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Some Fun Wordplay and Literary Games

The creative writing workshop courses I took throughout grad school offered many valuable lessons and techniques to use as a writer, some of which encouraged playing around with words to generate new ideas. Freewriting, or the act of writing whatever comes to mind for a set amount of time, was one such game–but there were several others that are fun to do either alone or with other people.

Here are four examples:

1) Word Association–Start with any word, such as “Jam,” and then write a word (it can be a noun, verb, or adjective) that you associate with Jam beside it, such as “Jam Jelly.” Do the same thing with the second word, and so on, for as long as you like to go, and enjoy the gradual progression of ideas. For example, “Jam Jelly Jar Cookies Chocolate Delicious Strawberries Seeds . . .” You might be surprised where you end up.

2) Word Dissociation–This game is exactly like the word association above, except that every word you choose must be what you think is the further thing possible from, or most unrelated, thing to the word that came before. For example, “Jam Pickles Sweet Salty Puppies . . .”

3) Leapfrog Sentences–Take a piece of paper and write a sentence at the very top. Fold the paper just enough to hide the first sentence, and then start another sentence that begins with the last word you wrote.

For example: “Jeremy ate an apple.” <–First sentence

“‘Apple’ is the name of my dog.” <–Second sentence

As with the first sentence, fold the paper to hide the second sentence, before continuing the process again, and again–until you reach the bottom of the paper. Then unfold the sheet, read through, and enjoy the page of text that you have written.

4) Question-and-Answer Exchange–This game is the most ambitious of the four choices, since it requires at least two or more people to participate as distinct groups, which don’t interact with each other until the final part. Each member of Group One, for instance, will come up with a random question that starts with the word “Why” (the sillier, the better), while each member of Group Two will come up with a random answer, beginning with the word, “Because.” Both teams will decide who will go first, second, etc.

Once both groups are ready, the first selected member of Group One will read off her or his question, while the first selected member of Group Two will read her is his response. (Note: This game works particularly well in classroom settings, where the teacher can divide up the students.)

Example: Question: “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

Answer: “Because I said so.”

I hope you find these word games helpful and enjoyable–and happy writing!

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