So, as this series of “how do I do things” continues, there is one way that I have done stuff in that has been really interesting and fun. It has been called different things over the years by different people and used in different ways as well. So let me just give you some examples.
One of my favorite authors, William Burroughs, used what was called “The Cut Up Method” to write some of his best known books like The Soft Machine, The Ticket That Exploded and Nova Express. What it is or how it works, it to take a finished page of text and either cut words out and place in different arrangements or to “fold in” and fold the page to make words fit together and thus having something completely different.
In songwriting, everyone from David Bowie to Kurt Cobain to Thom York have done things like this too. The band that inspired me the most to do this was Wilco and learning about all the songwriting techniques they used while writing their album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
One interesting thing Wilco did, was they had a typewriter in the back of their tour bus and one member would go and type a line of lyrics. Then whenever the inspiration struck, another member would go back and write a line, then cover up the first line, leaving only his for the next person to come in a write a line.
Between all these great, inventive ways of creating the written word, I tried a few things of my own. In the song Glory to the Rhythm of Death, I took a Rolling Stone magazine and cut out what I thought were intriguing words out of the headlines of articles and also words out of ads. I placed them in my beanie and sat at Cafe Westminster one night drinking coffee and pulling out words. The words that I pulled out I glued to a page in my notebook as lyrics in the order I pulled them out. And yes, Glory to the Rhythm of Death were words I pulled out in that order.
Another thing I did on the song Formaldehyde Hide, was I wrote down all the titles of DVDs I had on my bookcase and wrote that song using only words that I found in those titles. Both of those songs can be found on Triple Threat of Terror if you would like to hear them.
Another way to come up with a story out of nowhere is to take a few different things at random and make them happen. It’s a neat exercise that I used in my Creepology tale, Gonorrhea. You come up with maybe a person, a place, a problem; all at random, then throw them together.
My favorite one of these a friend of mine came up with in college. He took Adolf Hitler and Johnny Depp, fighting over the last washing machine at an all night laundromat. Honestly, I can’t remember the story at all, but that scenario, has been forever burned in my mind.
Just write down a bunch of different things, people, places, problems, and put them in a hat (I like using hats obviously) and pull them out and watch your brain create something crazy!
With Gonorrhea, I entered a contest where you had one week to write a short script and on the first day, you are given a place. Mine was a hospital. That’s where Gonorrhea came from. The script was “too big” to ever make on a “no budget” shoot but I think it came out great as a short story.
Another thing that is fun is using commercials. So, get your character, and then turn on the television. The first commercial you see is the situation your character is in. Write it. Then turn on the television again and flip through till you land on a commercial. Then that’s your next situation your character goes through.
I have done this to a small extent but am planning on writing an entire novel this way. I will keep you updated as how it goes. Please let me know too if this works for you or if any pot the other methods here work or if there are any other weird ways to get your story going.
Keep it creepy!