This post forms part of a serialisation eventually building into a complete reference on Journaling for Creativity and the writer's notebook. One that will demonstrate how to journal in order to improve creativity and effectiveness of artists, writers or anyone needing to be creative.
A fun little game to get your creative juices flowing. It can be played in your creativity journal as a single exercise or in parts, spread across any available moments.
All you have to do is complete a starter sentence for an unwritten story in as many different ways as possible, that’s all.
How to play
To start, you need to either select the first few words from the opening sentence from a novel or short story, or make up one of your own, and pop it into your journal.
For example, from Emily Brontë’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, the opening sentence is;
“I have just returned from a visit to my landlord—the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with.”
Now just take the opening words of that sentence, in this case
“I have just returned…”
and start adding your own endings. Forming ten should be straightforward, thirty should be a challenge, fifty might mean that you are just making sentences and not opening sentences. For example;
“I have just returned from washing my hands.”
This is just a boring sentence, whereas,
“I have just returned from washing the blood from my hands.”
is far more interesting.
Having said that, as you play the game do not worry unduly about making every one a gem. If you have a sentence in your mind but it is not a good one, don’t fret, just write it down and move on to the next one. As you play you will probably find that you stall after the initial few “easy” ones and the next are harder to bring forth. However, persevere and you will start to find more inspiration, a ‘second wind’ so to speak.
Once you have completely run out of ideas, return to the start and review each of the sentences. See if you can make any improvements. By the time you return, some of them you might discard, some can’t be helped, whilst others will have obvious improvement potential. This is normal, since as you play the game your creative-mind becomes increasingly active, making it easier for you to find associations.
Neat tip: The next time you are in a bookshop or library, remember to rummage in a few novels and copy their opening lines into your creativity journal, so that you can play with them later.
Further variants of the game are;
Replacing the middles, for example our selected sentence gives, “I have just… …be troubled with.” To which we could add;
“I have just sold the family cow for three magic beans – it’s not poverty I will be troubled with.”
Or replacing the start. Again, using our selected sentence, “…be troubled with.” Which might become;
“A man with a sword was reflected in the dragon’s eye, my reflection, and I was not something it wanted to be troubled with.”
The purpose of the game
This game exercises your creative-mind and encourages the passing of information between the logical-mind and the creative-mind. Being completely a word game it predominantly uses the left hand side of the brain, the logical-mind, the language side. However, when you start to seek more and more associations for the same root phrase, once the logical-mind has exhausted its ‘logical’ options, it is forced to call on the creative-mind. This is where the ‘second wind’ comes from and by forcing this exchange you begin to train your logical-mind and creative-mind to co-operate.
The game also trains the writer in writing a catchy first sentence for their book, one that hopefully will draw the reader and make them desire to read your novel.
Do you have a suitable starter? Or maybe a really tricky one? Share it with us in the comments area below for everyone to have a play with.
Photo credit: Anxious Athlete Waiting at Starting Line, by CS productions.
"Journaling word games: A starter for…" by Andy Shackcloth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.