the reference highlighted?
Is it appropriate to seek permission before getting published?
Sorry to ask so much, my manuscript has examples of all the above, my MC has a jukebox in his head. I get your railing against trying to assign your own emotional response to a reader rather than creating them, but you never answer the question your article asks, and why I struggled through its surprisingly redundancy. I have a traditional song, almost a nursery rhyme, in a story that the characters sing together and that sets up the whole story.
None, not one, of your points are relevant to my situation. It was very frustrating and felt pretty patronizing for you to include so much of your own fiction as exemplars without ever acknowledging that there just might be a place where you would want to include poem or song lyrics and just explain the details of formatting them. Artists always quote their influences directly, indirectly or subconsciously. I am as guilty as anyone.
This was the first thing my first editor jumped on, just before my comma splices and lack of scene setting. As long as the story elements fit the story, all should be well. Those influences in our life will, as you said, mark our work. But they need to be organic to the story, not only something we love or that has moved us. First of all, thanks for such a great article! Thank you for your article, and thank you for your time reading this question! Any help would be appreciated! Copyright holders have rights and limiting the use of their words is one of those rights.
You may want to check with one of your instructors and an attorney as well to get as much insight as possible on the issue. The MC in my novel defines her life in song lyrics and creates playlists for specific moments in time. Any information is appreciated. See if you can get permission if you absolutely have to use lyrics, or try one of the other options, such as creating your own lyrics to perfectly match the tone or mood you need. Came just looking for legal information on copyright laws, but was pleasantly surprised—and learnt something—by the parts on writing itself.
Should they be in italics? Also, because lyrics and poems are separated into stanzas they will squash up against prose paragraphs if the standard manuscript format is adhered to i. A good way to format long sections of lyrics and poetry is to indent on both sides so that the text sits inside the margins of your regular text. This way it stands out so agents and editors recognize what it is. However, you may not want to include long stretches of poems or lyrics. Since those items are so different from your story, the story itself stops when readers have to read long sections of poetry or lyrics.
There are allowances, of course. Yet readers come for the fiction, not songs and poems. Great article on a problematic subject.
I have a story about Shakespeare and have quoted his poems and from his plays obviously showing that it is Shakespeare speaking and writing the words. I believe his works are no longer protected by copyright but it still makes me unconfortable. Can I ask what your advice would be about using the title of a book or painting as my own title for a poem?
So maybe it's not only about the words. It's voice and pacing and dialogue The reader will focus on what stands out. Turn the reader's attention where you want it to go. Thank you for reading The Editor's Blog, an Internet resource for fiction writers, freelance editors, and everyone who loves words. Affiliate The Editor's Blog is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. Subscribe to RSS Feed. February 21, at Unlike in Agee and Evans's book, the pictures take primacy; Waits's contributions are short, minimal and scattered sparsely through this large-format volume.
One piece, "Waiting", reads in its entirety: On the whole, the poems seek to articulate a sense of life's unfathomable unfairnesses, the knowledge that something, for no good reason, has gone terribly wrong. But alongside that there's always the feeling that something better might turn up — after all, desperate conditions breed desperate hope. One of the most successful pieces, "A Dream", has "an unshaven God" fishing for souls to save from a boat in the sky.
Elsewhere fortune may take a more worldly form, as in "Lotto": The final poem, "Why? Waits's contributions are not entirely successful as poetry, which makes one wonder whether it's right to call him a poet. In the same way one could ask, pace Christopher Ricks , whether Bob Dylan is a poet: And this taxonomic question raises others: Don't performance poetry and dub blur the boundaries between poetry and song? The links between the two forms stretch back to the balladeers, the troubadours and beyond.
But the rise of the idea of the individual artist as auteur — with the concomitant assertion of personal ownership through copyright — marked a decisive breach with the notion of a shared, commonly owned lyrical tradition. In Part II, the poems are more various — perhaps more miscellaneous — but the song remains the same. But he can still make a pun out of it. The burden of that scrutiny is a little lighter.
Tim Upperton is author of the poetry collection A House on Fire. An inmate's view from the inside by Daniel Luff. Metro Top 50 by Metro.