Creative Writing Prompt for May 4

Saturday, Apr 15, 2017
The 3 a.m. Epiphany

Our Creative Writing Group meets the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month. We are working through the exercises in Brian Kiteley's The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises That Transform Your Fiction. The assignment for May 4th is War - 155.

The four phases of war, according to James Fallows in the January/February 2004 issue of The Atlantic, are "deterrence and engagement," "seize the initiative," "decisive operations," and "post-conflict." Use these four phases of war to map out a short scene between several people that can be seen, if one stretches it, as a kind of war. What do I mean by map out a short scene? In this exercise create an outline rather than a filled-out piece of narrative, a set of quick and dirty instructions for a scene that only occasionally bursts into full-throated song. You should also be funny. War is hell, but it can also be grimly funny, or at least it can be ridiculous and absurd. Make us laugh at this little war. 500 words.

This breakdown of the horror and chaos of large-scale battles into orderly components fascinates me. In play and games, we often simulate war (even the military plays war games). About two decades after the Second World War, American fiction began to apply the idea of black humor to the somber subject of war in books like Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse-Five. Catch-22, for one, was not immediately popular. It took some time for American readers to accept a book that intermingled humor with the horrors of war.

Come with six copies of your completed assignment to share. We'll discuss and provide feedback. First time? Feel free to come and observe before jumping in.