Have you ever played a writing game with a group? I hadn’t tried this particular exercise before, but I had a great deal of fun with it. The premise is simple:
- Start with a minimum of three people.
- Each person selects an image (google searches or tumblr feeds or personal caches of funky images suffice).
- Everyone passes their selected image (somewhat secretively) to the left. Looking at the image you’ve been assigned, write a caption. Get creative, funny, dark, or a combination of the three. Then pass your caption, again to the left.
- Caption in hand for an image you have not seen, write a piece of flash fiction inspired by that caption. Set a time limit of 5, 10, or 15 minutes. Whatever tickles your fancy.
- Read your flash fiction aloud with the original image on display. Sometimes your story will be eerily close to that image, and sometimes it will seem to have no connection at all.
Here’s an example of my two stories from the evening. Wildly different. Tons of fun to recklessly cast upon the page.
CAPTION: The diminutive minstrel’s smirk held the secrets of his nefarious plots.
The diminutive minstrel’s smirks held the secrets of his nefarious plots. For he did not smile often, and never openly. The joy of others prompted the most sour and dour of expressions on his overlarge features. Tragedy and ecstasy made him yawn. The only time a small, unsightly curve could be found on those chapped lips, death was always, always near. It was his instruments that gave him away to the bounty hunters, in the end. The morning after he patrolled the village streets, whining out a smiling tune upon his violin, a girl was found seated as though sleeping in the shadows of a tavern door. But she was not sleeping. And a cruel red line ran round her slender neck. One sultry summer evening, the minstrel laughed and marched to his own rhythm as he beat merrily with sticks on a ragged tin cup. Then the cup was gone and he beat on the villagers’ doors and fence posts as he passed by. The next day, the village drunk was found. It was well known he’d cheated the minstrel at a game of cards. He held those cards now, along with his heart, nestled squishily in the bottom of a ragged tin cup.
CAPTION: A highlight of perhaps the most ambitious staging of Wagner outside his native Germany…
“Attention! Pay attention, please! Strings, I need you in your seats and warming up. This atmosphere is going to wreak havoc with our tuning and the piano was too heavy for lift-off, so I’m relying on you to set our Middle C. Percussion! No wild riffing at the moment, if you please. It is difficult enough as it is for everyone to hear me with this blast little moon’s horizon being only a few yards off. If we’d packed one more tuba onto this god-forsaken rock, I’m sure we’d be waist deep in a pile of rubble. Brass, remember, elbows up, instruments high and steady. I don’t care if the artificial gravity has your arms ready to drop from their sockets. I will not see Wagner butchered by piss-poor posture!
“Now, keep in mind everyone, the cameras are picking us up from Saturn, as always, but our rotation is quite fast: what – about sixty-four, no sixty-eight, that’s right – over sixty-eight revolutions per minute. So, you just never do know when you’re right in the center of the shot! If you pass out, do try to fall out of sight. And for God’s sake, trumpets, DON’T clear your spit valves until we’ve gotten the off-the-air signal from Studio Headquarters! If we offend one more Marian royal, they’re bound to sack us, for sure.
“There’s the cue! Give us that middle c, strings. Got it? Very good. Here comes the spin, silence everyone, eyes on me, and…”