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?)
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,