Tuesday, June 11

Posted by Laurel Garver on Tuesday, June 11, 2013 8 comments
by Jessica Bell

The first word of advice I was given about writing stories in verse was that you can’t just break a short story into lines and call it “verse.”

This is true.

It’s also not.

Because ultimately, that’s what I did with Muted.

Muted was a normal short story to begin with. It was first published in an anthology called From Stage Door Shadows. But I wanted to publish it as a stand-alone piece, too. Mainly because I loved the story and thought it deserved a piece of the limelight.

I did want it to be a little more innovative though, as I’m the type of writer who likes to push boundaries and not conform. The story itself is quite unique, so I wanted to highlight this by making the format unique too. Also, the subject matter is horrific. And I didn’t want it to just be “a horrific story.” I wanted it to be beautiful, too. So turning it into verse created a great juxtaposition.

By writing Muted in verse, I was able to accent the emotion via clever line breaks, a bit of internal rhyme, alliteration, onomatopoeia and unusual formatting. Things that would normally bog a traditional short story down, if done in excess. But in verse? It works. And I believe gives the story an even stronger emotional pull.

But I didn’t just insert line breaks into the prose. After doing this, I had to reevaluate the story as a whole new piece of work. I tweaked a lot of lines to create double meanings in the line breaks, added new elements to the story, amped up the emotion with the poetic devices I mentioned above, and made sure the rhythm of each line flowed naturally, steadily, and rolled off the tongue.

Have you ever written a short story in verse? How did you go about it?

About Muted

What if it were illegal to wear clothes?

What if it were the law to wear a temperature-controlled body suit made of fetus membrane ... every day?

What if you were a singer, and it was illegal to sing?

What if you sang anyway, and got detained by a LEO, and punished by having your vocal chords violently slashed, and eardrums perforated?

What if multiple offenders were killed for their skin?

Would you commit suicide? Drown yourself in the river?

Concetta would.

But something stops her in her tracks ...

Purchase muted: a short story in verse
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Ca 

About Jessica

The Australian-native contemporary fiction author and poet, Jessica Bell, also makes a living as an editor and writer for global ELT publishers (English Language Teaching), such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

She is the co-publishing editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and the director of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca.

Connect with Jessica online:
website | retreat & workshop | blog | Vine Leaves Journal | Facebook | Twitter

CLICK HERE  to subscribe to Jessica’s newsletter. Every subscriber will receive The Hum of Sin Against Skin for free, and be the first to know about new releases and special subscriber giveaways.


  1. Thank you so much for having me today, Laurel!

    1. You're most welcome! Thanks for sharing your insights about experimenting with form. It sounds like a pretty cool thing to try.

  2. Hey Jessica, nice to meet you! I think it's really cool that you wrote a short story in verse. There's really no such thing as "you can't" in creative mediums like art and writing. Muted sounds intriguing; thanks for sharing with us!

    Shout out to Laurel as well; hope you're having a great week!

    ~Wendy Lu

    The Red Angel

    1. Hi Wendy! I agree wholeheartedly that experimentation in literature and art is a good thing. Without it, every medium becomes stale.

      Jessica gets me itching to try verse fiction myself! Thanks for coming by!

  3. Honestly, I can't imagine writing a story in verse. I adore poetry and think those who pen it are some of the most imaginative people alive, but a whole story? Whew! That takes some moxie.

  4. I love Ellen Hopkins' books, but I would never be able write stories in verse. And after reading Jessica's explanation, I know I can't write them.

  5. I read Muted and it's awesome. Love the idea of it and the fact it's darkly poetic. Cool to read how it came about. Seeing as Jessica is a songwriter too, it makes sense she'd find this to be natural in her storytelling. Matter of fact, she should make it into a song. :)

  6. I don't think I've ever read a short story in verse! (Unless you consider narrative poems to be short stories in verse.) That's a really cool idea. Congrats to Jessica!

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines