Saturday, December 31, 2005


This idea was suggested as a game but each person needs a dictionary and there's a lot of flipping through pages involved so it may work better with a small group who love looking words up or as a solitary game.

Take a saying or short poem or short quote. Change all the nouns to the 7th word following it in the dictionary. (If the 7th word is a form of the original word (like mankind is a form of man) keep moving down the words until you get something bizarre.)

Save the best ones for writing prompts.

To get you started, here's a couple of haiku from Basho, one of the most famous haiku poets.
An old pond—
The sound of a frog jumping
into water.

The first cold shower;
Even the monkey seems to want
A little coat of straw.
And a couple of quotes from Basho:
"There is nothing you can see that is not a flower; There is nothing you can think that is not the moon."

"Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home."
There's also a huge list of aphorisms (short witty sayings) at Fortunes. NOTE: all the first ones are computer based. Keep scrolling until you see the first letter change to f or h or p.
b computer humor
c computer profound
f fortune cookies
h humorous
p profound/serious

The only online dictionary I know of that will show the words preceeding and following a word is The Free Dictionary. Type in a word or phrase. Click "Look it up". Then scroll down to the bottom of the page. The list of surrounding words is on the left. In fact it gives exactly 7 words before and 7 words after your word. Click on the last word in the lefthand list to get the next 7 words.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

They fight crime

Pick a pair of crime fighters as a writing prompt. Or mix and match. Or, since it may be a bit much to pack into a 15 minute writing prompt, pick just one ...
  • He's an ungodly day-dreaming cat burglar whom everyone believes is mad. She's a plucky Buddhist safe cracker living homeless in New York's sewers. They fight crime!

  • He's a scrappy Jewish barbarian trapped in a world he never made. She's a plucky belly-dancing Valkyrie from the wrong side of the tracks. They fight crime!

  • He's a lonely coffee-fuelled inventor from the Mississippi delta. She's a brilliant extravagent mermaid in the witness protection scheme. They fight crime!

  • He's a notorious day-dreaming boxer on a mission from God. She's a sarcastic voodoo vagrant looking for love in all the wrong places. They fight crime!

  • He's a war-weary cyborg from the 'hood. She's a gun-slinging guitar-strumming card sharp possessed of the uncanny powers of an insect.. They fight crime!

  • He's a maverick misogynist dwarf fleeing from a secret government programme. She's a man-hating extravagent college professor from a secret island of warrior women. They fight crime!
These were automatically generated at They Fight Crime.

(Note, occasionally the teams will reference sexual orientation and I saw hooker come up once.)

Words in words

Use the following words that are in other words in sentences:
star in startle
lever in clever
turn in turnip
grin in grind
sigh in sight
urge in splurge
icky in picky/tricky
love in slovenly
harm in pharmacy
can in candor
hut in shuttle
cue in rescue
cry in crystal
want in wanton
age in language
ugh in laughter
laughter in slaughter
bit in ambition
red in credit
hop in shop
These are from Words in words.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A naive bard, a tactless knight and a watchman

Pick one of the following fantasy ideas as a writing prompt. You may want to pick just a few elements from a prompt since they are a bit much for a 15 minute exercise.
  • The story is about an official, a watchman, a duke, and a herbologist. It takes place in a city-sized magical device. An important bloodline plays a prime part.

  • The story is about a naive bard, a tactless knight, and a watchman. It takes place in a coliseum. The story ends with an apocalyptic event. An impending magical conflux plays an important role.

  • This is an exploitation-style story with an undercurrent about the need for traditional values. The story is about a bard. It starts in a holy commonwealth in a universe where space travel occurs by magical means. The story climaxes with a tragedy. The destruction of a magical artifact plays an important role.

  • This is a comedy-of-manners with an emphasis on lost love. The story is about a spy. It starts in a metropolis. Magic is fading in power, and that plays an important role in the story.

  • This is a surreal comedy with an emphasis on creativity and the oddities of the human condition. The story is about three miserly alchemists. It starts in a haunted commonwealth. The crux of the story involves a sport being played. The return of an ancient evil at regular cycles plays an important role in the story.
These were automatically generated at Story Generator using the Fantasy option.

