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Writing Exercise for Fact Meets Fiction Val Barbaro

It couid be argued that just about all literary nonfiction pieces are a bit of "fact meets fiction." Most nonfiction writers would admit to making up details that they don't necessarily remember happening, just as a means of augmenting the story by creating a sense of scene. Some will even make up details to give readers accurate empathy over literal accuracy, as discussed in the O'Brien excerpt.

For this exercise, we're going be a bit more overt about our genre blending:

1. Take a scene from a nonfiction piece you have written in the first person.

Choose a scene that is not merely a persona! essay addressing a topic (like much of the Anzaldua piece) but instead involves multiple people.



Julianne Corey

LI 624

Writing Exercise For Fact meets Fiction

Select a topic of interest for a piece of nonfiction writing.

Set the scene in which the writing of said nonfiction would take place.

Allow the "writer" character to explore how much fictionalizing goes into the creation of his/her nonfiction.









ShannonHuffman Professor Henry Postmodern Fiction 10 Feb. 2004

Writing Exercises:

Fact Meets Fiction


Spend your last $ 1.25 on a subway token. Ride the Orange Line. Get off at a stop you wouldn't normally. What do you see? What do you feel? Pretend you're a millionaire, a trombone, a platypus with something to say.

Before you get back on the T, walk on your platypus hands along the third rail. Find the truth of the subway tunnel. Is it alligators? Abandoned semi-automatics? Forgotten suicides? Lick the subway walls until you want to vomit. Go home and write.

If subway-wall licking has left you uninspired, try this: Think of a noun, say farm animals. On five scraps of paper, write five different nouns related to farm animals: Sheep, goats, chickens, pigs and cows. Next, think of five real-life events and write these on five scraps of paper: Abortion, work, voting, death and candle making. Next, think of five emotions: Happiness, fear, pity, loathing and anger. Randomly select an element from each category: Pigs, abortion and loathing. Write a story 3&HH4r that incorporates these three elements.

Next, write a poem about pigs, abortion and loathing. Then a news story, then an essay. Determine what form supports your story and what does not. Or select portions from each piece and stitch them together like a quilt.

Throughout the piece, examine and write about the validity of using writing exercises to produce meaningful fiction.



Writing Exercises for Pynchonesque Framebreaking

1. Reverse traditional narrative processes:

a. Write a story that begins with a climactic moment, then trails off into
character description, exposition, and set-up.

b. Make a list of punning/allusive names that telegraph a character's traits
and purpose in a story. Use them in fun combinations, allowing the names
to dictate the story's shape.

c. Pepper a story with a symbol that means many things, or nothing. Or one
incongruous thing, like a dove that symbolizes violence, or a paper kite
that symbolizes imprisonment.

2. Experiment with point of view:

a. Write from the point of view of a literate, intelligent paranoid.

b. Write from the point of view of a happy drunk escaping from ugly

3. Experiment with dialogue:

a. Write a short scene of dialogue with no statements.

b. Now one with no questions.







Andy Lin: Contemporary Short Fiction: Exercise: Self-Reflexivity, Involution, and Infinity


AH stories are contained within a frame. This frame is traditionally the relationship between the narrator and the reader, usually a straightforward narrative that presents a story directly to the reader. "Once upon a time there was a boy who cried wolf," is such an example. To add another dimension, an author might put another frame inside the first frame: "Once upon a time there was a boy who told a story about a boy who cried wolf." This can go on, of course, infinitely. Imagine a painting (an Escher probably) where you have a painting of a scene that contains the painting itself, and inside the painting, there is a smaller one of the scene, and so forth. These halls of mirrors (mise en abime) often affect the reader by causing a confusion as to how such a scene might get set up in the first place, and by doing so pulls the viewer (or reader, in our case) out of the painting or story, and causes her to be conscious of the structure and creation of the art as much as of the art itself.

These frames (infinite or not) can never truly be broken: even as you extricate from a deeper frame, there will always be another frame encompassing you; eventually you might find yourself back in "reality" (the outermost frame), which itself Cabalists considered God's fiction, or, as Borges suggests, that reality is the fiction of our own lives.

Nevertheless, through this involution of text, seeding frames within frames, we can create a situation where the reader, because she becomes conscious of the multiple frames, becomes conscious of the fictional nature of the outermost frame. To further dilute the multiple frames, we can have a character in our story talk about (and sometimes affect) the very story itself. In Don QMixof6, for example, we have instances where characters in the book have read parts of the book, affecting how they interact with the humble knight. A more contemporary example of this is the unfortunate and unspectacular movie "Adaptation," where a screenwriter as a character inside the movie is able to affect the movie as the screenwriter outside of the movie. Lastly, I am reminded of the Looney Tunes short DMc% AmMcA, where Daffy is constantly prodded by a big pencil and eraser that erases and repaints the scene in Daffy's reality much to his chagrin (It turns out it's Bugs manning the pen and ink).

Try creating a simple frame-within-a-frame story by interjecting a narrative inside another narrative or inside itself. Next, introduce an author character (perhaps named after the author so as to be less subtle), and letting her roam the fiction that she might be creating. Relatedly, create characters that are conscious of the fact that they are in a work of fiction and allowing them the authority to comment on the story as though they were outside of it, perhaps by having them interact with the "author" directly (who may or may not be "in" the story.) Have fun trying to create something infinite.

* The ideas here are referred from John Barth's essay "Thfey W;A;'n Tafe^ tV^M?! Tat/as" and Jorge Luis Borges' essay




Nina Schneider

Exercise for "Revising History"


Pick a well known legend or fairy tale. Retell the tale from the point of view of a minor character. The POVcharacter could even be a non-human or inanimate object Be self- reflexive and have the character comment on the process of writing. Feel free to insert the author as a POV character, and don't worry about anachronisms—they are allowed.






Research a well-known event, such as Watergate or the Battle at Normandy , and
change one crucial decision or happening, so that everything from that point unfolds