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Words

Personal: The small, private familiarity of being hit by a freshness of Sweet Pea fragrance again. They were planted late, yet bloomed early.

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Idea: The Toppling of Edward Colston; a sea-shanty set in the fine tradition of political folk songs.

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Idea: Everyone knows the Bechdel-Wallace Test, right? I wonder if, in our current age of the Anthropocene, with the rise of cli-fi and eco-fiction, we could propose a similar ‘Eco Test’…?

eg. Is there any moment, scene, or setting in this book/play/movie/comic where the natural or non-human world exists not just as a plot device, deus ex machina, or as emotional background for the human characters? For example: Why isn’t the environment of the characters (the landscape they might be traveling through) a central character in it’s own right? Is it possible to write a story where the human protagonists exist in equal relation, and with equal prominence, to the non-human?

examples: Overstory by Richard Powers.

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Question: Are literary devices (points-of-view, allegory, pathos and bathos, Chekov’s Gun, flashbacks; flash-forwards; irony; synecdoche; reliability etc blah) tools in the sense that they are made-up conjurer’s tricks? Or do they describe reality?

As writers, artists, we are trying to express, display, explore something that exists, right? Even if it just a feeling, even if it is set on the blood-plains of Mars. It’s the reality of a feeling where all the juicy story nutrition comes from… It is the empathy we can encourage for characters and stories outside our own, r/t, first-person point-of-view.

So… In real life, it is not a host of ‘plot instances’ (I get that job, that lucky/unlucky thing happens to me) that form the bulk of our story. Instead, our daily motivations and actions seem just as comprised by other important, plot-defining things that don’t often get mentioned: half-remembered dreams; fragments of poetry; songs on the radio that wont go away; daydreams (or flash-forwards?); gut-reactions and subconscious instincts; premonitions and anticipations; ruminations and private dreads; things left unsaid; anxieties and sudden moments of satori…

How do we put all of that stuff into the literature of the future?

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In this earlier post, we might have started something; a few words scribbled onto a page; thoughts and feelings and characters falling into place.

Sitting with those first lines, and where you think they might be going, try any or both of these exercises below. Once again write a line or two that follows on. You might find what you write here changes what you wrote in The Story of Us. Or it might not. Sometimes we have to come at things laterally – we have to scout around in the terrain a bit, to get a sense of the place we’re trying to get to.

The Seed.

In the dark of the under-world, in a world of cold and heavy earths, there sat a seed. It had been good and gold and burnished brown when it had been cupped in the fruiting bud of it’s tree. It had felt itself filling up and fattened by the rainwater and food brought to it, up from the roots, down from the skies.

But down here no one could see its colours.

One day, on a day of storms and fierce winds, that seed fell to earth and was swallowed up. Winter fell on the tree and the sky that had held it, and the seed – for a time – disappeared. …

What happens next?

The Stone.

There was once a stone – a boulder, really – solid and strong and laced with the glitter of quartzite like captured stars. It sat patient and stubborn as the winds and rains of centuries washed it, season after season, sun after sun.

Stones think slowly. They are, after all, stone. It took a thousand years for it to notice at all that it had moved, just a little, from it’s place.

What happens next?

xoxo

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