What is experimental fiction? And how can you incorporate lessons from the genre into your own writing?

experimental writing

Photo by JD Hancock

Choosing among the multiple attempts to define it and trying to keep it short and simple, let’s just say that experimental fiction is about breaking the rules, skipping conventions, literary innovation, and uniqueness.

Experiments in Innovation and Freedom

Innovation comes only by trying out new things – experimenting – since progress in any field is a result of reaching out to what was once considered impossible. In this sense, experimental fiction is truly revolutionary.

If you’re interested in giving experimental fiction a go, all you need to prepare yourself is to be open for the strange, controversial, and even the implausible.

There certainly are no rules, but as in any professional work, you need to master the current rules before you break them.

Writing experimental fiction is, above all, a question of freedom – freedom to play with characters, with story, with form, with words, with addressing the reader, with perspective, with description, with time sequence etc.

You’re free to interrupt your story in midsentence and continue with visual elaboration, or have a completely unsympathetic character, or repeat the same sentences throughout your story.

Why Experimental Fiction?

We’re programmed to question everything, and literature is no exception. Why have only few set concepts of telling a story when there are limitless ways.

For those whose creativity feels hard-pressed by convention, experimental fiction is definitely the key to unique expression. Perhaps heavy to understand and not suitable for relaxed reading, experimental writers can be said to be lots of things, but never boring.

There are reasons why a writer has decided to make a break from the established, and it requires an intelligent reader to understand the writer’s motivation.

Experimental writers make you question determined perspectives and constructs, and the most successful writers even manage to make a real change in the world. What was once taboo is today’s commonplace; yesterday’s banned literature is now considered original and groundbreaking.

Want to write a story in one sentence? Why not. Have a story in your head with no character? Go ahead.

New ideas are what matters, and by experimenting, you’ll inevitably improve your thinking pattern and learn more about writing even though you originally thought you’re just having fun and playing random.

Have you ever written experimental fiction?

PRACTICE

For fifteen minutes write experimentally. You can have a story without a plot, wordplay, breaking the form, or whatever idea you can come up with. The key is to make it originally yours and follow no conventions.

When you’re done, post it in the comments. As usual, be nice and support others’ practices.

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.