7 sentence story

Write a 7 sentence story for a set of 7 nouns. The trick this time is the words need to be in the order listed. Pick one set or do as many as you want.
  • stripes

  • valley

  • disease

  • ears
Inspired by Story Chains at Telling Tales.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Bright and lovely chestnuts

Wish I'd stumbled across this site earlier in the month but since I didn't I decided to send it as a Christmas present. :-)

Write a story that includes one of these sentences. Try writing the sentence down and working onward from it. Then if you find you need to build up to the sentence for the story to make sense, just add some at the beginning
  • During the silent night jingled bright and lovely chestnuts.
  • On Santa's lap flew frozen and adorable children.
  • In the winter wonderland flashed huge and sparkling snowflakes.
  • During the blizzard rejoiced glittering and festive angels.
  • Through the wintery darkness sparkled bright and colorful children.
  • In the frozen north glittered toasty and warm carolers.
These sentences were automatically generated at WritingFix's Great Sentence Creator: Funny Christmas.

Or do the same with one of these sentences. (You can rearrange the parts between the "/"s to make the sentences sound the way you want them to. For example, "on Christmas day" can go at the beginning. Of course you can always alter any prompt!)
  • The sticky candy cane / drifted / behind the house / on Christmas day.
  • Frozen Old Frosty / teetered / beside the big tree / during the snowstorm.
  • Magnificent Mary / plunged / next to the chimney / late in the afternoon.
  • The amazing angel / bounced / in back of the couch / before we said grace.
  • A radical Rudolph / slunk / across the yard / on Christmas Eve.
  • The luminous lights / drifted / next to the package / during the snowstorm.
These sentences were automatically generated at Who/What/When/Where Games: Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Random manga lines

One way to jump start a story when you're stuck is to randomly choose a line from a book. I used this at least twice last month during NaNoWriMo and actually prompted two of my favorite scenes and characters. Since my writing is rather manga-ish, I chose lines from manga.

Pick one as a writing prompt.
  • "Looks like hell has officially frozen over."

  • "The thoughts of a fool amount to nothing no matter how high they are piled."

  • "'This nation will be mine!' Or so he says."

  • "The body's moving by itself!"

  • "What'd you do with my rice bowl!"

  • "You weren't so civil last time we met. Do you remember? I was still gathering my powers."

  • "And I nrver goy the best of him ... not once! Like I said, he's brilliant."

  • "It's nothing ... I just sensed someone looking at me."

  • "It took much longer this time, didn't it?"

  • "You little fraud! Showing your true nature at last I see!"

Wistful wishes

Write the alphabet down the side of the page. Write an alliterative phrase -- like wistful wishes -- that has to do with the holiday season for each letter.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Seasonal words

Use the following words in a fantasy or science fiction story that isn't about Christmas or the holiday season.
ice crystals
batteries not included
winter berries
three wise men

Made up words

Use the following "words" in sentences. You can try doing more than one word per sentence. (The picture, btw, is one of the made up words that turned out to be real.)
The words are from a page by Jeroen Kessel. You can randomly generate 100 words that have an English, Brazilian, Danish, Dutch, French, German or Portuguese flavor. They're created by analyzing letter grouping frequencies, so an "n" in English is more likely to be followed by an "e" and a "q".

He has a page of other types of generators sentence generators, name generators, Shakesperean insult generators.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Bonsai text

Go to Bonsai Story Generator. Take a piece of writing you've done. Cut and paste in a chunk of text. She says, "Three or four passages of 1000 words each are recommended for best effect (note that this box won't hold text longer than about 6,000 words total)"

Paste it in and click Bonsai this text. It will cut and paste and twist your text around and put it in a sort of tree form.

Some of the juxtaposed lines might serve as writing prompts.

Here's Kathryn's:

Katzah had just started the banquet.
I'm thinking that Avn had slept through.
Now, onto slightly more of them now do we?
Katzah Korp.
Everyone get packed, we're leaving in deserted towns and eating Cornucopias.
And he just started the ones that say 'Meep!' and twenty eight minutes.
That is the gift The Martians give people special gifts like some kind of these
Gorbenphlappes can!
Watch out, and placing your ceiling and we suspect that there have dark purple
eyes and eating Cornucopias.
And he just started his gourd like some kind of this costume?
Or, does it just stay on everyone!!
I have to go to be hidden at all times.
How can he have explained rocking from Gorbenphlappes and blow things up.

And mine:

Oozing canker!
bellowed the rocks.
The demon sank its fangs into the lesser demon deformed and found himself against a berserker slaughterfest.
His hard gaze suggested his blade to a screech and sliced the wintery air.
But he drew his clothing and hair were covered with the effort.
He brushed idly at Rane.
With a lesser demon sank a mid-order demon.
And the rocks.
The lesser demon squirmed around and bewildered as he looked down on the scene.
In the cold as he prepared to a slit and hair and hair and flattened and face until he was still not satisfied.
What are you to greet you properly.
Forgive me!
Rane returned his blade to greet you to greet you to greet you to greet you doing?
Rane returned his blade to twice its treatment, the show.
Puking rump feeder!
The demon's whine turned to a berserker slaughterfest.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Exquisite Corpse

Another game for over the holiday season, this is a writing game for a group.

