This article is part four of a series about starting your own creative writing group/club. Part one is here. Topics will include giving constructive criticism, running a workshop, and writing games/prompts.
I found that the best way to start a group meeting is a fun game.
Here are my general rules for writing games/prompts:
- Encourage everyone to share their writing, but no one ever has to share. This creates an environment where people feel comfortable. The important thing is doing the exercise. If they decide to share, they must read their prompt aloud so everyone knows what it was.
- Set a time limit. I would generally give everyone five to ten minutes per round to write, and then I would open up for sharing. Once everyone had the opportunity to read their work, I would start another round or move on. This also encouraged people to share. After all, no story is good after five minutes.
- No one ever has to keep their prompt. You’ll notice that all of these games include pulling prompts randomly out of a basket. If someone gets something and they don’t like it, they’re allowed to put it back and pick something else.
I created these games for a teen writing group. However, they’re still fun and can easily be played by adults. I encourage you to try them, and tell me how it goes!
- The Inanimate Perspective
My teens loved this one. Write down some nouns on slips of papers and put them in a basket for people to randomly pick out. Write a description or a story from the perspective of the inanimate object, and everyone else will try and guess what your noun was. Your goal is to try to trick your listeners but still give them all the information they need in order to guess.
Here are some nouns to get you started: rug, clock, ocean, laptop, rubber band, pencil, applesauce, printer, TV, photograph, bookmark, credit card, comic book, water bottle, tape, playing cards, headphones, bed, trash can, shoes, seed, calculator, blender.
- Create a Villian
Write down adjectives on slips of papers and put them in a basket for people to randomly pick out. Pick two adjectives and describe or write a story about a villain that matches those adjectives. You can put back your adjectives, but you must put back both, and pick two new ones.
Here are some adjectives to get you started: pensive, onerous, arrogant, quiet, sneaky, classy, fumbling, disillusioned, determined, mature, chilly, cautious, tough, nervous, meek, grateful, dull, dysfunctional, selfish, proud, smart, ashamed, self-righteous, sulky, squeamish, weary, delicate, discreet, tactful, silent, outgoing, somber, cowardly, ambitious, elitist, whimsical, cheerful, noisy, lazy.
- Occupation Meet Setting
For this game, you’ll need two baskets. One for various occupations and one for various settings. Pick one from each basket to write a story about a person with that occupation in that setting. You can put back your prompts, but you must put back both and pick two new ones.
Some occupations and settings to get you started: doctor/nurse, princess/prince, baker/chef, lawyer, journalist, student, tour guide, server, writer, farmer, secretary, homemaker, scientist, musician, photographer, cave, forest, asylum, desert, airport, cemetery, cottage, library, castle, restaurant, boat/yacht, classroom, office, car, hotel, church.
- Photo Character
This is my favorite game. Get a bunch of pictures of people from the internet. There are several places to do this. Mix in pictures of people doing everyday things with people wearing bizarre costumes or doing bizarre things. Print them out and put them in a basket for people to randomly pick out. Write a story about the person or one of the people in the photo. It’s an exercise in character development that garners some pretty funny and unique results.