Word games or story?

I recently finished one of David Crystal’s excellent books on the subject of word games, Language Play. Oh what fun! It is full of anagrams, puns, palindromes, and other exercises in word bending that, on their face, might seem to have no bearing on the process of creating and telling tales. As yet, I am not convinced of there being a great value in some of the protracted flourishes (writing an entire nov_l without using the l_tt_r  “_” com_s to mind) but I did enjoy setting some odd rules and watching what path a story might take in telling itself:

It tasted tall, wet, cold, with a hint of draft, and a top note: the ooze of decaying trees. So they drank tall cold drafts to wet their whistles with the milk of forestry indifference. There were a slue of slugabed pleasures in slumbering slumped like lotus eaters while sluicing slush over their whistles: slurping sluts.

Into my box of jig-saw puzzle pieces it goes, its utility as yet unknown. Some great poet–and I’m sure I’ll be pointed in the right direction by a Google master, a thing which would have been thought of as a rare and poisonous serpent until as recently as 1995–once said that the rules of the dance for writing poetry made it more interesting because it forced him in unforeseen directions.  Why limit this sentiment to poetry? Any set of rules for writing, even the most arcane or eccentric, can push you off the mountain track and into a new landscape. Having avalaunched yourself into the wild blue wander, you’ll need to turn on your editorial rescue beacon. The process of selection and the process of creation need to stay in different cages until that which has been created is ready for pruning.

If you have munched this far through my salad bowl of metaphors, I issue you a challenge: select an unusual prefix or opening phonetic fragment and construct an alliterative sentence using several examples. Place this gem in a setting by writing around it with some storyesque additions.  Edit for glaring errors but not for meaning, and post it here. Think of it as stretching exercises for the brain. It might be a rhizome of fiction or a clod of soil, but it might also be the opening gambit in the game that becomes your epic contribution to world literature.


About Ian Whatley

Ian Whatley -- British born, bred, educated, and then deported. His fiction has been published in The Legendary, Lost and Found Times, 3S and so on and so on and...

Posted on May 21, 2010, in Ian W and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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