What you need:
  • a group of people
  • writing implement for each person
  • a sheet of paper for each person
How to:

Write down the side of each paper.
  • Article (traditionally a, an, the, but also: some, all, every, one, ...)
  • Adjective
  • Noun
  • Adverb
  • Verb
  • Article
  • Adjective
  • Noun
The first person fills in an article and passes the paper to the right. The second person fills in an adjective and folds the paper over to hide the article before passing the paper to the right. The third person fills in a noun and folds the paper over to hide the adjective before passing the paper to the right. So each time the paper is passed, the person accepting the paper will only be able to see the most recently added word.

Keep going until all the words are filled in. Then open them up and look at the sentences created.

(You can use any structure of sentence. The above is the structure of the original game that prompted its name.)

It's speculated the name came from one of the first keepers "The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine."

If you would like to contribute to an online Exquisite Corpse Poem go to Exquisite Corpse Poetry. Click on Game (up at the top in the gray bar)

The circles show how many words have been added to a line. (If the last one's blinking only one more word is needed and you can complete a line.) Click on a verse and it will tell you what type of word is needed. Type in your word and then submit.

Click on Verse (again up in the gray bar) to see lines that have been completed. If you change the month you can see the top vote getters. They can be used as writing prompts.

There's also a longer ongoing poem at An Exquisite Corpse Poem. This displays the most recently submitted line of the poem. You supply the next. When you click "Activate" (which submits your line) you can see the poem so far.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


This may be more fun without the timer. From last week, a lipogram is a type of constrained writing, done by forbidding words that have a particular letter or particular letters. An anti-lipogram on the other hand requires words to have a particular letter or letters

Rewrite Mary Had a Little Lamb using only words containing e. (Obviously you'll have to change her name!) Also try anti-lipograms with t and a.

Here's the original:
Mary had a little lamb,
its fleece was white as snow;
and everywhere that Mary went,
the lamb was sure to go.
It followed her to school one day,
which was against the rule;
it made the children laugh and play,
to see a lamb at school.
(If you need help with the rhymes Rhymezone has a rhyming dictionary.)

Even harder is to write using only one vowel. That's called univocalic prose.

Here's Mary Had a Little Lamb using words that don't have any vowels except "e". I'll put it down below so you don't see it until you're done with yours. Scroll down when you're done:



Meg kept the wee sheep.
The sheep's fleece resembled sleet.
Then, whenever Meg went,
The sheep went there next...

Holiday spirit

What will the winter holidays be like on a Moon or Mars colony?

What about an interstellar ship that's traveling for months at a time (like the slow moving mining ships in Star Trek Voyager)?

How do garden fairies celebrate the winter holidays?

Do rocks have holiday spirit?

What do fire demons do at this time of the year?

How does Spider-Man celebrate the holidays?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Hermione and the Three Mountain Trolls

Rewrite a fairy tale with other characters. Here's some examples or pick whatever strikes your muse.
  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears as Hermione and the Three Mountain Trolls or Barbie and the Three Wise Men

  • Beauty and the Beast as The Veela and the Giant

  • Frog Prince as The Random Pretty Alien and the Randy Capt. Kirk (or reverse them)

  • Sleeping Beauty as the Carbonized Han Solo or, for manga fans, The Sleeping Inuyasha

  • Little Red Riding Hood as Little Red Caped Superman

  • Hansel and Gretel as Rome-el and Juliet-el

12 Days of Christmas

Make a new list for the 12 Days of Christmas song. You could try a theme like Star Trek, classic monsters, Dragonball Z, food, cars ...

Here's the original:
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Twelve drummers drumming,
eleven pipers piping,
ten lords a-leaping,
nine ladies dancing,
eight maids a-milking,
seven swans a-swimming,
six geese a-laying,
five golden rings;
four colly birds,
three French hens,
two turtle doves
and a partridge in a pear tree.
When you're done, there are several parodies listed toward the bottom of the Wikipedia article.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Eat Poop You Cat

If you'll be with a group of loony people over the holiday season, this is a writing/drawing game for a group.

What you need:
  • a group of people
  • writing implement for each person
  • small pad of paper for each person
How to:

Each person writes a sentence on their pad. They all pass their pads to the right. Each person looks at the phrase, flips to the next page and illustrates the sentence.

Pass to the right again. Each person looks at the illustration, flips to the next page and tries to reproduce the original sentence. (Obviously that's not possible which is the fun part!

Pass to the right again.

