Slipping into strangeness

This post should inspire you to think creatively in relation to the following prompt and is especially targeted at fiction writers.

Write a surrealist poem or flash fiction piece. To do this, you can first write your piece as you would normally do. Then, you can play with it by swapping words or part of the lines/sentences with others ones. This will create interesting juxtapositions and free associations.

Suggestions for Fiction Writers

Here at Spellbinder we love surrealist works within all of our categories. In this Prompts post, I want to draw your attention to the work of Leonora Carrington, who is a less well-known but extremely remarkable surrealist painter and fiction writer. Her works are extremely bizarre and often utilise the common surrealist technique of collage. Putting disparate things together is a great source of innovation and often gives birth to an originality which branches off from the roots of tradition. Carrington’s paintings depict all manner of hybrid forms and mystical characters which are fascinating to look at. Her short stories, such as ‘The Debutante’, and her only novel, The Hearing Trumpet, are packed full of witty remarks and absurd situations. Carrington provides a thought-provoking and highly entertaining reading and viewing experience.

As the prompt suggests, you may begin to think about how you can swap parts of your own work around to create this sense of strangeness and discover new connections and juxtapositions you had not previously thought of. Once you have done this, you might want to experiment with incorporating allusions to other works within your own piece. Try to use these in a refreshing and unexpected way. The brevity of flash fiction means that you can create something extremely peculiar without having to offer any structure to this at all. Whilst a novel demands some logic, even if it is only the logic of the strange world itself, flash is a bit more flexible in that a narrative arc is not so important within its form. Use this flexibility to your advantage and play with the endless possibilities of creating the downright bizarre and surreal.

The surrealist movement was very much engaged with dreams and their significance. You might try to record any details you can remember from your own subconscious adventures as soon as you wake up each morning for a week or so. These snapshots into the dream world might just provide the unusual combination of settings, characters and themes which will enable you to write a distinctly surrealist work.

Below, I have included some potential opening lines:

  • The half moon dipped its tale, as if melting and slipping out of the exhausted sky.
  • Time functioned, as if governed by a Dali clock, and the sun had its own agenda.
  • The blood red sangria dripped over the counter, and she caught his eye with a blade of her own.
  • Once before, they tried to burn the books, but when he made his special sound, they stopped, dropped and forgot.
  • She liked to talk in riddles, but they liked to talk in rhyme, as they stumbled over the blessed savannah, drunk on a bottle of wine.

We would love to read anything you produce on this theme.

Amber Kennedy, Editor-in-Chief

Photo by Patrick Porto from Pexels


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