Table of Forms

LITERATURE
LABORATORY

 
A blur of linguistic activity.

Experiments

Writing experiments by Bernadette Mayer.

20-Consonant Poetry

is a new poetic form, useful for creating poetry + art. Practice the technique at the Jade Quill salon.

Analyzing Haze

In a variation of a progressive alliterative technique used in Walter Abish's Alphabetic Africa, Analyzing Haze is a story of 26 paragraphs, each corresponding to a letter of the alphabet. In the first paragraph, every word must contain A. In the second paragraph, every word must contain A or B, etcetera, such that the last paragraph's words may include any letter. However, this final paragraph is not unconstrained, because, to offset this progressive opening of vocabulary, the story is also fully homoliteral—every two adjacent words must have a letter in common.

Deep Speed

is a web-based palindrome authoring tool to help you write new palindromes.

Enformulator

by Chris Merritt is an astonishing online experimental poetry validation tool.

The Mechanics and Kinematics of Web-Work Plot Construction

by Harry Stephen Keeler might be the best manual of fiction writing in the English language.

Multisequential fiction

is fiction with more than one explicit reading path. Letter to Linus is a hypertext fiction based on the shape of a cube. For one example of how to go about this, read a structural explanation of Dow and Union Carbide to Merge. Trade Names is a work of multisequential fiction in the form of a strip book. And then there's the Unknown.

Nightmare Variations

In this story, the maximum number of words per sentence decreases at a decreasing rate. Until the last sentence. It is based on a nightmare.

Oblique Strategies

assembled by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt, are a deck of cards inscribed with instructions useful in composition, especially for larger unfinished works that seem to have run aground. This only works if you trust it. Take a deep breath before you click. Click again to draw a different card. Or look up “oblique strategies” on the web.

October Friday

Dirk Stratton's new poetic form is edifying to unravel, to try out, and as an example of how any arbitrary phrase might be translated into a larger and more abstract structure.

Reversed Chronology

A narrative is a sequence of events. What happens if you reverse the sequence? There is no single best way to do this. Canonical examples include the film Memento, in which the scenes of the film are shown in reverse order, and the novel Time's Arrow, by Martin Amis, a story told in reverse.

To reverse the sequence of a story or poem, you could reverse the order of letters, reverse the order of words, reverse the order of lines, reverse the order of events, or even reverse the grammar. Variations on the New York Times 2: Death of Scent, Fury of Sound (Newspoem 4 May 1999) was written by extracting all the quotations from an article in the New York Times and reversing their subjects and objects.

The Story That Teaches You How To Write It

is an exploration of narrative form using as a starting point structuralist narratology, but geared toward the purposes of the creative writer rather than literary critic

Structural Translations Between Literature and Music

an essay exploring literary form, written language as a score, and translating writing into music

Table of Forms

is a collection of interlinked writing exercises and examples

Variations on Looking Back

in a graduate fiction workshop led by Curt White, I became intrigued by a classmate's story. First I counted the number of words, and then tried to reduce that number to one quarter of the original number. I then explored this succinct translation in various permutations.

Variations on a Plot Curve

Freitag's plot triangle is a classic formal structure in literature. The triangle describes the narrative arc of an immersive work of ficton. The X axis is time and the Y axis is dramatic conflict: beginning at zero, the curve steadily rises in exposition, peaks in climax, and rapidly descends in resolution. As readers (or film viewers), we recognize this structure and find it gratifying. But what happens when you write a story with a different curve?

In this experiment, you can click on the plot diagrams to hear a musical translation of the variation on a plot curve.

The Cervantes Writing Engine

allows you to write and revise Don Quixote, the novel by Cervantes

Write 1000 words.Write with your friends.

Lab.

here > there

 

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