Styling the Fight

Another series, in which I plan to rewrite the Young Siward fight from Macbeth in a variety of styles, experimenting with person and tense (first person present, third person past), restriction (no adjectives, no letter e), emulation (in the style of Poe or Twain) and format (as a series of tweets or a Kickstarter campaign). The goal is not to conduct an exhaustive search of the style “space” or arrive at some kind of optimum but to have fun and see what develops.

This is inspired by 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style. Author and illustrator Matt Madden starts with a single-page comic and presents 99 variations, playing with comic structure, narrative structure, perspective, genre and more. It’s fascinating and inventive. I highly recommend it. [1]

I’ve been planning to launch this series for some time. In fact, a couple of the earlier exercises date back to my now scrapped first blog. I’ll collect entries here in chronological order as I write them, starting with two from my Writing the Fight series.

As a quick refresher, here’s the scene in question. I’ve trimmed a few lines from the beginning and end. You can read the full thing here: Macbeth, Act V, Scene 7.

What is thy name?

Thou’lt be afraid to hear it.

No, thou though call’st thyself a hotter name than any is in hell.

My name’s Macbeth.

The devil himself could not pronounce a title more hateful to mine ear.

No, nor more fearful.

Thou liest, abhorred tyrant. With my sword, I’ll prove the lie thou speakest.

They fight and Young Siward is slain.

Thou wast born of woman.

Styling the Fight entries

1. Young Siward’s POV

2. Macbeth’s POV

3. Edgar Allan Poe


[1] Itself inspired by Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style, a literary twist on the same premise that dates back to 1947. You’d think, as a writer, that Queneau’s book would be my inspiration, but I’d never encountered it before. Confession: I still haven’t read it. That said, I will be mining it for style suggestions.

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