Hermit crabbing is often used for moving a text/story into a pre-structured form. This idea of bending genre isn’t new, it started with Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and some of Shakespeare’s plays. Edgar Lee Master’s classic, Spoon River Anthology is a great example of this as well. Hermit crabbing can consist of nearly anything, a quiz, a drug label, a prose sonnet, lists and so on.
Find a short story, an essay, or a poem that isn’t working. Pull out 14 lines and write each on a different index card or slip of paper. (You can also use 14 lines from different pieces, or from some of your favorite writings).
Using your 14 lines for the basis of your eventual 14 paragraph/section/stanza new work, imagining each as part of a paragraph (some paragraphs will only be one sentence). Work and rearrange them in the way that makes the most sense. Write new sentences to be placed before and/or after them to fill out the blanks.
Rules: The new paragraph HAS to begin with the word/words/phrase/something in close proximity of the phrase in the paragraph/stanza before it.
An example, "Standing Still," by Mile-High MFA faculty mentor Chip Livingston, is attached.
In this lesson you’ll be making connections and taking associative leaps. Lots of great writers, artists, and scientists have talked about the importance of collecting ideas and bits of knowledge from the world around us, and making connections between those dots to fuel creative thinking and new ideas.
Watch the short four-minute video and get more from the attached pdf.