Surrealism and behavior

Surrealism and behavior

A Lesson by Jordan Jones

Turn observations about behavior into surreal stories with this step-by-step tactic


Perhaps the easiest genre to give advice about is Surrealism. After all, anything goes. The end result, after reading a lesson like this, is only judged by how truly the piece reflects whats inside the author's mind. But what if it feels like there isn't anything?


There probably is. If you can function in the world, you have an active mind. So how do you turn basic behavior and reflexive thought into surrealist prose? It takes insight into the way the mind works, and you need what I can only describe as a self-aware sense of humor to do it.


Creating surreal prose can be as easy as analyzing how you observe.


First, look to your right. What do you see? I see a door.


Next, think about the actions you can perform with that object. I can open it. I can tape something to it. I can look out its window.


Finally, ask yourself why you thought of those actions. More often than not, it's going to be "because that's what I always do," or "that's what I've done before." This is because we're programmed to behave a certain way based on our surroundings. It's good to know this when writing in the surrealism genre. Take this example:


A noise. Pop. Fizz. The top of the cylinder had, by some unseen force, snapped open. Thrilled, he reached for the blue object and marveled at its temperature. Ice cold. He tried to peer his eye into the hole at the top but was splashed with a light blue liquid. Cursing himself, he straightened the cylinder perpendicularly and looked down into the shiny thing. More sloshing liquid could be seen.


This is a fantasy character interacting with an energy drink, which opens itself for the character. Of course the character has never seen the object before. So what does he do? He accidentally spills some on himself. Two anachronistic objects are juxtaposed, and the surreal prose flows out of the behavior from the first anachronistic object, the character, who interacts with the second object, the can of Red Bull. This is surrealism. The unconscious behavior of humans can be translated into surrealistic prose.


An exercise could be to place yourself in the shoes of a firefighter. By the end of the piece, you're making tea inside a burning building. That's the unconscious mind, the one that wants to make tea, being projected into your writing, and that could make for a successful surrealist story if delivered correctly.  

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Added on April 7, 2013
Last Updated on April 7, 2013

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Jordan Jones
Jordan Jones

I've been writing since second grade. Always preferring length to brevity through middle school and high school--which does go against writing rules--I actually managed to develop pretty strong imagin..