Tag Archives: word prompts

Random Words?

5 Apr

Back in the Dark Ages…

Word prompts

We met in the upstairs eating area, above the deli at our local upscale grocery store. It was quiet, there was always ample table space, and the deli had really nice sandwiches. It was Artist Group back then. We met whenever – sometimes every week – and brought whatever we wanted to show off. Nobody took it too seriously and we made great stuff. That’s when we started with the word prompts.

I always seemed to be the one to write down the words, as we went around the table. One by one, we built a pool of words and phrases; a schizophrenic shopping list, maybe.

The list went on until it was full. And then we voted – on as many as we liked, or whatever struck our fancy. In the end, out of a dozen or so words, we were left with a few clear winners. The top three or four, which would become our ‘prompts’ for the week, always helped me focus. It became a good game, to exercise my creative muscles. “How the hell do I make a story out of this nonsense?”

  • Molotov
  • Scotch
  • Belly-dance
  • Betrayal
  • Mini-mart

Sometimes, we’d end up with only ONE word that we all agreed on. That word would be the “lead” focus in whatever we did. The second place words would be “supporting” concepts. It was a nice arrangement.

  • NEUROTIC
    Disaster
    Astronauts
    Shakespeare
    Photograph

And then there was the time we decided to “randomly” clip together the elements of a short story. We set out five categories across the top as rows: Start/End/Action/Character/Place. We made as many entries as there were writers – six in this case. Six different places to start a story, and end one. Six disparate actions, character types, and odd settings. I ripped the paper into pieces and then we each literally drew them from a hat, one category at a time. It was brilliant. I still remember what I ended up with:

  • Start: A drug deal
  • End: A skating rink
  • Action: A fight
  • Character: An elephant
  • Place: A diner

And, of course, they often times just helped us pull together our thoughts. Sometimes, that’s all I need – a framework to hang my imagination upon. We’re still at it, by the way. Maybe not every week, but as often as we can. In twos and threes, sometimes more, we work our craft the best way we can.

  • Streetlight
  • Garbage
  • Vengeance
  • Vulgar

There probably isn’t a wrong way to do it, but I imagine there is a HUGE variety. How do other ‘groups’ do it? Does your little cabal of artists roll the dice like we do? Do you use an online random word generator? Put your ipod on shuffle? Flip through the dictionary? Please let us know! If you tell us how and why, we’ll do it at our next writers group. Promise!

-Patrick

(and you can click ‘Continue Reading’ if you want to see more of the ‘word prompts’ we’ve used)

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