The pulp was once weird, wild, crazy, but has become stagnation, a part of our reality. Surrealism is a way of upending that, to break stagnation
Surrealism is a great tool for refocusing something, to make something fresh again. By taking things that are common and familiar and making them unfamiliar
Pulp is about action, about tenseness, about plotting and punching and screaming. It’s about lurid landscapes, unspeakable horror, it’s about decadence and grotesqueness. It is about the weird, the beating of the weird in the butterfly heart of the world.
The marriage of the two is inevitable in a way. They exist in the same emotional register, the same lurid space in time. Both exist to shock the mind into seeing something beyond itself
The writers who claim to write in the same way as the pulps these days (and use phrases like Ripping Yarns and talk on and on about escapism) are staid, uninteresting, just repeating the same concepts and precepts over and over again.
The sigils have lost power, the romance have been sucked out. They’ve been repeating for so long they forgot what it was like to be smacked in the face with a hammer
So how does one write Pulp Surrealism?
It is written in the pulp register- what Moorcock called the language of exuberance in an essay in Wizardry and Wild Romance. I like this term- it screams of joy and excitement and Extremes to the Extreme. My original term I used was narrative urgency- but that just makes it sound like you have to use the bathroom. Language of Exuberance. Such joy.
Prose will be loud and fast and full of fire. Poetic? If needs be.
Environment will mirror the character and the action. World building will be character building. Action will be character building. Everything is a psychological mirror.
Landscape, environment, setting, character design, clothing design, etc will be surreal. Realities will be reconfigured to exist in the surrealist register, and will shock the reader into seeing the pulp in a different way, in a new way.
Imagination will no longer be codified into mimicry of some dusty old archive labelled classics. It will be set free to be wild and running and completely mad.
What constitutes as Pulp is up to the writer. What constitutes as Surreal is up to them as well. It’s about opening boundaries, not restricting imagination.
I know some writers and publishers are going to scoff scoff and talk about writing to market, and all good writers write for money and blah blah blah is there a market for this?
Look around you. The economic landscape for writers is disgusting. It’s the disparity of wealth is that of a third world country. The top 10% of the writers earn the majority of income, while the rest scrabble for a little above minimum wage.
You’re most likely not going to make a living as a writer. Since that’s the case, why do you care about writing to market? Make a market. Sell the fiction. If you feel inspired: write. If it’s like a whip to the face, someone will publish it eventually.
Length is pulp length- short, burning, fast and furious. 60-70k is about normal, stretching it to 80k. Pulp and pulp surrealism is not the subject of giant mammoth books filled with pages and pages of zzzZZZzzz. It’s quick, it’s candy. It tastes just dandy.
What would be perfect is serialization in a magazine first and then published as a quick little punch of a book. But we all know how feasible that is these days.