You’ll need a pen

Last night I taught writing games to my Toastmaster’s group. It was my turn to play Toastmistress, and I like to intersperse the speeches with something fun. I taught them all about a surrealistic technique called Exquisite corpse. This method introduces random bits of serendipity into writing, poetry and even artwork. You may have even played a variation on it at a party.

It works like this. Everyone starts with a big sheet of paper, writing down the first line of a story or poem. The line doesn’t have to be finished, and it doesn’t have to be brilliant. It just has to be there, and the more quickly you can write this, the better. The sheet of paper is then passed to the right, where the next person writes something to follow it. The sheet of paper is then folded backwards so that only the most recent line is visible. The paper is passed, and another line is written. At some point, everyone is alerted that they will be writing the last line. Once that is done, the masterpieces are read out loud. It’s a funny thing, too, because the resulting works can be funny, deep or bizarre but they are almost always good in some way. The collective consciousness knows what it’s doing. The instinctual line is often best.

These little corpses can then provide inspiration for entire works. The visual version folds over the paper and only leaves a few lines extending for the next person to work from. Sometimes the game specifies that an anthropomorphic figure is being drawn, sometimes it doesn’t.

I’ll leave you with another party variation. It’s called Eat Poop You Cat and it’s played like this: The first line is a phrase or sentence, sometimes well-known, sometimes not. The next person does a drawing or pictogram of the sentence and folds. The following person writes down what they thought the sentence was from the drawing, and so on. It ends with words. The results are read aloud with the displayed pictures so that it can be seen whether any of the original phrases remained intact. They often don’t. I encourage you to try these games. It’ll stimulate your creativity, and it’s a whole lot of fun with a few sheets of paper.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

176. Next time you’ve got a group of people together, try one of these games. No artistic or writing ability is needed. You may be impressed with the results.

Links, should you desire them:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exquisite_corpse

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eat_Poop_You_Cat

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