It was a good session because many of our members – including me – didn’t have much of an idea of what metafiction was. I can’t say that we’re all masters at the topic now, but we’ve made a start. For me, speaking in general terms, metafiction is a device used by fiction writers to deliberately break the fictive dream.
There are many ways of doing this. Some of the common techniques used to bring about this effect are listed here (from the Wikipedia article):
- A story about a writer who creates a story
- A story that features itself (as a narrative or as a physical object) as its own prop
- A story containing another work of fiction within itself
- A story addressing the specific conventions of story, such as title, character conventions, paragraphing or plots
- A novel where the narrator intentionally exposes him or herself as the author of the story
- A book in which the book itself seeks interaction with the reader
- A story in which the readers of the story itself force the author to change the story
- Narrative footnotes which continue the story while commenting on it
- A story in which the characters are aware that they are in a story
The purpose of this exercise is to write a piece in which the author and the reader are both characters in the story. The easiest way I could think of for doing this was to use the second-person narrative.
You must have heard many theories before on how to begin a short story. Did your writing teacher not tell you that the first word of your manuscript should be your main character’s name? But I haven’t yet given you the hero of this one, have I? Hell, I haven’t given this thing a title. I’m just going to keep writing and see what comes up, okay?
And no, you cannot leave. Our wrists are handcuffed together. Wherever you go, I come.
Wait, these are not handcuffs. These are chains. Heavy, cold and grimy. They smell of wet frogs and fungus. I remember going to bed last night in my warm bed. I had my wife’s arm around me. What about you, stranger? Do you remember anything of last night? Or the night before? Or any night of your life?
There are grey holes in your eyes. You cannot remember. Lean your wrist down on the floor, like so. Don’t resist. You’re not strong enough to break these chains. Neither am I. Move away if you want, but don’t let the shackles stretch too much. They may break my feeble arms.
Our story is going to begin here, stranger, in this black, damp room. And it’s going to end here. There’s no way out. No matter what you do, you will not be able to escape. Because I’m the writer, you see. Even if you somehow snap these chains and run for the tunnel of light over there – what? You don’t see a tunnel of light? Here, let me click my fingers. There. You see it now? Yes, that is a tunnel to light, to freedom, to the outside. You wanna go there?
Of course you do. But I’m not gonna let you. Even if you snap these chains and run for the tunnel of light, I will shut it close, with just a whisper. If you lunge at me I can break your legs with a thought. I can amputate your arms at the shoulder. I can pull your eyes out.
Don’t believe me? I erased all your memories, didn’t I?
So your only choice is to sit with me, dear sir. Look me in the eye. Talk to me. Let’s get to know each other. We can be friends. Indeed, that is probably your best bet. Make friends with me. Even if you hate my guts, even if you think I’m the ugliest shithole you’ve seen, even if I look like a wretch to you, even my voice makes your skin crawl, make friends with me. That’s the only way you will live.
You and I. A sweet little dark room that rots like a corpse. The best part? We have so much time with each other.
How do you want to spend it?
Here the intention was to use minimalism as a prop to tell a story. We studied a few six-word short stories and attempted to write down a few of them. I did give it a shot, but I just couldn’t come up with anything at all. So I’m going to list three or four of the examples that Srividya gave us that stuck in my head.
1. With bloody hands I said goodbye
2. Tick tock tick tock tick tick
3. Dorothy: Fuck it, I’m staying here.
Image Courtesy: Markmanson.net
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