Spoon River Anthology
Tips for Getting Started
Writing an Epitaph
1. Fill out the plan sheet on the other side of these instructions.
2. Write the name of your character a the top of the page.
3. Pretend that you are that character and are, in essence, speaking from the great
beyond. You will be writing in the first person. You will use the pronoun “I.”
4. Choose one of the details from your plan sheet that you – as the character – feel
strongly about. Write a sentence about that. You might choose some feeling
about someone with whom you (the character) had a relationship. You might
write the sentence about how you died. You might choose an event that was
important as the subject of your first line of the epitaph.
5. Once you have begun, continue letting the thoughts and strong emotions of the
character come out. Remember that in this type of epitaph you are telling only
those thoughts and feelings that are so strong as to have you “speaking from your
6. Once you believe you are done, read your epitaph aloud. Make changes where
necessary – so that your writing flows. It should sound like someone speaking.
7. What poetic devices did you use?
Alliteration, repetition, resonance, irony, allusion, or metaphor.
Did you use rich language, interesting adjectives, adverbs, nouns, and verbs?
Is there a strong sense of personality?
Remember to look at the “required elements” on the rubric.
Share your epitaph with a friend at this point and make further changes if
1. Now make the decisions about the physical arrangement of the words in lines. Do
you want each sentence to be on one line? Do you want some words to be in a
line by themselves for emphasis? As long as you are making conscious choices
about where the line breaks occur you should be fine.
2. Hand in your final copy.
Epitaph Plan Sheet
Name of “deceased”
How majority of time was
How the character felt about
Describe one important
relationship this character had
Significant life events
Character’s outlook on life
Character’s advice to the
Hobbies and spare time
Emotions and feelings about
other people in the character’s