September 28, 2011

different writing forms

So, it’s common knowledge that I’m a novelist. I write novels. It’s what I do. It’s all I do, and that may not be the best thing. When I start a project, I immediately think of it in novel format, an overarching story of 60,000–80,000 words. Maybe I should start thinking smaller.

Maybe I should write some shorter fiction, just to break things up a bit, to train myself in brevity. And of course, to have fun. I love short fiction. The shorter the better. Most of my short stories come in at less than 1000 words. The longer ones rarely go on more than 1500 words. Then there are the sweet select few that are less than 500 words. Those tend to be my favorite. They’re punchy, poetic, and rather alliterative. Here is one that I particularly love that’s less than 150 words. And it’s best read aloud.

Om Nom Nom

The machine is a banging, booming, buzzing, clacking, clanking, creaking, clanging, clinking, ringing, roaring, shrieking, singing, and snorting god of destruction

In the famished furnace, the furious fires of hell feast upon the filth of foolish men – its teeth of stainless steel crunching and munching on the rubbish and junk until the claptrap, flimflam, prattle and piffle of people is slammed, smashed, shattered, splintered, scrunched, squashed and squished into smoldering slag.

The belly of the beast brims with the burning, bubbling blend that once belonged to the bleating beings that bedeviled the big blue ball, and then the whine of the wailing whistle warns the wired workers that the widget wants a while to rest.

Give it some time, and the machine starts banging, booming, buzzing again, clacking, clanking, creaking, clanging, clinking again, ringing, roaring, shrieking, singing, snorting, and smashing again until the remnants of man are no more.

I’m pretty sure that’s the most alliterative thing I’ve ever written. I love alliteration. That aside, I think it’s good to break out of your usual form of writing and try something different. Make it a challenge. I wrote the above flash piece as a joke, seeing how much alliteration I could cram into as short a space as possible, but it was a challenge. I think I grew as a writer afterward.

Now the most challenging type of writing for me is poetry. I abhor poetry. The structure, the rhyming—it’s all so tedious. But what did I find myself doing last night? Writing a poem. A rhyming poem. A structured poem. I challenged myself. I took my nemesis and I folded him to my will, shaping him into a somewhat awful poem of rhyming couplets.

I’ll share it anyway, because if nothing else, I’m proud of myself. So here it is, a curse that belongs in the novel I’m working on now.

To he who has a heart of stone,
My torment now is yours to know.
To love a maiden fair and pure,
To see her death come slow and sure,
When naught can save her broken soul,
When her fair skin turns hard and cold,
Then you will know my suffering heart,
And thirteen times you’ll play the part.
These maidens fair in stone will sleep
Until their final sister weeps,
And he with heart of stone will die,
When last the thirteenth maiden cries.

I’m proud of myself. It took a whopping two hours to write, about six drafts and four discarded couplets. It rhymes. It has structure, employing iambic quadrameter without any metrical substitutions. And it makes sense. No nonsense, metaphysical poetry from me. I say what I mean. I don’t hide it or try to elevate it to some higher level of understanding. Simple. That’s how I do it. Whether the poem itself is any good or not, only poetry proficients will know.

The important thing is I stepped out of my comfort zone. I challenged myself with a different writing form. And I think it helped unclog this nasty writer’s block I’ve been having.

I now challenge you to try something else. It might just inspire you.

Do you write in a single form, or do you spread your writing across several forms? What is your favorite: novels, short stories, flash fiction, free-verse poetry, structured poetry?

1 comment:

  1. I favor novels. There's so much you can make happen, see evolve, see de-evolve.

    With the Writer's Platform-Building Campaign, I've enjoyed the 200 word flash fiction challenges. I'm also considering doing a short story submission to Enchanted Conversations.