Print Story WFC Eye Ex: The Return of the It Narrative
By Christopher Robin was Murdered (Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:35:28 AM EST) (all tags)
Okay, let's cut the crap. Normally these little WFCs are small beer. But this time, boys and girls, the writers on this here site are going to be single-handedly responsible, as a group, as a group of single hands, for the triumphant resurrection of an honest to God lost and dead genre.

I know what you're saying. You're saying, "Holy Francis Mary Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca and her 14 yapping zombie Pomeranians: The prophecy comes to pass! This is what I was born for. Literally. As the product of an extensive breeding program designed to produce a writer who could revive nearly 300 year-old dead literary genre, I was born for this."

We know, sweetie. We know.

The genre is the It Narrative, a minor literary genre that enjoyed a brief vogue the United Kingdom and the United States. I leave it to professional English studying guy and UCLA prof Chris "The Hammer" Looby to explain. From his intro to Robert Montgomery Bird's Sheppard Lee: Written by Himself:

"One can also detect in Sheppard Lee echoes of the curious minor genre of the 'it narrative,' popular in the eighteenth century, with titles like Adventures of a Hackney Coach, Adventures of a Guinea, Adventures of a Black Coat, and Adventures of a Corkscrew, all purporting to be narratives authored by the objects in question, telling about their material origins, manufactured production, commercial travels, and so forth. James Fenimore Cooper diligently revived the genre with his Autobiography of a Pocket-Hankerchief in 1843, in which the hankie in question tells the involved story of his growth as a flax plant, harvesting, weaving, sale, attendance at fashionable balls, resale, and so on."

There it is folks, your new challenge. Writers have been relying on humans as a crutch for too long. It's time other nouns took the stage. But we're going to update the genre a bit.

Here's the specs:

WFC Eye Ex: It Narrative
Word count: 2,500 words or less
Theme: A work narrated by an inanimate, man-made object
Post date: March 31, 2008 – end of day EST
Post site:

Unlike the traditional it narrative, you don't have to follow your item from the factory to the grave. You can if you want, but the choice is yours. Hell, you don't even have to use a real object. Just make sure you've got a man-made inanimate object narrating your work, the rest is up to you.

Before we go, I'd like to thank ad "The Hammer" hoc for the posting site. You're the tops, a cup overflowing with the milk of human kindness, and we all love you. And I need to thank Kell – "The Hammer" – nerin: she actually came up with concept like four or five challenges ago, but for some reason never used it. Mercifully, I'm not too proud to live off the intellectual table scraps of folks smarter than I. Thanks K, you are the sunshine of my life and the wind between my wings. I need to thank my producers Jean-Michel "The Hammer" Rey and Seiichi "The Hammer" Tsukada. Our editor Nelly "The Hammer" Quettier. And the band Tindersticks. We did it guys! We did it!

Now quick, start writing, before your computer runs out of great ideas.

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WFC Eye Ex: The Return of the It Narrative | 25 comments (25 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
I AM JOHN'S CYTOPLASM by gazbo (4.00 / 3) #1 Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 04:26:04 AM EST
Who ever knew that the Reader's Digest were secretly teaching me of long-dead literary genres AT THE SAME TIME as educating me on the true importance of my islets of Langerhans.

I recommend always assuming 7th normal form where items in a text column are not allowed to rhyme.

Stretches the "man-made" bit . . . by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #2 Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 04:34:50 AM EST
But we'll take what we can get. We're not proud.

[ Parent ]
I am John's hip replacement? [nt] by gazbo (4.00 / 2) #3 Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 04:39:03 AM EST

I recommend always assuming 7th normal form where items in a text column are not allowed to rhyme.

[ Parent ]
Solid, Jackson! by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #4 Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 04:47:10 AM EST
Your story's half written.

[ Parent ]
Were this an MFC by Herring (2.00 / 0) #9 Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 11:03:00 AM EST
I would submit Ricky's Hand by Fad Gadget

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
Do it! by ana (2.00 / 0) #11 Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 12:18:41 PM EST
After all, cheating is encouraged. And I'll wager the lyric count comes in under the word limit.

"And this ... is a piece of Synergy." --Kellnerin

[ Parent ]
Hey now! by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #12 Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 12:44:04 PM EST
Cheating isn't encouraged. We're just very "free market" about this sort of thing.

If you are unorthodox in your approach and you get spanked for it by the voting public, then you should understand you've cheated.

If, on the other hand, your unorthodox approach wins you the contest, then you should consider it a sign that you're an innovative maverick.

That isn't the same as encouraging cheating. We're not relativist after all. Just rationalists.

[ Parent ]
Not encouraged?! by dark nowhere (2.00 / 0) #23 Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 01:23:35 PM EST
Boy do I feel ripped off! Not that I get off my arse and write much at all these days.

