Hermit Crab Funny

The term, “Hermit Crab Writing,” may or not be familiar to you (or your writing practice), but this form of “form writing” is definitely du jour in indie and mainstream literary circles. One very famous example is Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, in which certain elements of the narrative are funneled into PowerPoint slides:

A picture with the caption Dad's Questions/Lincoln's Answers. The image is of various questions and answers on a seesaw. Dad's questions are heavier than Lincoln's answers.

I love the “straight-jacket” feeling of writing in a particular “borrowed” form. As a writer, I am restricted to the form, but in that very restriction a certain freedom springs forth. Since I have to stick to the mechanics of the form, I am even freer to delve into the other rhetorical elements.

Such as humor!

This “Hermit Crab” or “Borrowed Form” piece from KB Carle is a prime example of comedy and diagram colliding:

A Venn diagram about Lottie, LuBertha, and Myrtle.

Read the piece at The Offing Magazine website: In Exchange for the Final Pudding Cup, We Offer Our Inner Thoughts

💡Hermit Crab PROMPT💡

Option 1: Take one of your recent writings (in this course or from elsewhere) and reformulate it as a hermit crab. For example, if you wrote about a clown going to Las Vegas and losing his red nose, rewrite the narrative as a police report.

Option 2: Consider an unusual form for a new piece. Examples of borrowed forms could be: letters, diagrams, nutritional labels, recipes, text messages, newsletters etc. etc.