How to Write Experimental Fiction in Five Easy Steps

By Christopher Higgs.

‘It is better to do nothing than to contribute to the invention of formal ways of rendering visible that which Empire already recognizes as existent.’

– Alain Badiou, Fifteen Theses on Contemporary Art 

Step One: never render visible.

‘Clarity,’ Trinh T. Minh-Ha tells us, in her book Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism, ‘is a means of subjection, a quality both of official, taught language and of correct writing, two old mates of power: together they flow, together they flower, vertically, to impose an order.’

Order cannot be other than sickness.

Release limpid syntax. Abandon and forget all the workshop groupthink about plot unity character unity setting unity and theme unity of plot character setting theme character setting or theme or unity. Those elements are enemy combatants.

Instead, fuck the brains out from underneath the sentence diagram. Finger eager brainsockets of imaginary friends. Go on. Moonwolf the shinefringe. It’ll work, just believe me.

Signifiers signify simplistically, sophistically, sophomorically, erratically.

What seems complete is incomplete.

First, end the piece. Then extract the essence by way of making turning structuring punctuated cadavers of all the little memories. Find space in your diary and burn seep in. Do not let yes. Do not let fist the little realities. Bury the little realities.

Remember: literary realism is graveyard material.

Unbefitting graveyard material we writers of experimental fiction dismiss writers of graveyard material and concern ourselves with matters other. This is why works of experimental fiction degrade: the same way religious zealots cannot fathom people worshiping unseemly, worthless, narcissistic, and unfriendly gods, i.e. their beloved audience. They understand not much but how to pander.

Audience idolatry, they suffer. We escape by focusing never on an audience. What audience? The future does not yet exist! Those hounds of the now cry and cry about caring for their audience. While both view neither to possess the famous Keatsian ‘negative capability’ in black and white, so what? They are liars.

They are humans, we suffer.

Writers of graveyard material have answers, are myopic, procrustean, live perpetually in Victorian times, Fourth century BCE, believe the world is a thing they are insane they believe no to experimental fiction they alone know the answer. We writers of know no better.

We are inhuman, they suffer.

The opposite is the opposite.

We of experimental fiction are the real backwards-looking conservatives clinging to tradition, clinging to repetition, clinging to what we freely release, pass on, and allow floating away into the ether of mediocrity and non-importance. Must not allow what comes next to the practitioners of graveyard material what will come next to dissuade us from what comes next to our important endeavour.

We are future; they are past. We are the innovators of.

First, begin the piece. Then, first, the piece, the middle, middle.

Experimental fiction makes middle the edge the periphery the margins over the hills and through the woods and inside grandmother’s house and in the oven and in the recipe and in the molecules making up the ingredients making up the recipe. Graveyard material simply consumes the store-bought disaster brand your grandmother stopped buying but buys when she is lonely because she is sad or if she is lonely or sad. See how repetition works? Do not worry about your grandmother while creating experimental fiction. Grandmothers love experimental fiction. Fungus speaks the easy gleaming pungency. Water wants reasons for agency. We need not offer reasons.


[This is a short extract, the full article is available to read in Issue Four]


Christopher Higgs lives in Los Angeles where he teaches narrative theory and technique at California State University Northridge. He earned his Ph.D. in Post-1900 American Literature & Culture from Florida State, and his M.F.A. in creative writing from Ohio State. Currently, he serves as contributing editor at the popular online cultural magazine Entropy. In addition to his two books, The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney, and ONE (written in collaboration with Vanessa Place and Blake Butler), and his two chapbooks, Becoming Monster, and Colorless Green Ideas Sleep Furiously, his shorter work has appeared in Quarterly WestPost Road, Denver Quarterly, the Paris Review Daily, and elsewhere.

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