Pastiche . . . Prompt #591

Today’s writing prompt is not the usual 15-20 minute freewrite. Instead, it’s a bit more challenging and will take time to pursue.

When you are ready for the challenge . . . Create a pastiche.

Pastiche (pronounced pass-TEESH) is a creative work that imitates another author or genre. It’s a way of paying respect, or honor, to great works of the past. Pastiche differs from parody in that pastiche isn’t making fun of the works it imitates – however, the tone of pastiche is often humorous.”

Examples of Pastiche

The TV show 30 Rock is about a television studio, so there are plenty of opportunities for pastiche. In various episodes, the show mimics classic shows like “The Brady Bunch” or “Seinfeld” and major television events like the Olympics. From the tone of the show, it’s clear that these imitations come from a place of irreverent love, so they fall into the category of pastiche rather than parody.

Pastiche is common in music, as musicians try out new styles in order to keep their sound from getting stale.

An example is Queen’s “Thing Called Love” (a pastiche of Elvis Presley).

Hip-hop frequently employs a broad pastiche of jazz, blues, and R&B sounds.

Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films are a simultaneous pastiche of two genres: westerns and kung fu movies.

The Purpose of Pastiche

The main purpose of using pastiche is to celebrate great works, or genres that a given show, movie, or story does not actually belong to.

A secondary purpose of pastiche can be to create variety. In a show like “The Simpsons,” the writers and animators use pastiche to shake up the look and feel of the show.

Examples of Pastiche 

Allen Ginsburg’s “Howl” is a pastiche of “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman. By employing Whitman’s poetic form, Ginsburg hoped to speak to his generation in the same way Whitman did to his.

Much of Amy Winehouse’s music is a pastiche of classic soul and R&B. The instruments, rhythms, and the sound of her voice all sound highly reminiscent of music from the 1950s and 60s – even her hair was modeled on the styles that were popular in that generation. 

Tips for Writing a Pastiche:

Study the original work

Restructure the original work

Infuse your own meaning

Prompt: Use a well-known story from a book, TV show, movie, play, libretto, opera, or a song . . . And write a pastiche.

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