OpenFiction [Blog]

The cat’s meow

Posted in fiction, the OpenFiction Project, writing exercise by scarsonmsm on September 10, 2009
The cat mug

The cat mug

A great piece of writing and an interesting project.  The piece of writing is by my good friend, Thomas McNeely, the best fiction writer by far I know personally.

The project is a great type of writing exercise that could be used in conjunction with the OpenFiction Project course materials.

Here’s how the project works:

THE IDEA

A talented, creative writer invents a story about an object. Invested with new significance by this fiction, the object should — according to our hypothesis — acquire not merely subjective but objective value. How to test our theory? Via eBay!

THE PROJECT

  1. The project’s curators purchase objects — for no more than a few dollars — from thrift stores and garage sales.
  2. A participating writer is paired with an object. He or she then writes a fictional story, in any style or voice, about the object. Voila! An unremarkable, castoff thingamajig has suddenly become a “significant” object!
  3. Each significant object is listed for sale on eBay. The s.o. is pictured, but instead of a factual description the s.o.’s newly written fictional story is used. However, care is taken to avoid the impression that the story is a true one; the intent of the project is not to hoax eBay customers. (Doing so would void our test.) The author’s byline will appear with his or her story.
  4. The winning bidder is mailed the significant object, along with a printout of the object’s fictional story. Net proceeds from the sale are given to the respective author. Authors retain all rights to their stories.
  5. The test’s results — photos, original prices and final sale prices, stories — are cataloged on this website. The project’s curators retain the right to use these materials in other venues and media. For example: Maybe we’ll publish a book.

A great way to generate new stories. I’ll be interested to see how well the story sells on eBay, but so far Tom has done quite well at convincing people to pay money for the same words they already have at home in their dictionary. Please bid to help keep Tom fed adequately.

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