A collaborative writing task.

So, the traditional image of the writer hunched over a solitary desk, or keyboard, is what most of us believe in, isn’t it?

For the most part, it’s a fair description.  The words…no the idea, is in my head, and I need to translate it into a readable form.  It will be a good story, maybe even great, one day.  It’s mine.  I’ll sweat every word out onto the page, the right ones and the wrongs, dragging them from the nearest and farthest corners of my brain.

If you’ve read some of my other blog posts, you might have begun to recognise my ‘written-voice’.  The way we record our ideas is idiosyncratic.  The vocabulary we use is filtered through the mesh of experiences that are our past, as well as our imaginations.

So sometimes it’s interesting to see how collaboration affects our thinking.  Sharing ideas has been happening in screen and script-writing for a long time.  Check out soap-operas, sit-coms and films to see the benefits of working with a script team.  Even if they’re not your usual choice of entertainment, it’s worth tuning in occasionally and thinking about how the plot developments, characterisation, and dialogue work.

krimmel_villagetavernThe principle is similar to the old parlour game, Fortunately/Unfortunately.  You know how it works, a first line is set, for instance: ‘It was a dark and stormy night…‘  Someone finishes the sentence, then the next person adds a sentence to continue the story that begins, ‘Fortunately…‘  The person after that adds another sentence beginning with ‘Unfortunately…‘ and so it goes on.

The results can be bizarre.  That depends on the participants and their intentions.

Set this up with an agreed cast list, setting and situation, and there is the potential for the working out of a challenging storyline.  Fortunately/Unfortunately is a simplistic model for a story, but this exercise is not about the writing, it is a limbering up of the imagination and an opportunity to practice some lateral thinking.  Now that’s something you don’t find easily.



*Painting, A Tavern, by John Lewis Krimmel (1787-1821)

6 thoughts on “A collaborative writing task.

  1. I used to enjoy playing a similar game as a child – Consequences. You could play with two or more people and would involved writing down alternating sentences – from what I remember it went: Boy’s name, girl’s name, where they met, he said, she said, he did, she did and finally the consequence. It was bizarre and often hilarious – I might have to rope in a few friends to play it again, in fact 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ooh, down memory lane. I remember fortunately/unfortunately as well as consequences and a simple then she said/he said. Good fun. I’ve never collaborated in my writing, I have enough problems with the cuckoo sitting on my shoulder rejecting and ejecting all my bons mots. However I have a friend who is an absolute wizard at thinking up names for characters, imaginary “things” and so on. He’s also very good, when I’m stuck with my plot, at suggesting ways forward. I don’t always agree with him but it usually gets me back on track.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lucky you to have someone who can brainstorm with you.
    The trick with playing any of those old games was speed, no time to judge any of the suggestions, just follow them. All of those cuckoos are banished for the duration.


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