1. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Surreal Touch

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Marcelo, Aug 2, 2009.

    How can I add a surreal touch, give my story a dream or fairy-tale feel? I've felt this a lot when seeing Tim Burton's movies, and when I played the video game Folklore. I like this a lot, so that's why I'm asking. If anyone knows, please give me some tips. :)
     
  2. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor Contributing Member

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    The best way to go about this is with adjectives and descriptive words, and simply the way you construct your words and sentences to begin with. Leave things for the reader to think about, leave things to their imaginations, but also make sure to describe what needs to be described in vivid detail. It's really kind of hard to *tell* someone how to write in a dreamlike and surreal manner; it's just something you need to figure your own way about, just like any other kind of atmosphere. We all picture things differently in our heads.
     
  3. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just be yourself; you are already different from everyone else on the planet. You'll find people begin labeling your stuff as "surreal" when you stop pretending otherwise. Far as getting a "fairy-tale" kinda feel, maybe immersing yourself in the work of Hans Christian Anderson?
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Surrealism consists largely of the juxtaposition of ordinary objects and features with incongruous surroundings, often with distortions. Thus, you may have a pocket watch melting over a tree limk, or a haf-open door in a cloud.

    In a written form, the incongruities need to be subtle, so they don't dominate the story, but serve only to set the atmosphere. A cat wearing a top hat and a waistcoat is over the top, but a cat with no eyes, glimpsed for only a moment, might work well.
     
  5. Edward
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    Edward Active Member

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    Fairy Tale of Faerie Tale? There's a big difference.

    Fairy tales are full of light and shadow, and clever people overcoming challenges.

    Faerie tales are full of shadow and deeper shadow, with even the beautiful being frightening. Every moment is tense, and eerie. The things under your bed are real, and they're much more friendly than the things in the closet. Rose stems are covered in thorns and rusted wire, silk cuts like a razor. The darkness covers everything and keeps the sun from shining, and the only challenge overcome is survival and escape, both of which come at a heavy cost, if they come to you at all.

    In a Fairy Tale little girls with butterfly wings prance about, and all the little things that children love are there to play with.
    In a Faerie Tale, little girls covered in blood smile just-too-broadly, with teeth that are just-too-white, and eyes that are just-too-dark. The little things that children love are just as bad as the little things that children fear, all covered in blood and rust and shadow and old and broken and twisted and made terrifying.

    So basically it depends on what you mean by surreal. You mentioned Tim Burton though, so I'm assuming a compromise between the frightening and the comforting.
     
  6. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Maybe occasionally using stream of consciousness will work well.
     
  7. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Be aware that true surrealism, as well as focusing on "the juxtaposition of ordinary objects and features with incongruous surroundings" (as Cogito says), also focuses on finding the real within a seemingly unreal concept or environment. Surrealism ought not to be defined or condensed to "weird stuff", it should be defined, in my opinion, as a heightened reality, as its etymology suggests: a sur-reality, a reality more real than the one we are currently in.

    With this in mind, the Surrealists often highlighted shortcomings in perception, language and knowledge by proposing seemingly weird scenarios, but ones that contain great truth. At this point, I must stress, this is only one aspect of the movement. As such, well-known visual surrealism, such as Magritte's easily attainable "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" appears peculiar, clearly the image is a pipe, but the intention shows depth of meaning, the image is nothing more than an image of a pipe. For that matter, how do we know that tangible pipes are pipes (answer: we don't - we can only rely on arbitrary tags to denote such concepts)? But this now broaches existenstialism not surrealism, though there can be cross over.

    In order to include surrealist imagery in your written piece, you could attempt stream-of-consciousness type writing but be aware that these states are difficult to achieve and highly debatable as to their productivity. Don't be fooled that many, if any, could, or have ever truly mastered this technique - it is quite likely that large scale editing took place after such sessions. And finally, do not try to induce these states with narcotics (including alcohol) primarily for health reasons of course, but also because the Surrealists themselves mostly concede to entering these states sober as unsurprisingly found them unproductive when intoxicated. There love of the fabled absinthe and ravishing opiates was usually contrained to social gatherings, and not everyone partook.

    Happy experimenting (with language).
     
  8. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's surreal writing for you, right there. :)
     
  9. UnknownBearing
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    UnknownBearing Contributing Member

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    i would suggest, next time you wake up from a particularly vivid dream, write it down. write down as much as you can remember, what happened, where you were, who was there, every little detail as much as you can recall. then think about how these elements are different from your real life.

    you might even want to keep a dream journal, just so you might be able to see your progress in memory and description. this will, in all liklihood i'd imagine, grant you a surreal touch, at least something to get you started.
     
  10. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    Often, simple personification of things and/or outlandish descriptions will yield a fantastic mental image;

    I don't remember ver batem, but the description of Treebeard (Fangorn) from LOTR was quite odd at first. "He was a great tall man at fourteen feet, but his long root-like toes curled about the rocks as he walked"

    Needless to say, I had a hard time visualizing him at first, and then I saw the movie. I had imagined him less treelike but what the hey.
     
  11. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    Use dream logic.
     

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