In Other Words: Crafting the Uncanny: A Writer's Guide to Embracing the Strange - Carmen Maria Machado

American literature essay. Literary analysis of works and characters - Sykalo Evgen 2023

In Other Words: Crafting the Uncanny: A Writer's Guide to Embracing the Strange
Carmen Maria Machado

Carmen Maria Machado goes beyond the confines of a straightforward craft manual in her engrossing and perceptive book In Other Words, providing a riveting investigation of the eerie and its transformational potential in writing. She extends an invitation for us to enter the shadows, embrace the unusual and the uncomfortable, and incorporate these themes into stories that are both beautiful and terrifying. Through literary study, practical exercises, and her own experiences, Machado offers aspiring authors a road map for navigating the unexplored realm of the uncanny and creating stories that linger long after the last page is turned.

The Temptation of the Hidden:

Machado starts by exploring the essence of the uncanny, which is that unnerving sensation of familiarity combined with unfamiliarity. She delves into its historical foundations in the works of Freud and Hoffmann, its representations in popular culture and literature, and its persistent allure for the imagination. This theoretical basis creates the framework for comprehending the uncanny as a powerful instrument for arousing reader interest and generating emotional depth rather than as a literary trick.

Past the Jump Fear:

Machado advises against relying solely on inexpensive thrills. She contends that the subtlety, the gradual onset of uneasiness, and the lingering feeling that something is off, are what give the uncanny its actual impact. She offers helpful advice on how to accomplish this, covering everything from using unreliable narrators and shifting perspectives to deploying rich imagery and sensory details to create an uncomfortable atmosphere that makes the reader uneasy.

Discovering the Monster Within:

Machado highlights the value of introspection in creating the eerie. She urges authors to connect with their own anxieties and fears—the things that make them writhe at night—and express those feelings on paper. She contends that in order to craft real and accessible stories that connect with readers on a visceral level, this vulnerability is essential.

My Body as a Painting:

Machado goes beyond the paranormal in his investigation of the weird. She explores how our physical shapes can be sources of both beauty and horror, as well as the disquieting possibilities of the body itself. This may be seen in her own work, where bizarre transformations, body changes, and the blending of human and animal borders are common themes.

Going Beyond the Genre

Machado takes a delightfully non-genre-specific approach. She shows how the eerie may be used into a variety of literary genres, including romance, science fiction, horror, and even children's books. This inclusion dismantles the artificial barriers that frequently stifle creativity by enabling writers to explore the uncanny and the odd within their own chosen formats.

In summary:

In Other Words is a manifesto for accepting the unusual as an essential component of storytelling, not just a manual for crafting the eerie. By means of her perceptive evaluation, useful advice, and first-hand experiences, Machado encourages authors to stretch the bounds of their creativity, face their personal anxieties, and create stories that stay with readers long after the last page is turned. Machado contends that by embracing the uncanny, we can tell stories that are both amusing and transformative—they make us face the shadows in our own selves and the world we live in.

Additional Thoughts:

Examine particular sections of In Other Words where Machado creates an eerie atmosphere with words and images.
Talk about how the reader contributes to the eerie experience. How can authors encourage readers to investigate the unusual?
Examine how Machado's identity and life experiences are reflected in her writing style and approach to the uncanny.
Think about the moral ramifications of utilizing the eerie in writing. When creating eerie stories, what obligations do authors have to their readers?