Continue until the pads have gone all the way around (or through an odd number of people since it should end with a sentence.)

Then look over the evolution of the sentence.

There are links to examples at the bottom of Wikipedia Eat Poop You Cat article.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


This may be more fun without the timer. A lipogram is a type of constrained writing, done by forbidding words that have a particular letter or particular letters.

Rewrite Mary Had a Little Lamb without using the letter s. Try also eliminating a, e, h and t. (And anything else you'd like to try.)

Here's the original:
Mary had a little lamb,
its fleece was white as snow;
and everywhere that Mary went,
the lamb was sure to go.
It followed her to school one day,
which was against the rule;
it made the children laugh and play,
to see a lamb at school.
(If you need help Rhymezone has an online rhyming dictionary.)

When you're done, Ross Eckler has come up with several constrained versions of Mary Had a Little Lamb.

If you think that was hard, people have written entire novels under various restraints:

11 Incredible Lipograms

Lipogrammatic Works of Fiction

And a new book that even gets very good reviews. It's a satire on censorship.

Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters

From Amazon: Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal pangram,* “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island’s Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop. As the letters progressively drop from the statue they also disappear from the novel. The result is both a hilarious and moving story of one girl’s fight for freedom of expression, as well as a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Advertising villains

Your favorite villain has opened up a business or some kind of service. (Think about the villain's skills and strengths and what kind of business the villain would be really good at.) Write an ad for the business.

Five random words: The guest thief

Write sentences that contain all 5 of the words on each line. Feel free to change some of the word endings, eg, change jokes to joked or joking.
  1. guest thief horns stripes jokes
  2. spiked mossy meadow liver dancer
  3. explore unbelievable jokes seasons embarrassed
  4. million master spiral eyeball cavern
  5. squealed baboon traveler curved drench
  6. disease crooked hobbled monk squashed
  7. ooze frost wings roam checkered
  8. dangerous meadow baboon chameleon entertainment
  9. hobbled invent scorpion return strange
  10. screech acrobat unusual crackling sharp
  11. demon unfriendly moldy million flipped
  12. stranger rage curved mystery valley
  13. shy crumbling sweat brain amazing
  14. private entertainment hunger shy eyeball
  15. shy miniscule complain fantastic gigantic
  16. whimpered deep unusual guard fuzzy
  17. fatal enjoyable overgrown reward book
  18. shiver tongue creature penalty misty
  19. past coward whimpered horrible dragon
  20. priest dangerous protest frightened guest
This was inspired by the game Baffle-Gab. I haven't played the game but it does look fun. (Though from the examples shown at the website the nouns look like present day stuff like astronauts and so on.)

If you're clever with spreadsheets, you can generate more sets of 5 random words like above.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Freezer full of waitresses

This is from the NaNoWriMo Adopt-a-plot folder where writers post extra plots they won''t be using. It was a snatch of overheard -- hopefully misoverheard! -- conversation in a check out line.

Use it as a 10-15 minute writing prompt or go for a longer piece.

SHE: "There's no way we're going to fit all of that in the freezer. It's still full of waitresses. "

HE: "I keep forgetting."

#543 at NaNoWriMo - contributed by SnappingTurtle.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Use the following homophones in a sentence or phrase. (The -s means the plurals are also homophones.)
pride, pried
tea, tee, ti ["do, re"], [T]
toad, toed, towed
udder (-s), utter (-s)
worst, wurst
aerie, airy
ate, eight
bazaar, bizarre
braid, brayed
dewed, dude
ewes, use, yews
friar, fryer
its, it's
lightening, lightning
loan, lone
miner, minor
pi, pie
prince, prints
rose, rows
tacked, tact
taper (-s), tapir (-s)
thyme, time
waist (-s), waste (-s)
whose, who's
yore, your, you're
you'll, yule
When you're done, Dittograms has some funny (and punny) homophones.

Tour of Klingon

You are (or a character you've created is) on a tour of the Klingon home planet. Start a travel diary and each day this month make a brief entry about what happened "that day". You might find inspiration in your own day to translate into a vacation day. (As usual feel free to change Klingon to a setting from a favorite book or movie or video game or ...)

Top 10 tabloid headlines for December 2005

From The City Newsstand's (a newsstand/bookstore in Chicago) monthly MAGBAG -- Top 10 Tabloid Headlines. (Mostly from Weekly World News (WWN) and the SUN.)

Choose one as a writing prompt.

  6. Are you offended by naked animals? Then welcome to the . . . CIRCUS OF THE PRUDES — WWN
  7. MAN HITS SNOOZE 892 TIMES—and strolls into work 5? days late! — WWN