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Experimental Writing

March 8, 2012

I went to an art museum today, the Frist Center in Nashville.  (You, Scott?  Really?)  Yes, really.  I went with some friends.  The main exhibit was nice.  Maybe I’ll write more on my impressions of that later on.  But there was also a secondary gallery, “Fairy Tales, Monsters, and Genetic Creativity”.  Now that sounded right up my alley.

It was…odd.  Some of the stuff was neat.  A lot of it was just weird and I didn’t get it.  Which brings me to the point: how do you know when a format that is great in your head works inside other people’s heads?

The story I just finished is written as a series of audio logs recorded by a guy who survives his space ship’s destruction.  In the beginning, the recording has a purpose and he has some recorded dialog with a shipmate.  Then his ship blows up and he’s got no one to talk to, so he just talks into the recorder. He ends up having two-way conversations with a satellite, but of course we only hear his side.

Sound tough to pull off?  It does to me.  I think it works, but I’m not sure.  I could just as easily (and more confidently) pull the story off with a 3rd person telling.  Why risk it?

I risk it because it (hopefully) makes the story memorable, unique, and brings the reader into the character’s situation more completely than a standard narrative, and in this story, sympathy is pretty much key.  The style just makes sense to me.

Messing around with narrative form is about as artsy as I usually get.  I don’t usually resort to bizarre imagery or creative dialect or subtle literary devices (all wonderful things, but not really what I do.)  Nor do I diverge from mainstream storytelling techniques often.  I like to play in this medium.

  • “ZFL” is 100% dialog, no attributions or anything. (Every Day Fiction)
  • “Leech Run” steps out of Titan’s PoV for only a few seconds in the entire story, but the scene refused to be written any other way.  (Zero Gravity anthology and Escape Pod)
  • S.R. alternates between first person perspective and an instant messenger style. (Perpetually unsold despite being what I consider one of my best.)
  • H.P. alternates between third person narrative and tweets. (Not sent out; needs new ending but I haven’t gotten back to it.)
  • The narrator in T.W.H.D.o.t.G.M.P. erases the fourth wall and talks directly to the reader for (allegedly) comedic effect.  (unsold)

Those are a few examples off the top of my head.  Nothing earth shattering, but a definite trend to tinker with delivery.  It’s good to experiment.  How else will you know what doesn’t work?

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