Observation: whether cheating is encouraged or simply expressly not discouraged makes little difference. People will tend to vote in line with the rules (given that the group is small enough) unless the exception is... well, exceptional. OTOH, a writer won't have much fun in the sense of 'challenge' if no attempt is made to use the rules as inspiration at least.

Chill out, snowflake.

[ Parent ]
Good observation. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #25 Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 04:03:36 PM EST
Though I like to think that, in this case, cheating is expressly discouraged, except when it isn't.

[ Parent ]
Adventures of a Hammer by Kellnerin (4.00 / 6) #5 Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 05:23:56 AM EST
Awesome. I don't remember having this idea, but I've had so many it's hard to keep track, you know?

I have only one objection, and it is that my street name is actually "The Grammar" -- look out for my forthcoming style guide titled Please Grammar, Don't Hurt 'Em.

That is one neat upload site from ad hoc, though. And with more than a month before the deadline, this is my chance to write an entry in Flash!

"Late to the party" is the new "ahead of the curve" -- CRwM

ouch by 2 plus 3 equals 5 (2.00 / 0) #18 Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 07:10:55 PM EST
beer out of the nose hurts.

-- Do the math.
[ Parent ]
It puts the lotion in the basket. by Rogerborg (4.00 / 1) #6 Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 06:52:13 AM EST
Is 2nd person OK with the Cabal?

Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.
Hunh. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #7 Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 07:13:07 AM EST
Good question.

I say that censorious cabals are an abomination to our shared democratic spirit.

Submit what you will and we'll let the people decide with their votes.

[ Parent ]
I know where he's going by 2 plus 3 equals 5 (2.00 / 0) #19 Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 07:11:29 PM EST
Don't encourage him.

-- Do the math.
[ Parent ]
It's the Rozzer. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #20 Tue Feb 19, 2008 at 04:01:41 AM EST
What could I say to stop him?

[ Parent ]
Question: by MartiniPhilosopher (2.00 / 0) #8 Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 09:01:40 AM EST
Define inanimate for these purposes.

Would it include a computer or a network? Computers have moving parts, fans mostly. Does the electricity count since one could argue that it does provide for a form of locomotion and thus animation. The same applies to a network. What about data? Can email be said to have animation for purposes of this assignment? Does it count as being man-made?

Whenever I hear one of those aforementioned douche bags pontificate about how dangerous [...] videogames are I get a little stabby. --Wil Wheaton.

Again . . . by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #10 Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 11:05:59 AM EST
Let the invisible hand of the market decide.

Submit what you will and the readers will let you know with their votes whether or not you cheated.

Personally, I was thinking more like sentient. HAL from 2001 is "animate" but the Abe Lincoln figure in Disney's Hall of Presidents is not.

A non-AI computer would be fine, but, honestly, I think you won't get any votes on originality.

Electricity is fine, I guess, but it doesn't seem man-made to me. More like man-induced and regulated. Still, I'd say that if you had a story that you thought was really great and you need you object to be electricity, just do it and let the people vote.

[ Parent ]
didn't see that coming by fleece (2.00 / 0) #13 Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 01:38:33 PM EST
this could be awesome or disastrous for me.

There's a cheat. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #14 Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:25:45 PM EST
It has to be narrated by the object, it doesn't really have to be about the narrator. You could write pretty much anything and then say the security camera saw it all.

But that's a clever dodge so don't tell anybody else that I suggested it. Well keep it our little secre . . . aw, dammit!

Pretend I said nothing.

[ Parent ]
ha i know, i've already got a cool idea by fleece (2.00 / 0) #15 Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:34:49 PM EST
it's just a question of whether i can execute it in a way that appeals

[ Parent ]
yay by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #16 Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:45:37 PM EST
Return of the fleece narrative.

"Late to the party" is the new "ahead of the curve" -- CRwM
[ Parent ]
I'll rig the win . . . by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #17 Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:24:34 PM EST
If you promise to write a story about fleece.

[ Parent ]
Hmmm by Pasofol (2.00 / 0) #21 Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 04:10:05 AM EST
It boils down to a tough question.
Condom or dildo?

I suppose that depends by ad hoc (4.00 / 1) #22 Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 04:17:51 AM EST
on whether you want a happy ending or whether you just want to be tossed away like so much used tissue.
The three things that make a diamond also make a waffle.
[ Parent ]
Hey by dark nowhere (2.00 / 0) #24 Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 01:26:46 PM EST
at least condom's get to keep a souvenir.

Regardless, both are better than buttplug.

Chill out, snowflake.

[ Parent ]
WFC Eye Ex: The Return of the It Narrative | 25 comments (25 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback