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How to Write: Week 10: Focus and Emphasis: Sunday (Method)

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     Every piece should have a focus or emphasis. Certainly you can write a piece without a focus or emphasis, but it doesn’t seem likely you or anyone will glean anything, but gibberish. If that is the point then maybe your focus was indeed gibberish.
    Your focus is not limited to subject matter. It can be a technique or a particular form you want to showcase. You might specifically put end rhymes and stops (periods, dashes, etc) so people will notice the rhymes and know upon hearing the poem it is a sonnet or villanelle, etc.
    While focus is important, remember to not let it get in the way of the expression. Focusing a piece can sometimes be better for the crafting process after the expression is put onto the paper.
    You can show emphasis mechanically in the poem with underlining, bold, italics or ALL CAPITALIZED words. This is largely determined by your aesthetic preference or the needs of the piece. Mechanical emphasis is another way to make sure the audience knows the focus, but this is not always the case.  You might just be showing emphasis of a particular word or phrase.
    Your focus should be fairly easy to discern by anyone who reads or hears your piece more than once.
Other lessons from this course.

Azriel Johnson is an inkspatter analyst and a serial writer by night. He runs a small, not money losing publishing press and a weekly open mic with monthly features called Writing Knights Press.

1 comment:

  1. I will partially demur on this one. I absolutely agree with the main point-- a poem (or a story, or a novel, or even a blog post!) needs focus: the most critical thing about saying something is that you need to have something to say (and you need to know what it is that you need to say).
    But: if a poem is well written, you don't need to emphasize points with underlining, bold, all caps, or whatever. Your focus should be clear from your words, not your type face. If your point isn't clear unless you put it in boldfaced italics: you're doing it wrong.
    (I'll also point out that all the techniques mentioned earlier in the series are also ways of emphasizing. A well-chosen line-break can make a point a bit more subtly than bold font.)