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Story Starts

Posted by mrssmythe on August 17, 2014 in Homeschool |

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Pepper came up with a fun system for starting stories the other day. She made piles of adjectives, nouns, and numbers, then color coded and arranged them in piles, inviting Ginger and I to randomly choose from the piles to complete the “sentence” above. It was a bit like Mad Libs, except you had less control.

The results were pretty original and almost always humorous. But what struck me most was how interesting they turned out to be. Because of the randomness, each story start had at least one unexpected element – something that made it memorable. Here are three we produced:

Once upon a time, in a cool, haunted kingdom, lived twenty cold goats.

(Goats? Cold goats as main characters? Sure! Why not?)

Once upon a time, in a sunny, cool museum, lived one strange woman.

(Hmmmm. How did the woman get there? And just what makes her strange?)

And, finally,

Once upon a time, in a dark, Nazi theme-park, lived fifty dirty cats. 

(Wow! Lots of possibilities with this one. I can already see it in my mind’s eye).

So, anyway, I think if I was teaching a writing course, I would introduce this as an exercise for generating ideas. Heck, you could even write an entire novel this way – using a similar system to generate traits for your characters and details for the plot. It would help narrow down your options and really force you to be creative. Oh, the possibilities!

Maybe now I can get that novel I’ve always wanted to write down on paper….

From the dining room table, wondering just what those cold goats are going to do about their haunted kingdom,

Mrs. Smythe

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9 Comments

  • Sarah Bro says:

    Let me guess. The goats burned the furniture in the kingdom to get warm and ate the tapestries. Yep. Goats.

  • TeaLady says:

    I’m all for anything that makes learning fun!

  • Amy says:

    Ooh, what fun . . . could be a great way to combat writer’s block. I love it!

  • IrishMum says:

    20 cold goats? Please tell me they survived 😉

    • mrssmythe says:

      I would like to think so. The stories I write (or hope to write) all have happy endings. 🙂

  • Mr. Bob says:

    …and was the woman who lived in the museum alive, or is this more like a metaphorical wax or stone woman? Or is this a Night at the Museum type of woman? I’m already wondering about the sequel … or movie rights! I knew Pepper before she was famous!

    • mrssmythe says:

      Hmmmm – that’s an interesting question. I hadn’t even thought about the woman being one of the exhibits. And don’t worry, Mr. Bob. We’ll make sure you get a first edition, autographed copy of any book that comes out of this. 😉

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