(Poetic) “Win” – Enrich your writing

“Win” by Harlan Coben

 Created using images from: Pexels.com – Cottonbro.

This excerpt is taken from “Win” by Harlan Coben. A crime thriller published by Cornerstone Digital (2021).

Chapter 3
Young and Lopez want an explanation. I start with the complete truth: I had not seen the suitcase in many years. How many years? Here my memory becomes foggier.

Many, I say. More than ten? Yes. More than twenty? I shrug.

Could I at least confirm that the suitcase had belonged to me? No, I would need a closer look, to be able to open it and look at its contents. Young doesn't like that. I didn't think she would. But can't I at least confirm the suitcase is mine just by looking at it?

I couldn't for certain, sorry, I tell them. But those are your initials and your family crest, Lopez reminds me. They are, I say, but that doesn't mean someone didn't make up a duplicate suitcase. Why would someone do that? I have no idea. And so it goes.

Simplification (the "bare bones" of the text):
Young and Lopez want an explanation about the suitcase: it’s been missing for many years. They interrogate me. The suitcase has my family crest and logo on it. Why can’t I confirm it?

Rewrite the text into a poem or poetic style.
Give the impression that the two agents are very successful.

Poems don't have to rhyme, but they can do. Writing a poem is like painting a picture with words. You will need to use figurative language and express images with words.

For example:

"Sweat puddled in the shelves of his furrowed brow; excitement, fear, and tension shortened his breath. Hope harder to come by now, like a tightrope walker carefully traversing the gaping jaws of doom."

Whereas a rhyming poem might involve the following phrases:
A furrowed brow, my hope is weak;
a tear of sweat crawling down my cheek.
Heart is pumping, chest is tight;
I fight to stay calm with all my might.

This is an exercise of creating images and emotions with words. There are lots of different styles of poetry. The main goal is to have fun!

One room. Humid. Waiting.
Like waiting for a fight; like waiting in a ring.
Tense, drumming clock. Throbbing seconds, throbbing neck.
Imaginary crowd, baying for blood.
Blood flowing, brain swelling.
Room closing in, courage walking out.
In steps the law: male and female.
Strong, sure, near perfect record. Intimidating.
They hold the belt, they are the champs.
So many before have fallen at their feet.
So many were sure, so many met defeat
Can I withstand their blows? Will I still be standing at the bell?
Throat tenses, I gulp down saliva. Sweat beads on my brow.
What happens now?
What happens now?
Thoughts swirling… I’ve done nothing wrong.
But it won’t be long till I sing their song.
Questions teasing, questions gnawing.
Scratching for memories… memories fading.
More questions leaning on my brain.
More questions causing me such a strain.
A little more tense now.
Intense inquisition, a parry and a cross;
An uppercut, a jab…
"That suitcase is yours", they say.
"We found it at the scene."
Haymaker. Blood drains. Face feeling cold.
Imaginary crowd roars as I slump my head.
Speech slurred: “But, but…!”
I don’t know what to do.
I don’t know what to do…
They stand over me. Satisfied with their victory.

Ready to paint a picture with words?

Rewrite the excerpt as a poem or in a poetic style, to give the impression that the two agents are very successful.
Aim for 150-250 words.

Click on the button below to join in (Comments on all 3 exercises will appear at the end of the lesson.)

When students have submitted work, the teacher will choose examples to show here along with corrections and suggestions.

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