Deep into the hidden valleys of literature, past the forests of fiction and hills of poetry, lies a hidden gem called prose. Prose, which can be defined as a form of language characterized by its natural flow of speech, spans several forms of communication. With its origins tracing back as early as Shakespeare’s time, prose has come a long way from the dark ages. From comic books to science fiction, the modern-day prose is no longer restricted to its classical form.
Pushing the boundaries set by classical literature and making way for a newer and fresher take on prose is the premise behind Plural, an online prose journal that defies the traditional forms of prose and seeks to revolutionize the literary world. Catering to a younger and more tech-savvy audience, Plural features both fiction and non-fiction prose as well as visuals that help produce better stories.
What started out as an idea to create an online journal, Plural had been in the mental blueprints of its founders, Erika Carreon and Carlo Flordeliza. “More than a year ago, I told Erika that I wanted to start a journal. I’ve had this idea to start a journal for a long time but I never really had the motivation to do it. But when I approached Erika and told her about it, she said the same thing,” according to Flordeliza.
When asked about why they wanted to start a prose journal, Erika and Carlo illustrate the situation of Philippine literature still living in the past. “A lot of venues for publication in the Philippines still live in the 70s and 80s. Philippine literature is only going down one path, unlike Latin America and North America where fiction isn’t bound by a single governing genre. For us, we felt constrained by Philippine traditions and the topics we wanted to cover didn’t fit in with the norms,” says Flordeliza.
While the outdated pieces in Philippine literature may still exist today, there has been a growing resistance in fiction, works that go beyond prose in the traditional sense. However, the exposure of modern prose may not be as widespread, as Flordeliza adds, “People don’t really read them because the opportunity [to do so] isn’t there.”
Both Erika Carreon and Carlo Flordeliza knew that starting an online journal could provide an avenue for writers to produce stories told in unconventional yet substantial ways. But starting an online journal isn’t easy, which is why Erika and Carlo opted to look for others to be involved. “We looked for people who shared the same vision and at the same time people we could trust,” says Erika.
Joining Erika and Carlo in Plural’s editorial board are Neobie Gonzales, Lystra Aranal, Erich Velasco, and July Amarillo, all of whom are graduates of De La Salle University-Manila and former members of the Malate Literary Folio.
The name Plural was first used for one of the requirements in Erika’s master classes. “…We had to come up with an online journal but it wasn’t good. I mean what good can you come up with in a term, right?” joked Carreon. Originally, the online journal for Erika’s class was called “Plurality” to symbolize having a plurality of voices which is why they decided to stick with the label.
Plural is an online journal geared towards prose but is not the typical short stories and essays that most people would associate prose to be. As Erika puts it, “It also explores the idea of prose like prose poetry, or stories about infidelity told through PowerPoint slides.”
Plural calls on Filipinos who have a good grasp of the language, but surprisingly, they also receive submissions from all over the hemisphere – be it New York, Los Angeles, or even India. Since going international, it transcended the idea of providing just Filipino writers with a venue for their thoughts. Make no mistake: they are not all about highfalutin characters and complicated plot twists. Plural publishes the most ordinary of stories but narrated in such a way that grips the reader, instead of just half-baked magical settings.
Despite looking for no specific themes, they aim to take readers to places unexpected and unconventional with their submissions. Interestingly, they do not believe in rejecting works. If a submitted piece doesn’t meet the journal’s standards, they simply return it with comments and possible revisions, leaving the original author with room for improvement.
Inspiration: Just an excuse
Although Plural has surely inspired many readers and writers, the editors themselves do not believe in inspiration. While some require caffeine or an incredible life-changing phenomenon to start a spark, when asked about what gets their gears going, they simply point out one key ingredient: effort. From a single idea, it becomes a structured process where they build their story and track where it goes from there. As Flordeliza claims, “writing is just 10% of your original idea, and 90% revision”.
However, they are also firm believers of the saying “you are what you read”. They are heavily influenced by many books and other forms of literature that they have devoured over the years – from domestic fantasies, political fiction, post-World War II genres, to modern American fiction. Additionally, the “Plural” team shares that they owe a lot of their improvement to each other, for they make it a point to have regular meetings wherein they feed off each other’s ideas. By having a sense of community, they are able to provide themselves channels for discourse, opportunities for growth, and friendly criticisms.
The future of Plural
With their first issue just released last February, Plural has got a lot in store for their readers. They are currently in the process of expansion, with an official website where you can view and download their issues for free already up and running. Despite still being self-funded, eventually, they plan on taking their journal to hard print and paper. Of course, their goal remains to provide a venue for writers’ ideas, and additional discussion boards where people can freely address their concerns in fiction and other issues with writing. They also hope to invite other writers in the future as guests on the blog, as well as do author collections, anthologies, and themed sections.
Plural aims to speak for this generation’s world of literature. English class has been teaching us that writing is a cypher meant to be broken down in textbooks and grammar lessons. But issue-by-issue, they are attempting to change the landscape of fiction and recreate it as far from traditional.
Redefining the face of literature
With Plural, the editors encourage people to consider the alternative forms of literature, mainly, prose, which break free from the cookie-cutter image of what a good story should be. In the past, writing has been heavily constrained, but ever since the revolution of the Internet, works have transformed out of conformity. Gone are the days of classic Hemingway, and now begins an era of stories told in footnotes, hyperlinks, and more. The possibilities are endless.
The idea of playing with form is becoming more and more open and accepted by veteran authors and budding writers alike. Not anymore just a string of words stitched together, storytelling has evolved into an art form. Without a doubt, Plural is something to watch out for, whether you are a prose fan, avid poetry lover, or novella novice.