Here we are with week three, find a quiet spot and your Saxon notebook…
(45MINS TO 2HRS)
Riddles were very popular. Whole books of them survive. They are easy to find online – beware of Answers/Solutions before you read! Some are ‘unsolved’. Gollum’s riddles in Tolkien are just this kind of thing.
Why? Because you have to read them out loud, they need an audience, you probably have to repeat them while people guess, so they’re nice and social, and merry – none of this writing about roses and love in an attic while your heart breaketh.
When you compose a riddle always be thinking of what it will be like read out loud.
(i) Write a 1st line AS THE THING. The THING can be anyTHING – a pillow, cloud, skyscraper, sponge, ant, kangaroo, fork, swamp, book – (often the kitchen is a good place to start).
example : ‘I am a skyscraper’.
(ii) now add, say, 3-10 more lines (always as the object, ‘I’) that describe or show things about you. They can be thoughts and feelings, shapes, colours, physical traits, what you are made to do, your job etc.
example : ‘I am a skyscraper / I stand higher than any man / I watch the world with hundreds of eyes / I have really heavy weighted feet (or ‘my boots sit in concrete’) / my head is sometimes in the clouds / I have people inside me …’
(iii) nearly done already. Now just eliminate your first line – which is now the Answer.
(iv) then half-line your lines – and alliterate them as you did in your simple sentences last week.
I stand high sure as a hero (‘s’ and ‘h’ on both sides of the divide)
my oodles of eyes watch the wind (‘w’ and a bit of assonance in the 1st half-line)
my crowned head holds up clouds
I eat all my enemies
Done. You can now write as many as you like.
REMEMBER! A super-good riddle is not too hard so people give up. But hard enough to get them guessing. A super-super-good riddle leads people down the garden path (ie. answer seems obvious as something, but it isn’t that thing. Saxons loved making the answers look like something Very Rude so no one dared say it, and then revealed a perfectly innocent solution).
So the Skyscraper can be a giant, but it ain’t !
Write lots, and try them out on folks. Perhaps now, because riddles are short, you can start thinking about recording, videoing, calligraphy, embroidery and photos of riddles written in the sand/on walls etc.
Next Week, Week 4 : Hauling with Heroes – we start to get seriously Splendid.
Remember to send any work that you would like looked at to firstname.lastname@example.org