This post should inspire you to think creatively in relation to the following prompt and is especially targeted at nonfiction writers.
Choose a common, trivial or otherwise unremarkable memory and describe it in the most dramatic and absurd way possible, with the aim to grab the reader’s attention.
Suggestions for Nonfiction Writers
Modernist literature developed the interest in the everyday – the quotidian. They loved to capture the mundanities and realities of life so much that they even wrote about excretion! What is most exciting about this prompt is that you have the opportunity to turn something dull into something interesting. Let’s see how that might be done…
The beauty of everyday life lives within its sounds, its smells, its tastes… Take a moment to look around you and observe these sensory phenomena. Something as mundane as the wind blowing in your face can become an extraordinary sensation when you truly observe it.
One activity which might help you with this is meditation. If you close your eyes during this practice, you will be forced to rely on your other senses to experience the world. Relax and enjoy this opportunity to become more in touch with your surroundings. You might find that this helps you to see how the unremarkable can in fact be extraordinary.
This prompt also mentions creating a piece with a bend in the direction of the absurd. This is a mode dependent upon comedy. Look out for the slightly ridiculous parts of everyday life. Can you notice something that we all do which is just accepted in society, but is actually at its core a very odd thing to do? And more importantly, can you laugh at this?
One activity which will help you with this task is forcing yourself to adopt a different perspective. Maybe you can do this literally; for example, you might stand at the top of a tower and look down at all the cars in traffic jams and realize the absurdity of that, or you might spend a long time with an animal so that you can think about how this animal might view the actions of a certain human being. This can be a really fun exercise which I recommend trying to help you find that absurd bent in your prose.
James Joyce – Ulysses
Karl Ove Knausgård – My Struggle
We hope that you find this prompt guide useful.
Amber Kennedy, Editor-in-Chief