Playing with words

Photo by Patrick Tomasso

For one of the pieces in my forthcoming collection, smells like teen spirit, I devised a minor Oulipian constraint which I believe is unique. That is to say, I searched my reference shelf as well as the web and could not find the exercise. So if anyone out there has heard of it, please contact me (via the link on the “About” page) and I’ll refrain from bragging.

In the meantime… drum roll, please!

—– Regressive Text —–

Take a text (fiction or nonfiction) and use only the first sentence of each paragraph, starting with the last paragraph and working backwards to the first sentence.

 

I used a short story by O. Henry and was richly rewarded with a delightfully ironic ending:

The critics have assailed every source of inspiration save one.

This inspired me to add a variation to the regressive text:

italicize one word in each sentence and append the words “emphasis added” to the title.

 

Thus, using the above example, the last sentence became: 

The critics have assailed every source of inspiration save one.

I won’t reveal the story’s title here, but you’ll find it when the book is released. Let’s hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed tampering with it.

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Not the cola

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