Thursday, November 4, 2010

Covert Fiction

Post by Kerrie
I did a group writing activity at our Northern Colorado Writers coffee last week that had many of us in tears we laughed so hard. In the spirit of NaNoWriMo, this activity makes you write fast and not over think what you are putting on the page.

The way it works is everyone sits around a table. Each person writes one sentence at the top of a piece of paper. Then, everyone passes that paper to the person on their left. This person adds another sentence, playing off the first sentence.

Here is where the covert part comes into play. Before passing the piece of paper again, each person  folds the paper back so the only thing showing is the last sentence. Then it is passed on, a new sentence is added, the paper is folded back, it is passed on.... This process is repeated until you run out of room on the paper or time.

The end product is bizarre flash fiction stories that take unusual and often hysterical twists and turns. We had 11 writers in our group and took about 10 minutes for the activity. Here are some of our favorites:
The Thumping and scratching on the roof woke her from a deep sleep. She threw back the covers and jumped out of bed.
"Oh my. I forgot the potatoes in the oven!"
My grandma was one great cook but lately she had been forgetting things. She forgot to add the milk to the recipe and we got an unexpected result! Bravely, she tasted the concoction and was surprise by the outcome. It tasted like the sweet lemonade her mother use to make. She wished she had some of her grandmother's shortbread to go with it. But since she didn't, she took out a cigarette and lit it. A man immediately came up and grabbed it from her, smashing it under his toe as he scolded her for smoking.

They found her body in a roadside ditch, the bullet holes slashing a diagonal across her chest. The puddle of blood was starting to freeze in the frigid, cold air. I jumped in the puddle, but slipped and fell. Luckily I caught myself on the nearby trash can, but my hand slipped on some ketchup. That did it, I was going to have to start disciplining my grandkids. If I'd known it was going to rain all day, I would have brought an umbrella! I raced through the rain with my book bag covering my head. Before I knew it, I ran into her, knocking us both onto the sidewalk. I scrambled to gather the papers before the wind blew them across the street. They ended up in a huge pile of leaves, which the sweeper sucked into its bowels.

He wadded up the piece of paper he had written on and threw it in the fire. Standing, he sipped the brandy, admiring how the firelight bounced off the Waterford crystal, reflecting its pattern on the floor. She sat on the bearskin rug, the light turning her olive skin into a dark shade of gold. The fire crackled and hissed in front of her, and the wind howled through the crack in the door. She remembered the last time with him, it had been a night like this. The wine, the full moon, the sex. And the body tangled in seaweed at the water's edge. When a mermaid swam up and helped it. The water was so cold she took a long time and sadly she sank into oblivion.

Everyone but George thought is was odd that he lived in a bowling alley. Quite frankly though, the rent was cheap as long as he kept the pins clean. He hoped he wasn't making a mistake in signing the lease. Something in the back of his mind nagged at him--his mother from beyond the grave. He could see her sour face, shaking her finger, pointing it, much too close to his face. Was this flesh in front of him, or a horrid hologram, sprung from his fetid memory? He reached out to touch her. She bit his hand. And he liked it. He wanted her to bite him more!

Gary had a thick beard, dark, shiny hair, and small evenly spaced teeth. The only thing that put me off was his breath, which reeked of dumpster food. Other than that, there was something attractive about him. His big ears were hardly noticeable when I focused on his gorgeous blue eyes. They had this spark of life in them that I never noticed before. Eyes that sparkled and glowed with anticipation. It was finally time for them to take the stage. Standing in the spotlight, they watched the audience reaction. It was dead silent, then a baby cried out.

80% of your happiness comes from just 20% of the things you do each day. Why is this true--everyone has a different answer. One man says it's completely plausible while the next finds it preposterous. What he liked best about debating was pricking the conscience of the his opponent. He spoke with an English accent, quoting from Shakespeare. She tuned him out, and with a dreamy trance-like look in her eyes, she gazed out the window at the pond and the willow tree. A single leaf descended, plopped into the water, making rings of ripples on the mirrored surface. The fairy jumped on the leaf, hoping it would take her away from the horrors she just left behind. The leaf was too small for her weight and they went under.

Laying awake listening to the wind howling, she was reminded of the childhood summers on the Maine Coast. The sound of the surf was so similar and she tried to find comfort in that. It brought her back, way back to the place her father drowned. The time when she felt her life was over. It was the day she received her first agent rejection for the novel she'd been writing for 10 years.
"Why?" she said and sobbed. Then she thought how to plan her revenge. She moved quickly searching the cupboard for a weapon. The spoon was too soft. Dropping the spoon, he decided to use his hands.



Summer Ross said...

Wow- that list is wonderfully funny! I really enjoyed reading it and think it was a great idea for you guys to do!

Have a wonderful day!

bfav said...

Love this. Maybe this is how I should approach NaNo.

Bob McDonnell said...

I was one of the writers, and it was great fun. Thanks. What a creative group we had--but aren't most of the NCW members that way?

Kerrie-I would like to repost this blog post on my wordsbybob blog. Is that okay? You and NCW will get full credit of course.

I plan to use the "game" at a family get-together soon.

Patricia Stoltey said...

This was such a great writing exercise, Kerrie. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Kerrie said...

Summer-its also fun to do around the dinner table, at a restaurant or at a holiday dinner with family.
Bob, I would love for you to repost this on your blog. Just be sure to get me the link.

Pat I am glad you enjoyed it. We will have to do it again sometime.

Jesse Lunsford said...

I am in another part of the country but will be moving to Colorado before the end of the year. I look Howard to exercises like this. Keep up the good work. Hope to meet your group soon.

Bob McDonnell said...

Kerrie My post at is

I titled it Mad-libs on steroids.

Thanks again

Share a Post