A Manifesto for The Weird?

Jeff VanderMeer • November 21st, 2011 @ 5:00 pm • Culture

weirdfiction01

There’s a lot of nonfiction and fiction today at Weirdfictionreview.com, most of it focused on Michel Bernanos and Jean Ray.

But there’s also Scott Nicolay’s Dogme 2011 for the Weird. It’s basically one writer’s credo about what he thinks will keep his weird fiction more original and unique.

You might or might not agree with it, but I think it’s useful to think about. It’s a list that most if not all of my own fiction adheres. In thinking about what weird fiction is, and how engages with the reader, it’s absolutely right to put forward, for example, the idea of not using werewolves, vampires, or zombies. Nothing can ever stop being innovative or fresh in a good writer’s hands, but the field is so overcrowded with these archetypal monsters that the effects created in fiction using them are not really part of the weird. They belong to horror or other types of fiction. There cannot be the frisson of discovery or of encountering the unknown crucial to the weird, due to the baggage these monsters bring with them. They have been overly contextualized.

Anyway, love it or hate it, I suggest you go check out Nicolay’s points.

One Response to “A Manifesto for The Weird?”

  1. ben jones says:

    Generally these seem like good rules of thumb. And #4 more than all the others. As a concept being explored by Lovecraft, Cthulhu et al were unnerving. As a set of buzzwords the way pretty much everyone else uses them, very much not so.

    Still, I wonder if Dogme 95 is a workable model for writers. The signatories claimed, albeit with some tongue in cheek, that they were no longer artists but documentarians. But a writer can’t just be a documentarian. This refers not just to weird fiction writing, or even just fiction writing. If you’re using your words, it becomes your art.

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