Category Archives: Weird Writing

How Many Genres Can You Mix?

“Shields up,” Captain Ransom Nevermore barked.

“Aye aye, Captain,” said First Officer Angelina Octarina, just before the AI unit attacked her, ripping the top of her uniform half off as he moaned with repressed desire.  She grabbed the tattered shreds of her uniform and tried to conceal her two ivory orbs.

The resident deconstructionist author tapped her note pad.  “Can someone turn off that AI unit?  His moaning is making it hard for me to write this fascinating multi-genre interaction.”

“El Capitan,” said Jefe Carlos, materializing on the bridge with five Mexican banditos wearing battered sombreros.  “Hand over your weapons, por favor, or we will have to toast you over a slow fire.”

The incognito Secret Special Forces Agent in Charge stepped forward to confront Jefe Carlos.  “Produce your Certification of Authority, or I will be forced to put you under arrest.”

Carlos sneered.  “Badges?  We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.”

“Did someone say the Badgers stink?” A man in a plaid flannel shirt and baseball cap that had a big red W on it barged forward, looking for someone to fight.  “We’re 14 and 1.  We’re going to the Rose Bowl and UCLA better watch their backs and eat their sox.”

“Here’s my trenchcoat, sweetheart,” the man with the Fedora told Angelina Octarina.  He spoke with a Camel dangling from his lip.  “We can’t have those twin bazookas distracting the troops.”

Chief Engineer Wonky Spanner stuck his head up through a floor hatch.  “I’ve fixed the shields, Captain.  All it took was some ladies’ hair pins, a sticking plaster, and a Rube Goldberg contraption I put together from an umbrella, a bicycle pump, and sixteen gears driven by a moaning AI unit I handcuffed to a treadmill.”

Meanwhile Carlos and his banditos had begun to harmonize to an upbeat version of La Bamba.  Not to be outdone, the man in the Fedora teamed up with the Agent in Charge to croon a melancholy, One for My Baby, and One More for the Road.  Incensed, Captain Nevermore and Engineer Spanner tried to tune everyone out by breaking into the chorus of Nessun Dorma, from an opera by Puccini.

First Officer Angelina Octarina looked around, sighed, and straightened her trenchcoat.  She waved at the writer, said the magic words, and disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

Practice Being Accurate

If you’re here, you are a writer, and you pay attention to words.  Here are some vague terms that are constantly thrown around, and as a writer, I’m increasingly annoyed.  Here are my attempts at suggesting clarification.  Please feel free to add your own phrases and interpretations.

The Establishment:  This description is as insulting as “you people.”  It could mean anything from the local County Supervisors and your local library staff, to the House of Representatives, all lobbyists (from gun rights supporters to environmental activists) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Time to define our terms and find exactly the right words to capture what we mean.

Elites:  Who are they? Are they people in power like a county supervisor or the sheriff?  Do all elites live on the east coast or are they also rich movie stars?  Do you get to be one if you are educated?  Is the head of a union an elite? Does it mean you’re a boss?  Are you an elite if you supervise six people who run popcorn, funnel cake, and cotton candy stands at the local county fair?  Another meaningless term.

“I read somewhere that people are saying….”  Let’s all agree, once and for all, that the phrases, “people are saying” or “they say” do not represent credible sources.  These phrases mean nothing since somewhere people are also saying that the earth is flat.  One more logical fallacy.

Globalization:  This sounds like a tidal wave that will engulf us all.  But what is it really?  Is it a secret plot against people who hold low wage jobs in America?  Is it something “the elite” and “the establishment” are conning us with so they can get richer?  Is it here to stay or can we destroy it with a suicide vest?  Perhaps it is the logical result of the technology that increasingly links us all at the speed of light.  Perhaps it’s the result of better nutrition, cleaner water, and more available medical care across the globe.  A bad thing?  Something to accept or vilify?

Wall Street: Another vague generalization.  Does this term include only the people that work there or perhaps anyone who has a 401K?  If I work on Wall Street, invest in stocks, or live nearby, am I evil?  Where does Wall Street begin and Main Street end?  Sure wish the media would stop using vague terms.

Main Street:  My mental image of Main Street is very Midwestern U.S.  There are the late 1800’s storefronts, refurbished to bring in new shops, many of whom go out to business in six months.  The competition is rough out there because of malls and places with huge parking lots.  But somehow, Main Street never seems to evoke manufacturing or farming.  So misleading.  I know many farmers, but they don’t ever think of themselves as Main Street.

Immigration:  Another term that has become over generalized so that demagogues can use it to scare people and get attention.  Some questions that might add clarity are:  Are there “good” immigrants and “bad” immigrants?  Like my friend from India who came over in 1985, went through all the bureaucratic steps, and become a citizen–is he now a bad guy?  Is the country of origin a rule-out?  (Syria, Mexico, or any country with darker skins?) If all the immigrants were from Great Britain, Germany, and France, would this be an issue?  If we all agree that prejudice against our immigrant grandparents was unfair, how did immigration somehow become bad?

Polarizing:  How easy it is to get angry and fight.  How we love our own anger (“I feel it so strongly, it must be right!”).  How soothing it is to find someone to blame for any injustice done to us (whether by family member, government, or some suspect ethnic group).  How comfy and self-satisfying it feels to identify with “us” and suspect “them.”  What is much more difficult is to pause and consider how much we are alike, how those people who are somehow “them” are also struggling to make it through adolescence/young adulthood, raise families, or deal with aging parents.   We’re all struggling to find meaningful work, a place to have shelter, cook whatever we can find, and protect our loved ones from all problems.  Coming together is hard; fighting is way too easy.

 

Can You Write Seven Sentences that Make NO Sense?

It’s hard.  Themes want to emerge.  Humans have an urge toward meaning.  Trees want to be guardians.  The moon is a sister.  Peanut butter turns out to be a memory of childhood.  Even the damn cracked concrete driveway suggests a journey.

But perhaps we can stimulate our creativity backwards by adding the pressure of resisting meaning, of not bowing to the urge to let those associations and connections come.

Here are mine.  Complete sentences only!   Let me ponder yours.    I would like that.

Bark is blood.

Rebecca hands down rubber band wraps.

Brilliant, dried up sandwich meat drives off.

Oxen sunshine wins the pickle.

Father Betty put gloves on stools.

Falling face powder signals a new peace.

Add up all the mouse trap do-overs.

Can you do this?

To Do List Fiction

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to create a To Do list that, when read, tells us a story. Keep in mind that To Do lists can have multiple parts or sections, that they do change from day to day, with things often crossed out, and that they are typically something we use but don’t share and therefore tend to be not only personal, but often secret. Good exercise in subtext and “showing, not telling.” Dive in!

Names that Need Characters to go with Them

Who is:

Wheedle Distromb

Offerlo Spitrip

Sister “Sweetie” Beetiara

Doonuts Rebarb

Klobflots Flabos

Time for More Meaninglessness

You’d think that the quest for meaning would be all encompassing for writers. Perhaps not. I think stretching to find a way to create meaningless phrases is one more way to exercise your lurking creativity.  You’re grabbing far past sense and logic.

Creating meaningless phrases isn’t as easy as you might think. I’ll try a few here, but I’m sure you can do better.

  • Robots scrim novice notebook paper
  • Teabags undercut turquoise sidewalks
  • Run! Sandstorm eats blanket assumptions
  • Gravity overtones grind turkey loaf

Dive in and sequence dance moves in purple.

The Non-Dialogue

Write a dialogue between two people who never quite listen to what the other person is saying. It ends up as two different conversations, where neither of them ever quite realizes that they are not on the same page and are not talking about the same thing.