July 16th, 2012 / 8:01 am
Craft Notes

Another way to generate text #6: “word splitting”

“Split the stick and there is Jesus.” —John Cage

This is a simple technique and I will demonstrate it with this very sentence. First you take some language and split its words up. Then you write through it:

Th is i s a sim ple techn ique an d I w ill demon stra tei twi th thi s ver y sen tence

One of my favorite websites is OneLook, a dictionary search engine with wildcard functionality. Using it, I “completed” the split-up fragments:

Th‘ Corn Gangg is in a sabbatical year, avoiding simolean pleasures in technophobic Martinique. Notwithstanding, Jamie Thompson and Nicholas Thorburn wish continually for a Maxwell’s demon-haunted Stradivarius; Towa Tei has twice now declared “math-folk rap” “the next big thing,” heard incessantly in every lonely senior citizen’s tencent store.

I can’t claim to have “invented” this technique; I’m sure many others done exactly this, or similar. (Feel free to name names in the comments.) At heart it’s akin to writing acrostics and mesostics.

Also, obviously, the larger the letter chunks are, and the fewer “extra” words you allow yourself (words not containing any chunks), the harder your task becomes:

Thi sis asim ple tech nique andI wil lde mons trat eit wit hth isv erys ente nce


Thigh-slapper, sis!” Asimina dimpled, biotechnically unique bandit. Wilde-eyed bewilderment, monstrous, infiltrated. Deities with diphtheria disvalued the family Erysiphaceae. Genteel arrogance!

Tomorrow at my my personal blog, I’ll put up some examples of how I used the technique when writing my first novel, Giant Slugs. Until then—

Enjoy! (I enjoin you yo-yos!)

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  1. Merzmensch

      awesome brain-massage before a writing excess

  2. Melissa Broder

      i always dig these prompts

  3. kjtuyy

      a.d. is like a god to me.

  4. A D Jameson

      Dial away! Misdials strengthen cheesepairings. Aroma interrupts!

  5. A D Jameson

      Adidas slimes Ikea, Gödol’s tome.

  6. A D Jameson

      Fawningly nettlesome zebras in most classes presage befoulings. Oreos awrong? Dispiriting! Regex success.

  7. Merzmensch

      Favorite of own blending glory, Lord Bayonett Le Awesome was already as plazebo abrasive against inmost classicism in aesthetic discourse about prestage before ruling the world. Sore spot of his awry long fate was disastrousely inspiring, but cheating with him! Irregularity of exsolution was his access to his fate. 

      P.S. I ask myself, if Infinite Jest was written this way

  8. A D Jameson

      It is how everything is written.

      Now it occurs to me that we must also do the inverse, where I erase all the letters in common that you used:

      vorite of o blend gor, Lord Bayo Le Awe was already as plao abive against icism in athetic discourse about t re r the world. spot f
      hi y l fate was astrousely insng, but chea with him! Irularity of oltion was his a to his fate.

      …although what that gets us, I’m not yet sure.

  9. Merzmensch

      Interesting turn. Dis-metamorphosis.
      This is becoming dadaistic touch, this is how dadaists often wrote their textes. Especially Schwitters with his “cut-it-out” technique.

  10. A D Jameson

      Yes, for every technique there is also the inversion of the technique. I think.

      Vote right or blend Gore. Lord Bayo Le Awe was already as plaid above. Against fascism in athletic discourse about terriers. The World! Spot fuck hi you lucky fate. Atrociously insinuating. But chia pets were with him! Iregularity often oils Voltron. Was his as as stapled to his face as it was to his fate?

  11. Another example of the word splitting technique « A D Jameson's Blahg

      […] used this technique when writing my first novel, Giant Slugs. The opening sentence of it is: We’ll all follow the […]

  12. Another way to generate text #8: Writing through a foreign language dictionary | HTMLGIANT

      […] Another way to generate text #6: “word splitting” […]