1. Major Trouble
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    Major Trouble New Member

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    Non-Traditional Writing Structures

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Major Trouble, Aug 13, 2012.

    I recently decided I wanted to write a story using only non-traditional writing structures. It's going to be a fan fiction, but if I get comfortable with the various styles then I may do an original story.

    So a "traditional" writing structure is what you see all the time, although this one doesn't have any conversation:
    A non-traditional structure would be a story written in the form of letters, a police report, anything that's just different. Here's what I've done/seen done:

    Only quotes, no tags or descriptions
    Letters
    Diary
    Instant Messaging
    Poems
    Police Report
    Colors
    Feelings

    Here's what I mean by colors, and feelings could be done similarly:
    I was wondering if anyone had ideas for me or for others interested in writing something like this. I'd like to not have to repeat any structure if I don't have to. They're a lot of fun, too.

    Major Trouble
     
  2. Warp Zone
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    Warp Zone Contributing Member

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    Interesting... one of the short story ideas floating in my head is a series of fictional excerpts from newspapers, although I'm still wondering what I'm going to do about the last scene in the story since said newspaper company (and everything else) will most likely be annihilated at that point.
     
  3. Major Trouble
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    Major Trouble New Member

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    That sounds really cool. I'm not sure how you'd go about that last part. If you could pull it off then it might be cool to have the story just kind of end and there isn't another article because everything is, well, gone. Have the journalist clearly freaking out a little more near the end and get as close as possible to whatever happens and... nothing else. I don't know, just an idea.

    Major Trouble
     
  4. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Newspaper writing is a completely different animal then anything you've ever seen. It was a hard class for me to get right when I had to take it as part of my Sports Management degree. There can be no opinion, emotion, anything in it. The writing's dry.

    A car hit a telephone pole at the corner of Broad and 21st street. Two occupants were in the car, a male driver and a female passenger. Both were transported by Medivac to UVA Medical Center, with life threatening injuries. Their condition was listed as Critical. Police report speed was a factor and alcohol might have been involved. There were no further details.

    that would be how you write news articles, and even then it'd probably not get a great grade from my professor because I'm rusty on it. It's been eleven years since I took the class. Plagiarism will definitely ruin your career in the print media if you do so. That was the biggest no-no I took from that class, because Mr. South pushed it so hard.
     
  5. Bell City Fires
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    Bell City Fires Member

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    It's hard to say without knowing what story you are trying to tell. Pick pieces of writing that would relate to the events taking place in you story.
     
  6. Major Trouble
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    Major Trouble New Member

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    Well in this case it's a police officer undercover in a gang. He's just been moved to the gang's HQ and the force has lost contact with him, so they think his cover is compromised. The first chapter is a police report; the second quote in my first post is a piece of the second chapter.

    MT
     
  7. Warp Zone
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    Warp Zone Contributing Member

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    Not sure who you're referring to, but I'll assume me since I asked about the last scene (although if I'm wrong you're free to ignore this post).

    The newspaper "excerpts" would be completely fictional, as would the newspaper itself. However, after reading captain kate's comment, I'll probably go about reading a lot of the news for a short while (I rarely read newspapers) to get enough of a feel of the style for it to be believable (I don't expect to be able to write like a pro, or even amateur reporter of course).

    The story will take place in 2061, before the next predicted sighting of Halley's Comet. Basically, it's predicted it'll crash into the world and kill everyone, leading to a series of events where all the major religions are playing the blame-game, which eventually escalates into a world war that ends up with everyone dead. The last scene is supposed to inform the reader the comet ends up passing by as normal.
     
  8. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    Maybe, instead of newspaper articles, it could be journal entries from an astrologer or something.

    And to Major Trouble: I think that would be very interesting to read. It's worth a shot, right? Don't knock it 'til you try it.
     
  9. Major Trouble
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    Major Trouble New Member

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    That's true, I suppose it could've been directed at either of us. That story sounds really interesting... and amusing, since nothing happens with the comet.

    MT
     
  10. Bell City Fires
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    Bell City Fires Member

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    It was in reference to Major Trouble - thread starter. However, I suppose I'll toss out some generalities, hoping to help.

    The government collects many more reports than police reports. I've written enough Audit Reports that detail business operations to know there are some information in those to be used and made interesting. There would also be classified documents related to any event large enough to be labelled a threat, that would be released afterward, complete with redacted bars of text that could be used as foreshadowing at the start of a story or at the end, firming up some details while leaving others open for the reader to interpret.

    Again, it'd be best to read non-traditional bits that'd most apply to the events of the story, whatever story is being written.
     
  11. Bell City Fires
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    Bell City Fires Member

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    Double post error. Please remove.
     
  12. Warp Zone
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    Warp Zone Contributing Member

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    This is what I considered in the beginning, but I thought newspaper excerpts could better show the events, if that makes any sense.

    However, it sounds like a great idea for the final entry. I also considered a journal entry from an astronaut in a space station who receives consistent news updates to become worried when they stop, and before heading down notices Halley's Comet completely missed, although that feels a bit too anticlimatic.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    major trouble... in your case, you can tell the story through the police officer's notes and official reports...
     
  14. Major Trouble
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    Major Trouble New Member

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    I could, and I might end up resorting to that, at least for chunks of it. The first chapter is a police report stating that they've lost contact with him. But I'd like to try a bunch of different ways if I can.

    MT
     
  15. marktx
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    marktx Contributing Member

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    If you are planning to do this as fan fiction without intending to publish, I say "Go for it." I've done the same thing myself (again, not for the purpose of publishing). Writing a short story as a completely unattributed conversation, experimenting with different forms. By all means, do it. It will sharpen your style, show you the strengths and limitations of various forms, and it will be a great exercise for putting more tools in your writer's tool chest.

    Would I do an entire novel this way? No, I probably wouldn't. But the experience of using these different forms has come in handy as I write in my more "traditional" mode.
     
  16. Major Trouble
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    Major Trouble New Member

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    Yeah, an entire novel would be a pain. But I did do a short story for my fiction writing class that was a series of letters and a diary entry about an injury sustained in a war zone, so you could see how the character (which was, in this case, me) explained the injuries to her mother, boyfriend, and what really happened. It was interesting just to write and was actually fairly easy, because in that case it was just me. Writing it as someone else, a new character, would've been much different, and I'm starting to see that now, in this fan fiction. I'd still love to do other short stories in these styles, though. They're challenging, and I like that.

    MT
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's called epistolary writing. It increases the emotional distance between the reader and the events. Personally, I rarely find this to be a good choice.
     
  18. Major Trouble
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    Major Trouble New Member

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    That's true, and why it's not used often. But it's fun to experiment with and sometimes it is a good choice. Depends on what you're trying to do.

    MT
     
  19. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I've seen this done before in an old book called Up the Downstaircase. The entire novel is made up of notes, regulation forms,
    broken conversations - all taking place in a school. Unfortunately, I saw the movie prior to reading the book so I had a better
    grasp on what was going on. It was interesting, but not an entire success. Like Cogito said the emotional impact isn't as
    good. For instance, there's a scene in Up the Downstaircase in which a girl, who has a crush on her teacher, stands
    before him, as he indifferently corrects the love note she sent him. The movie scene is powerful. In the book all we get
    is the corrected love note and we have to imagine the girl's devastation.

    Might work on a smaller scale, though.
     

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