Writing Ideas (I)

I would like to let my readers know that I will shortly be posting in a new format, where I’ll be riffing off of articles, essays and stories that I’ve read and that I think can lead to interesting new forms of writing when mildly modified. These could be beginnings of short stories or novels, or entire news articles. I might severely condense them in length, or merely change some words here and there. I might have the original available online or not. I rather think it will be more fun if the original is not online, and for the full enjoyment of what I’ve written, you will need to purchase the original. That way, my work can also be a spur for the sales of some other writer’s work. This will increase my karma and ensure me a better life in Heaven or in my next incarnation on this planet.

My endeavor, or idea, might be better understood with the aid of an example. Suppose we take the famous short story that begins thus:

“It was a dark and stormy night. The trees howled wildly with the force of a chained devil. Rain poured heavily down from the indignant heavens, battering whatever it hit — the craggy mountain side, the tops of thatched barns, and the hides of unfortunate creatures that had not found shelter from it — with merciless repetition. Through this night, we can see a single car make its dreary way up the hillside road to a small farm house that stood right at the top of a knoll.”

When I come upon this piece of writing, I might think, let us say, that it lacks a certain sense of absurdity and throw it in there to see what might happen. Imagine taking a favorite cocktail of yours and changing the Syrah for some Tempranillo, or the tequila for some cachaça, or the Irish whiskey for some bourbon. The paragraph then becomes something like this:

“The night was dark and stormy, for it had just been in a big fight with the day and it really had a hard time being in the sun. The trees howled wildly with the force of a chained devil. The rain came down heavily. The heavens were indignant — they had heard what the Day had said about the Night. Caught in the cross fire were the craggy mountain side, the tops of thatched barns, and the hides of unfortunate creatures that had not run fast enough to find shelter from the wrath of the skies. Oblivious of this battle between these Titans, a single car made its dreary way up the hillside road to a small farm house that stood right at the top of a knoll. We saw it approach, and we knew things were going to get far worse.”

You see? The same basic ingredient, mixed around a little, give us an altogether new experience. This is how everything else works in the world of aesthetics — cuisine, music, architecture, art. It’s about time someone brought this process to the boring world of literature, where every one has to start working on something entirely new or entirely derivative, neither of which approaches is fun at all.

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