Sunday, August 30, 2009


Here are a few approaches to consider while composing narratives:

- Compression/compressed narrative: Summarize a novel's worth of events in 2000 words. A 250 word story....

- Inversion: Make good guys into bad guys, invert moral or social codes, etc. If you are a Democrat, write a story about a jolly hunting trip with Sarah Palin. If you are a Republican, write a story that passionately advocates socialized medicine.... Satirical or not, it will be amusing.... Alternative history or current events....

- Substitution: Substitute fire trucks for tidally-winks, circuit chips for Bibles, what have you.

- Lists: Longs lists of funny words to produce satirical effects, or to wind the reader through landscapes of sense data stimulus. Could a grocery list serve as a plot outline? Why not?

- Telephone directories: See lists

- Catalogs: Write stories about pictures, consumer themes; if those pictures could talk, what would they say?

- Criticism: Novel as critical commentary, a la Pale Fire. Using the voice of a critic to tell a story....

- Pedantic voice, pedantic forms: see above.

- Instruction manual or handbook: Could a pilot's checklist be adapted as a plot line?

- Advertisements: TV, newspapers, radio....

- Pulp action/adventure/sci-fi: "elevate" a traditional generic form to "literary" status through over-burdened cleverness, big words, and satirical intentions. Not necessarily parody, but parody is OK too of course.

- Hypochondria/obsessive-compulsion: a sort of craven fixation upon plot elements, imagery, or the representation of emotional states: example, a lurid description of a soldier cleaning his rifle, or an oral surgeon hammering away at impacted wisdom teeth....

- Hysteria: hyperbolic description, emotions run amok, purple prose, etc.

- Mock Epic: See Alexander Pope "Rape of the Lock."

- Cut-Up and Fold-In Technique:


Anonymous said...

You cannot be serious about the 'lists' and the 'catalogues', are you?

Carter Kaplan said...

Why not?

The ideas is to not only explore new possibilities for inspiration, but the frontier of what constitutes narrative as well.