Writing Poetry

Write A Hollywood Villanelle

A villanelle is a 6 stanza poem that consists of five tercets and one quatrain. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas is a famous villanelle.

How To Write A Villanelle



We’re going to turn your favorite movie into a villanelle (Hollywood Villanelle).

What is a Villanelle?
A villanelle (also known as villanesque) is a 6 stanza poem that consists of:
  • five tercets (3 line stanzas), and
  • one quatrain (4 line stanza).

Check out our page on Stanzas and poetic sentence structure.

The villanelle has a very unique structure.
  • There are two refrains (entire lines that are repeated) and two repeating rhymes (repeated sounds).
  • Lines 1 and 3 of the opening stanza are the refrains that will alternate in stanzas 2-5.
  • The repeating rhymes will begin stanzas 2-6.
  • The last stanza, will end with both lines.

Notes:
What are we doing?
  1. Go watch a movie!
  2. Try to summarize the movie using bullet points. Here are some questions to get you started:
    • How did it begin?
    • Who are the main characters?
    • When/where does it take place?
    • What is the conflict?
    • What is the goal?
    • What is the resolution?
    • How did it end?
  3. Think of major scenes and themes. Note them.
  4. Now lay your story into the structure of a villanelle. Seem daunting? Never fear:


What is that going to look like?
In the example below, a highlight means that the entire phrase is going to be repeated (refrain). An underline means that just the sound at the end is going to be repeated (rhyme). This one’s based on the movie “Labyrinth,” starring David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly, because it’s just wonderful:

A1  "My will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great"
B    is as far as Sarah got. She could never remember
A2  "You have no power over me" the lines to seal her fate.  

A   She’d said her right words, and now it was too late.
B   So into the Labyrinth she went to find her brother.
A1  "My will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great" 

 A    Was her mantra as she entered Jared’s gate.
B    Through dangers untold and hardships without number,
A2   "You have no power over me" the lines to seal her fate  

A    Would steady her resolve and guide her gait.
B     She made friends on her journey, both kind and clever.
A1    Her will was as strong as Jared’s, and her kingdom as great. 

A     At times her progress Jared did negate.
B     He hoped that she would forget for forever
A2   "You have no power over me" the lines to seal her fate.  

A     But when she’d fought her way through his estate
B     She found within her, burning like an ember
A1    "My will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great." 
A2    "You have no power over me" the lines to seal her fate.

This exercise is great for hobbyists and professionals. Teachers, I bet your high school and college students will have fun with this one! I had a ton! Share your Hollywood Villanelle writing experience in the comments!
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