ecuador-realism

Today we would like to share a wonderfully inspiring Ted Talk by South American writer of magical realism Isabel Allende:

How to Live Passionately No Matter What Your Age

After you have clicked onto above and watched the short Ted Talk why not try out our magical realism creative writing exercise! – from Open Age tutor Mike Loveday…

About Magical Realism:

‘Magic Realism’ or ‘Magical Realism’ is a genre of writing “in which magical, fantastic, or supernatural events take place in an otherwise realistic context.”[1]

  • “It’s a chiefly literary style or genre originating in Latin America that combines fantastic or dreamlike elements with reality.”[2]
  • “The term ‘magical realism’ was first used by the German art critic Frank Roh to describe the unusual realism of primarily American painters such as Ivan Albright, Paul Cadmus, George Tooker and other artists during the 20s. It grew popular in the 20th century with the rise of such writers as Mikhail Bulgakov, Ernst Junger and many Latin American writers, notably Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende.”[3]
  • Notable books containing Magical Realist elements include One Hundred Years of Solitude (Marquez), The House of the Spirits (Allende), Like Water for Chocolate (Laura Esquivel), Midnight’s Children (Salman Rushdie), and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz)
  • Magical Realist stories “tend to treat reality as completely fluid and have characters who accept this as normal… characters are subjected to strange and bizarre events, but the background remains stubbornly ‘ordinary’. As Julian Birkett notes in his Word Power: A Guide to Creative Writing, ‘The point about magic realism is that the realism is quite as important as the magic.’ ”[4]
  • “When writing a magical realist story, concentrate on keeping it dream-like… a weird kind of logic underlying the strangest events. Settings should seem odd, yet familiar. When magical events occur, they should seem normal. Don’t comment on them. Don’t express surprise. Don’t explain.”[5]

Magical Realism Exercise:

  • Can you think of any unusual gifts or strange curses?
  • Spend 5 minutes brainstorming a short list.
  • The gift/blessing or curse can be positive or negative.
  • It can be about one person or a group of people. What happens to them or the people around them?

Here are some examples:

1) A whole village – one morning all the racist people wake up with green noses

2) Somebody who when their mood changes the weather changes in the local area

3) Someone who changes into an animal i.e an angry person who turns into a snake. A happy person who changes into a fish. Or a sad person who changes into a cat… etc.

f you’d like to share your short stories on our blog please send them to Hester at: hjones@openage.org.uk

[1] Zoe Fairbairns, Write Short Stories – And Get Them Published, London: Hodder Education, 2011, p.136

[2] Catherine Smith, ‘Myth and Magic’ in Short Circuit: A Guide to the Art of the Short Story (2nd edn.), ed. Vanessa Gebbie, Norfolk: Salt, 2013, p.154

[3] Smith, p.154

[4] Smith, p.154

[5] Fairbairns, p.138

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