There are many popular creative writing exercises, but my favorite is the use of random words in a story.

The exercise is thus:

  • Pick a number from 1-20. We'll use 3 in this example.
  • Open a dictionary to a random page, and use the third word on that page. Do this until you have 10 unique words
  • Use the list of words, in the order that they were selected, in a story.

Using everything2 as your source of words, instead of a dictionary, will result a much wider variety of interesting topics. Below are the results that "random node" gave me:

Sometimes you'll get nodes that are really out of place to the story you want to write, RFC 3091 in this case. The challenge is to change the story to suit the words and make them seem natural. Just feel lucky that your list didn't include popemobile and dermotillomania like one of mine did! Here's a very short story I came up with using these words.

Andrea walked through her living room and glanced to see what was on the television. Her father was watching an American Football game, the Titans were playing the Eagles, or was it the Falcons? She couldn't remember which of the birds of prey it was.

She asked her father again if to reconsider his firm stance about her going on the skiing trip with her friends. “Please, papa, please?”. Her father became frustrated with the girl's begging and sent her to her room.

Andrea hated her room. It was too small and didn't have any of the modern comforts all the other girls in her school had; no computers, television, not even a telephone. She laid on the bed and began to daydream. She fantasized about going on the trip with her friends. Her boyfriend Esteban would be there. Looking for something to get her mind off of the trip, she impatiently paced the room. Being stuck there, she felt like princess Draupadi of Indian mythology, banished to the Kamyaka forest, waiting, wanting to see the outside world once again.

How could her father do this to her? She thought about making a videomaton of her situation, to show the public how cruel her father was. Maybe public outrage would change her father's mind, but she doubted it.

She thought of freedom, sailing in the open waters of the mediterranian sea, and shipboard love making sessions guided by the light of the moon. She pictured princess Draupadi moping about in the forest, when her knight in shining armor came to her rescue, uncolted and defended her honor against her persecutor. Her anger grew, and she throught about her father meeting an untimely end. A well placed knife during the middle of the night would immaterialize her father. She couldn't do that through, the wake would be too messy.

She left the confines of her room to pay a visit to her mother. Her mother was a college professor of mathematics at Universidad de Barcelona. She would be of no help today though, she was on the phone with a colleague, rambling something about RFC 3091. Andrea's mother could be on the phone for hours.

Andrea decided to pack her suitcase. She climbed out the window and took the railway to her Esteban. “Come on, we're going skiing.”.