It seems one of the most neglected considerations in writing is form. Everything else screams for more attention: chosen topic(s), subtheme(s), genre, characters, plot, voice, style.

As for form itself, the decision usually goes along the lines of choosing whether to be a short story, a poem, a play or a novel. From there on, you’re supposedly not to think much about it, except how to structure the plot and cliff-hangers in the whole story.

Often it’s not given any thought, because one is used to exclusively writing in a certain form.

structure, narrative, invention

Photo by Ars Electronica

On top of that, publishers also push for certain formats, for example 50,000 words to the point, or not more than 100,000 words. So what if your story only works in two volumes or as a novella of 30,000 words? Well, you need to fight for it. This year’s Man Booker Prize went to a novel of 832 pages.

Be Inventive

You can be truly inventive with form. Rather than following familiar schemes, you can experiment and find your own specific way. In this age of radical change, form can also be a widely explored phenomenon.

Perhaps you can write in fragments instead of whole chapters, or switch between characters; introduce something new and only yours.

I’ve read a novel composed of blog posts, including people’s comments, thus weaving an interesting story bit by bit. Another writer has included all the editing changes he’s done at the beginning of the book.

Maybe you want to play with untraditional presentation and rather than going with a beginning, middle and an end, you mix or exclude one of them. You can invite readers to participate in the story or make three or four alternative endings to the story.

Be bold. Why not write one-paragraph chapters or alternate among points of view? Why not sum up one of your chapters’ events in a poem? It can work as a puzzle or a metaphor. Anything is acceptable. Anything is right.

These are just a very few from the top of my head. Of course, there are countless ways for you to play with. Just let go of any preconceptions.

Stand Your Ground

When something new is invented or comes on the market, people are hesitant and resistant. If you’ve been bold and followed your instincts, make sure to stand your ground once you’re done and face critique and opposition. You’re the sole inventor of your art and you know best how and why it works.

How have you experimented with form? What forms have you explored so far?

PRACTICE

Use part of your WIP and try to rewrite it in a different form. When you’re done, post both versions in the comments. It will be a good example of how things can be done differently and witness the countless possibilities.

As usual, support others’ by offering your feedback.

Sophie Novak
Sophie Novak
Sophie Novak is an ultimate daydreamer and curious soul, who can be found either translating or reading at any time of day.
She originally comes from the sunny heart of the Balkans, Macedonia, and currently lives in the UK. You can follow her blog and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.