Learn Something New: Pastiche Genre

So today I learned something new. And frankly, I haven’t been learning as much as I should. I blame winter, ’cause at this point, winter better get the blame for lots of stuff (like being winter).

Anyway, today I met an author via Twitter who writes in the Pastiche Genre … which I had to do a quick search on, since it was one I wasn’t familiar with.

Wikipedia suggests:

A pastiche is a work of visual art, literature, or music that imitates the style or character of the work of one or more other artists.

Then I found this definition over at Television Tropes & Idioms

A pastiche is a work done in the style of another artist. It may reflect a single work by a single artist, or a body of work by one or more artists, or even an entire genre. The difference between a Fan Fic, which reuses characters or settings from another work, and a pastiche, is that the pastiche copies the tone and flavor of its original. A work can, of course, be both a Fan Fic and a pastiche, but pastiche is all about the style. A pastiche may be created as an homage to the original artist, or it may be intended as a gentle parody. The distinction is not important—although an exaggerated parody that did not actually reflect the style of the original would not be a pastiche. A pastiche which doesn’t show some respect for the original would be a very difficult thing to pull off. Most pastiches are created in a spirit of fun, which can often make it hard to determine whether the creator intended parody or homage—or even, possibly, both. (An exception to the just-for-fun rule is in Academia, where a pastiche may be created as a Deconstruction of the original, but such works rarely reach—or are intended for—a broad audience.) A good pastiche can be a hard thing to pull off, and many an excellent artist has crashed and burned in the attempt. Using someone else’s style is simply not an easy thing. Nevertheless, a decent pastiche is enjoyable enough for both artist and audience that there is no shortage of artists willing to give it a try.

It does sound like a lot of fun, doesn’t it? I particularly like the idea that even if it’s a satire, the work still needs to show some amount of respect for the original art. A curious thing, though, to consider writing using someone else’s style. What can you learn from the style through emulation? How do you inject your own personality into the work while staying true to the style?

Also interesting how many new genres and sub-genres and so forth the world of writing is now open to – which is a remarkable and rather amazing thing. We continue to move forward, continue to keep writing, keep learning, keep pushing. A metaphor for how writers’ today are able to make the industry fit themselves? The same way writers continue to be interested in learning as much weird stuff as we can (though it usually doesn’t start out that way … just the needs of the work), so we push our limits in our craft, our imagination, our creativity.

Actually, quite a wondrous thing, don’t you think?

Thanks for reading, and hope you’re having a great week. 🙂

The Journey to Publication, Writing

Playing and Making Writing Fun Again

Well, this will probably feel a bit strange, but first, I’m going to send you away from this blog post, because I just read a great post that inspired this one. So, go check out:

Dale Launer’s “Cure Writers Block”

In case you haven’t checked it out already, he talks about where he thinks creativity – and it’s opposite, writer’s block – come from, equating true creativity with “the child” and our negative inner editor with “the parent.” Seriously, check it out. Poke around on the page a bit, since a lot of the other essays are both very well written, and thought-provoking.

Which brings me to my post today: playing and making writing fun again. I recently started a new WIP that’s way out of my comfort zone, is something bizarre and weird, and which may never actually be seen by other eyes than my own. The reason: I needed to. I’ve been pushing myself very hard to continue with books in two different series, and the pressure of continuing to build on this, on over-analyzing what’s working – and what’s not – in all of these books has been completely freezing up my writing. Things aren’t going well, and I can’t quite decide how to fix it.

And this all brings me back to play. When I was studying French, the reason I really enjoyed it was being able to play with the language again, something I’d lost throughout other education and the degree in English Lit; playing with language really doesn’t seem to be encouraged. So how do I remind myself to play?

I think, honestly, it comes to trying to erase all the expectations.Maybe I’ll list them to try and break them down.

    • Writing in deep 3rd person, switching between the characters.  (But wait a minute, if this is just for me, who says that it sells better? Who says it even works better? Why not switch it up, start playing … sure, I’m all the way onto chapter 2 /3, but there’s nothing saying I can’t try something new for today.)

    • Traditional plotting methods, following hero’s journey model. (Again, who says? Does the climax have to be facing death? Where else could it take me?)

    • Following the lines of a well-known storyline. (Okay, this is something I’ve apparently done to  make my life harder, but if my premise is that the original story is all lies and a coverup, than it hardly constrains me, does it?)

    • There’s no market for an “orphan” manuscript like this. (Yeah, so? Is that the purpose of writing it? No. So just keep writing anyway.)

    • This may be unpublishable for a variety of reasons. (Does the purpose of all writing I do have to have the eventual goal of trying to get published? Writing is still writing, isn’t it? And being unpublished, isn’t this the opportunity and ideal time to indulge oneself in play?)

Pardon my very strange self-analysis, but I think I needed a bit of butt-kicking. Is my eventual goal publication? Certainly. So if I write something that may not be an ideal candidate, does that make it useless? Not at all. I’m reminded of this little card I picked up at a writer’s conference that tells the story of two fictional beginner pottery classes.

Class A was told to make one pot and make it the best pot they could, rewriting, reworking, and continuing on the same project for the month of the class. Class B was told to learn to make as many pots as they could during the duration of the class. So who made the best pot?

Class B, of course, because they kept experimenting and learning with each new pot they created, rather than sticking with only their first attempt. The end message? There’s no such thing as wasted writing or effort, and I’d be better off continuing to play and expand my skill by experimenting in each new WIP or exercise than sticking with attempting to revise my first flawed effort.

I don’t know about you, but off to play in the writer’s word-box right now. What about you? Do you have the courage to just play?

Have a great week, and thanks for reading.