Thursday, July 25, 2013

Formats

As I attended college, I read Chuck Palahniuk like he was going out of style. I was mostly inspired by Fight Club the movie, then moved on to his other bodies of work. One thing remained somewhat consistent: he experiments with story forms, often changing the format of his story so that the physical form contributes to the story itself.

He explains it well in Invisible Monsters (my all-time favorite novel) as he describes how the pages are supposed to be like, "flip back to page whatever whatever" to continue with the story. In Diary, the story is...well...a diary. In Survivor, the chapters are numbered backwards, and in Rant, everything is shuffled because it's an oral history (think documentary in book form). I've been fascinated with this idea, of making things more accessible to those who don't read. I work with kids, and they don't like to read because the stories aren't interesting enough for them, or don't catch their attention. They need the fast payoff, and as much as I hate to feed that pattern as a teacher, I see the necessity as a writer.

*sigh*

So, I'm wondering if it's not a bad thing to want to play with story forms, create a different format, and see what different ways there are to weave a story. I have only really experimented once: I wrote a novel in letters to a ghost who was haunting the protagonist. The agent I showed it to hated the idea of letters, but found interest in the story.

Dean Wesley Smith says try to have fun when you write. Chuck Palahniuk had claimed once that we have to be the new creative voices--write like movies--to get people to read and evolve the form.

Just now, I'm thinking of doing an urban legends story and breaking it down into five narrators, Seven Types of Ambiguity style. I hope it works. :)

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