Note on “Exercises in style”

A little note on the “Exercises in style” pieces just posted (and in general). Story (6) below is written entirely using sentences of five words or less. The story underneath that, (13), is written entirely using sentences of sixty words or more (one sentence in there is 109 words!).

This is a project I started over a year ago (see the first four stories in the series by clicking on the “exercises in style” link under “flash” in the menu at right), but have only recently resumed. The idea (and title, translated) came from one of my favorite French authors, Raymond Queneau, who wrote Exercises de style – a collection of 99 retellings of the same story, each told a different way. I hadn’t actually read the book until very recently; I’d basically just copied the premise. When I finally read through it last month, I was kind of disappointed. The core of the story is not itself very interesting, and most of his retellings were solely experiments with language form, not content or meaning. Of course the form usually affects the meaning, but when what you’re changing form-wise is incredibly patterned/formulaic (i.e. removing or displacing the last, or first, or middle letter of each word – some of the things he does), the meaning is left pretty unaltered. Or the story becomes almost indecipherable, and therefore unfun to read.

My goal with this project is to explore storytelling from a ton of different angles – experimenting with form, but also with character, point-of-view, details included or excluded (there is some variability of details with these stories), voice, register, premise, etc. I currently have many more written than are posted, but they’re not yet revised. I will post revised versions sporadically over the coming months.

Hope you enjoy!

~ by kingzoko on April 18, 2014.

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