Tuesday 27 February 2018

Writing for Pleasure 6a - Invention - example

I thought it would be a good idea to take an actual example of a piece of literature where you could work the paradigm-syntax method of imitation.

Consider 'The Tempest'.

If we construct a single sentence that is 'The Tempest' we might get: 'A sorcerer-Duke gets revenge on the person who usurped him.'

We might add in some phrases with things like 'by using his powers to bring the usurper and his entourage to his island-home and to marry off his daughter with the usurper's son.'

We can add in the sub-plot with some  clauses like 'while the native inhabitants (who the sorcerer Duke has enslaved) team up with the usurper's servants and stage a revolt that fails.' 

So each noun and verb of this are the paradigms - any one, some or all of which we could change to create new versions of the story. 

So 'island-home' could be, instead, a motel  in the Nevada desert, where an ex-millionaire has holed up, having been cheated of his wealth by a partner. The 'native inhabitants' could be staff members at the motel who he keeps promising to pay but never gets round to it...and so on.

And we can change the syntax - altering e.g. singulars/plurals; sequencing; switching 'subjects and objects' (ie by switching who does what to whom); turn something that IS done into something that is NOT done; cutting some 'phrases and clauses' and/or adding others ie sub-plots; other 'conditions' in which more things take place and the like; changing 'modalities' - these are the auxiliary verbs that can express degree of certainty, degree of need, degree of possibility ie must, would, should, might, want, could. In fiction terms this is expressed by the degree to which people are or are not motivated to do things. 

So, maybe we don't need two 'inhabitants' - maybe our ex-millionaire is a bit of a sleaze-ball and he has emotionally enslaved a woman. He keeps lying about how much money he has and how he is going to take her away somewhere. 

Then, the guy who cheated him turns up at the motel, on the road with his son (perhaps we can junk the idea that he was lured there by magic) and some kind of person who works for him...a driver perhaps? Sleaze ball plots his revenge on cheat. Perhaps sleaze-ball has his son with him too and the revenge involves something he sets up with his son who lures the son of the guy who cheated him into some kind of jeopardy...gambling? (so sleaze-ball can get some money back) or more dangerous, so that he gets trapped in a forest somewhere? 

Meanwhile, the woman that sleaze-ball has enslaved starts up something with driver-guy and they plot against sleaze-ball and/or the usurping-cheat guy.

This all feels like it's going to end badly, so a whole new syntax for the ending. 

It feels like it's going to be a hostage situation/and or murder in which woman plus driver guy are going to relieve usurper guy of some money.

If that's the case then perhaps this whole thing needs to not start at the 'beginning'. 

Perhaps we start the whole story with woman plus driver-guy running the motel and an inquisitive person (cop? journalist? writer? tax investigator) turns up and starts snooping around trying to find out how they came to be running the place. This takes us into a flashback so that we can then tell the story from the point at which the sleaze-ball is bossing the woman around and the cheating guy turns up....

The potential with this 'new' story is that it can reveal something about relative moralities - the big crook(s) who are on the 'right' side of the law (sleaze-ball and cheat are not criminals, they simply try to eliminate each other) while the lower class commit a crime to come by their money. 

Any piece of writing, fiction or non-fiction, poetry or drama can be changed using these principles.