Unblocking Writer’s Block is in the Cards
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|This post has been submitted by Webcomics.com Member, Jules Faulkner, creator of Promises, Promises.|
For the last few months, I’ve been struggling with a big ol’ case of Writers’ Block. Not making excuses, just having a hard time shaking it off, so I signed up for a humour writing class in hopes of getting my groove back. There wasn’t a lot of new information offered, but there were some old exercises that turned out to be just the ticket.
My instructor posted a dozen simple ideas: “Rowing down the Amazon, getting ready for the prom, my teacher’s tap shoes”, etc. The objective was to write one or two sentences for each one and/or mix and match them to see what you can come up with.
“My, rowing down the Amazon safari is being disrupted by my teacher’s tap shoes. The noise scares the interesting wildlife away and large predators are attracted to the shiny objects.”
Easy-peasy and gets the brain-juice rolling on to more productive writing. Great! But what do I do when I run out of topics; come up with more? If I could do that at the moment, I wouldn’t need them.
As luck would have it, I found a box of old board games in the basement. BINGO! Stacks of cards loaded with completely impartial ideas to build on. So far, Apples to Apples has been the most useful. If you’re unfamiliar with the game, it’s the same idea as Cards Against Humanity, but with a more all-ages leaning. The red cards are nouns and the green are adjectives. I like to deal out eight to start with and there are two methods I’ve found most effective:
1) Single adjective, seven nouns.
In this draw, the first combo that jumps out at me is Chunky Gang Members.
- More like drive thru than drive by
- Finally, a fair fight for chunky food court security
- Not even Titanium hydraulics could make a car full of these guys bounce
- Just rollin’ with my hoagies
Or I could go with more of an Al Capone style gangster/gang member:
- Don of the Deli
- Dunkin’ Don
- Mobster Newburg
- Missing witnesses are what really goes into Big Macs
- What? Pinstripes are supposed to bow
- Probably tough to get delivery to Alcatraz
I could go on. (Chunky Jodie Foster in, Silence of the Hams!)
2) Seven Adjectives, Seven nouns – Free for all!
In this case, it’s actually two of the adjectives that first caught my eye: Chunky and Charming. Like if Prince Charming really let himself go. Too fat for his horse, can’t climb the tower to get to the princess, only goes to the ball for the buffet, even the dragon won’t eat him because he’s watching his dragon cholesterol… maybe he’s afraid of an internal grease fire.
Arrogant Junk Mail makes me think of those fliers people put on your windshield. You must really think a lot of your lawn mowing to risk me catching you touching my car.
Addictive Junk Mail – I think that’s called “extreme couponing”, these days.
Cosmopolitan Hangnails – why not? I’ve seen more ridiculous trends in fashion. Maybe get them bedazzled… Oh, hangnail piercing! Now that’s something I could dovetail into a story for one of my characters, (if it’s in a women’s magazine, she’d probably try it).
Trivial Pursuit is also great for this kind of exercise, particularly if you don’t know the answer.
“Who was the sixteenth Grand Poobah of North Zanzabar?”
Roy! And his third wife, Urilla was the first Lady Poobah. I bet he had a mustache, wore bolo ties and a really big belt buckle with a chunk of petrified mango peel mounted in the center.
Once you get going, it’s hard to stop. So pillage your parents’ basements for the old games; there’s comedy gold in them thar boxes! And if your Mum threw them out with your old Star Wars figures, go check out the consignment shops. There’s usually a bunch of games, super cheap and who cares if there are pieces missing?