- Shift the story to third person – free indirect style
- Present tense
- No two paragraphs in the whole story can start with the same word
- Talking dog
‘Stewed Fruit’ is a very good story. I wouldn’t have chosen it for this challenge otherwise. However, it’s also quite safe in its mode, tone and structure. This first round of obstructions are designed to be both technical and creative challenges.
- The first challenge is about experimenting with point of view and shifting away from the story’s current first person point of view. Nineteenth-century authors as diverse as Austen and Flaubert were masters of this style – it’s a sort of cinematic mode zooming in and out of different characters’ perspectives. What makes it even more powerful than film though is our immediate access to several different characters’ thoughts in the one story. This can mean a nuanced and subtle telling – but can also slip into heavy-handedness and a surfeit of exposition so these are things to look out for.
- Although past tense has its benefits, there’s often a greater sense of immediacy and energy in the present tense and so switching this element can have a significant impact on the mood of the story.
- The last of the technical requirements, many of the sentences in this story start with ‘I’ or ‘we’, by stipulating that no two paragraphs can start with the same word, this should encourage a shift in sentence structure.
- Slater tends to write about the real world and it will be interesting to see what the imposition of an element of magical realism does to her work.
I woke at 8am to the electro-wind chimes of my alarm and the smell of something sweet. Or, I thought, snoozing my phone and turning over in our linen sheets, something rotten. It was hard to be certain. It got me out of bed.
Since our intrepid writer has so easily risen to the challenge of the previous obstructions, I decided to try kicking it up. There are only two obstructions for this round but they're intentionally challenging.
The obstructee forced to get political. Read her response to the last writing challenge.
For Rebecca’s second obstruction there is only one rule. She has to rewrite the story as a work of propaganda.
Read Rebecca Slater's first Obstruction challenge, as Stewed Fruit moves into the third person.
A short video from the obstructor.
Welcome to the first video on Seizure TV. Meet Rebecca Slater who is part of our Five Obstructions project. Hear her answer questions on the project – her expectations and misgivings.
Join Rebecca Slater and Alice Grundy as they embark on a Lars von Trier-esque adventure of writing challenges.
Read the Monash Undergraduate Creative Writing Prize-winning story, ‘Stewed Fruit’ by Rebecca Slater. This story is the basis for Obstructions II.