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Write it out loud.

There was a playwright by the name of Preston Sturges who was particularly well known for his dialogue. Sturges was the writer of such films as Sullivan’s Travels, The Lady Eve, and The Great McGinty. Part of the reason that his dialogue was so incredible was his technique for writing. He didn’t sit down at a typewriter and tap out his ideas. He would dictate his plays to a secretary who took them down. Sturges would actually act out his plays as he was dictating them. He was all of the characters. He became a film director because he didn’t like the way other directors brought his screenplays to fruition. It didn’t match the picture he had in his mind. So, how does what some crazy playwright from fifty or more years ago did matter to you?

What Sturges did was to write his plays out loud. They were meant to be performed, so he “wrote” them by performing them. If you are to be a performance poet, this is a valuable technique. If your poems are meant to be delivered at a slam or sung in a bar, write them out loud. Feel them in your ear and your mouth, not with your fingers on a keyboard or around a pen. Don’t put it to paper until it works well out of your mouth. Perhaps use a recorder of some sort to take down the poem for later transcription. Are there actions or hand motions that will go with performing the poem? Are there dramatic pauses? Those stage directions are seldom caught in a poem written down. Perform your poems. Act them out. Are you going to stand and deliver the poem in a monotone? Are you going to infuse it with emotion? These are things that you have to decide.

Maybe you will perform the poem in different ways at different times or before different audiences. Singer/songwriters often do this. Maybe you will adjust your performance through successive appearances. Experiment to see what works best for you.

See Also: Read it out loud., Say it out loud!

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