As well as the religious significance of the festival, Christmas is a time for present giving and receiving, drinking and eating, friends and family, hearty walks and slumping in front of the TV. Yes it can all get a bit much, especially for writerly types who find everything going on around them too distracting to be able to settle down and just write. And it gets worse when the new presents start to pall (or break), the over -indulgence takes its toll on your digestive system, and all around you show every sign of getting really, really fed up with each other.
Pens to the rescue! Why not push aside the meal left overs, and gather everybody round the table for a few word based games. Never mind they say they can’t write, hate parlour games, wish you’d go and take a running jump at yourself … With a bit of coaxing grannies and grandchildren, friends and nearly new foes, will be prepared to have a go. It will be a bit different and – who knows – they may end up enjoying themselves. Any number can join in. Even if you’re on your own, you can still make it work for one. All you need is a pen and a sheet of paper.
Game number one: First Sentence / Last Sentence. Everybody writes two, preferably short, unrelated sentences down on their piece of paper and passes it to the person on their left. That person then has ten minutes to write a story that links the first sentence to the last – the more fantastical the better! Everybody then reads aloud the story they have made up and if you so wish you can decide on a winner and a reward.
Game number two: Ten word story. Choose a word, maybe Christmas or winter related (e.g. Snowflake, Present, Carol …). Set the timer for five minutes and write a story in TEN words that includes the chosen word. Read the stories aloud – it can be amazing how different each story will be.
Game number three: Brilliant first lines. Everyone knows that the best books grab your attention from the start. Just think of “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen” from the beginning of George Orwell’s 1984. Set the timer for ten minutes and write as many attention grabbing opening lines as you can think of. Read them out when everyone has finished and choose the best. (As a bonus, a great first line could be the start of your next novel – once you have time to devout to ‘proper’ writing again.
This will be my last post for a week or so. I hope you all have a great Christmas and New Year.
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