Reading and Writing the Lyric Sentence
Poets think in lines, prose writers in sentences; the best of both work from sound to sense, with an ear for the music in their compositions. And writing for sound rather than story improves everything: Voice, content, pacing, and more. But students often don’t know how to make their sentences sing, or what we even mean when we talk about memorable lyric prose.
This workshop inspires you to recall what you once knew: Sound that sings is memorable, musical sound makes sense. You will learn to hear and create rhythm and music in prose, to discern the way the musical sentence develops theme and meaning implicitly. We begin by looking at syllables, the kinds of rhythm they offer, move on to vowels and consonants, then consider the desired effect, the rhythm and sentence best suited for a given moment, a scene, a bit of dialogue. Participants practice reading and writing for sound, and receive feedback on what they’ve achieved. The session culminates in a student performance.
This workshop is suitable and fun for all ages, middle or high school, undergraduate or graduate, or those long out of school. Consider scheduling a Sound Makes Sense workshop for your students.
For masterful literary examples of music in prose, along with close readings that look at how the music is made, see SforSentence.com, the literary webpage that invites writers to select a favorite sentence and perform a close reading.
Pearl Abraham is the author of, most recently, Animal Voices, Mineral Hum, which was shortlisted for the 2018 Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction. Among her novels are The Seventh Beggar (Riverhead Books), a finalist for the Koret Int’l Award in Fiction, and American Taliban (Random House). The Romance Reader, her first novel, was a Discover Award finalist and shortlisted for the UK’s 1995 Orange Prize. Recent essays have appeared on LitHub, Longreads, and in the Michigan Quarterly. One was a notable in Best American Essays, 2016. Abraham is an Associate Professor and Founding Director of the MFA in Fiction at Western New England University. She is also the editor of the “S for Sentence” webpage. Learn more about her work at pearlabraham.com.
I am the founding editor of S for Sentence, a webpage that celebrates lyricism in prose, the play and craft at work in the artful sentence. We post a sentence a month along with comments by a guest writer on the craft that shapes it, on what makes it great. In one or two sentences.
I teach MFA craft seminars on sound, and have organized and performed Sound Makes Sense panels at AWP conferences in Seattle, Minneapolis and Tampa Bay.
Work with Me
I am offering Sound Makes Sense seminars (1-, 2-, or 3-day) to students of all ages. To schedule one for your students, get in touch with me using my contact form to discuss rates, scheduling and more.