Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"Weird Crap"...A Chain Story


One thing I do occasionally in the classroom is chain writing, which asks different writers to write different sentences, or paragraphs, one after another. There are variations to the activity, like, for example, doing it blind, which means everyone has a number on one side of the paper, and then they write the sentence or paragraph on the other side. After all the sentences/paragraphs have been written, you use the numbers to put everything together (it's "blind" because you write your part without knowing anything else that has been written). It's a cool activity, and the students usually enjoy it. 

So that explains what a chain story is. Now let me explain the "weird crap" part.

A while back, a critique partner of mine read something I had written, and he commented that it seemed like I was writing what someone else wanted me to write, not what I enjoyed writing, and not what I was "great" at. He commented, "You do well with high-concept MG, and you're great writing about weird crap. So why this?" I laughed out loud, because I knew the dude was right. Not only was the project a forced pile of dung, but he was also right because the crap I write is rather weird, and I have fun with that sort of thing.

So here is what I want to do. Let's take the weird crap idea and throw it in a bowl with the chain story process, and then let's flush it all out and see what we get. In other words, let's write a chain story...and hope it doesn't end up falling in line with the aforementioned metaphor. I'll start the story below, and volunteer writers (you) will continue the story in the comments section. Here's the process.

1) Read the opening below to get a feel for tone, POV, characters, etc.
2) Where I left off, comment number 1 will write the next paragraph in the story.
3) The next comment will include the paragraph after that.
4) Next comment, next paragraph. 
5) When I see that the chain story has gone as far as it will go (no more paragraphs/comments for a couple days) I will combine everything and post the final product at a later date.

You game? Come on, let's have some fun.

"Weird Crap" OPENING 

Spill Joseph had always thought of himself as a stand-up kinda guy. A good friend. A pal. A dude. A bro. That’s how he saw himself, even after he’d been forced to tell his parents who had tied Kitt’s tail to the ceiling fan and flicked the “super speed” switch. Nick Gname, for the record, had done the tail tying and cat hanging. Sam Chowder, the switch flicking. As he had explained to his parents, Spill had just been “…in the room, like, coincidentally. You know, just hangin’ out. Chillin’. That kinda thing.”

It wasn’t until Oracle, his pet parrot, started chanting, “Rat! Ahhh! Rat! Ahhh! Rat! Ahhh!” that Spill realized what he’d done. That’s when reality hit Spill like a three-hundred-pound linebacker.

The reality was, when he went to school the next day and all his classmates, including Nick and Sam, knew he’d ratted out his two best friends, well, that’s when the Kitt was gonna hit the fan. Again.

To be continued...by you!

Okay, go at it. New comment, new paragraph.

20 comments:

  1. Tammy Barber7/26/12, 11:10 AM

    Wow, my brain must be shot this week! I can't think of anything good to continue this story with, though I do want to know about our friend Spill!

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    1. That's ok. I understand. Thanks for responding, though.

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  2. In fact, the Kitt, and the fan for that matter, might not be the only things getting hit. Spill was confident, certain even, that Nick, or Sam, or Nick and Sam, would probably corner him outside, and a circle of kids chanting "fight," would gather faster than a fan spinning at "super speed."

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    1. Awesome addition. Totally falls in line with the beginning. Thanks for playing, Matt.

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  3. How could he waylay such an event? Play sick, fall to the ground moaning? No, they wouldn’t buy that, but taking his punishment like a man didn’t seem like a wise option either. After all, he liked breathing too much.

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    1. And an awesome followup to Matt's paragraph. Thanks, Hil.

      I know it is putting yourself out there, so I understand hesitancy, but yours and Matt's paragraphs show how fun the activity is...imagine how cool it is with 8th graders.

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    2. I'm sure it's an absolute blast.

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  4. All night poor Spill thought and thought. He paced his room. He turned the ceiling fan on, then off again. It didn't help. Finally, at two in the morning, just as he managed to close his eyes to sleep, he had it. No need for playing sick, nor getting his butt kicked either. It would be easy... that is if he could play the part convincingly.

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  5. Nice. Now we need someone to hop in there and tell us what part he is going to play. Thanks, Connie.

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  6. The next morning, he carefully applied the junk to his neck: a thin layer of tacky glue, some awful, yellow eye-makeup and concealer he stole from his drama queen sister's room, and a squirt of fake blood he'd found in the basement. He smudged it around until it looked just right, all gory and awesome. Spill admired his handiwork in the mirror for a while.

    Total zombie bite.

    He carefully covered it up with a black turtleneck his gram had bought him last year. Like that wouldn't be noticed in April!

    His mom called out Breakfast's ready, and he grinned all the way downstairs.

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    1. Susan, great addition. Love it! Thanks a bunch.

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  7. There were only two reasons to wear a turtleneck, and Spill was counting on his mom not wanting to embarrass either of them by asking if he had a hickey or if he'd been invited to a poetry reading. But when she glanced up from the pan of scrambled eggs and her lips started to part, Spill said, "It's for school. I'm giving a report on Steve Jobs. We get extra credit for dressing like our topic."

    Mom dropped him off at Cadbury Academy for the Overprotected twenty minutes later. Sam and Nick were waiting for him by the monkey bar dome, which Spill always thought looked like a futuristic prison cell. They wore camouflage. Spill saw them anyway. Well, time for the show.

    Spill moaned in the deepest, most guttural way he could and tore at his turtleneck as if it were choking him (which it was, of course). He ripped it over his head and snapped into zombie mode. Dragging his left leg behind him, he lurched across the blacktop. A kindergarten girl screeched as Spill lunged for her. Spill growled and allowed a thin line of drool to slip from his mouth as he advanced toward Nick and Sam. Little kids scattered out of his way, terrified.

    A whistle blew. Mrs. Tuntruck had spotted him. Crap.

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    1. LOL! #awesome Love the Steve Jobs reference. :)

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    2. PMM, another great addition. Steve Jobs, zombies, and a teacher named Tuntruck? Can't go wrong with that. Thanks.

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  8. Mrs. Turntruck looked much the way you'd expect her to. Big, blocky and determined. She thumped towards Spill with a look on her face that suggested it would've been better off to take what he had coming to him from Sam and Nick. He moaned and it came out sounding strange. Deep. Guttural. Like a real zombie. What happened next wasn't exactly what Spill thought was going to happen.

    Turntruck turned and trucked, grabbing up the little girl by the waist of her pants and screaming "ZOMBIE!"

    Now Spill had no idea that Mrs. Turntruck had just read the hot novel about the zombie apocalypse. He had no idea that Turntruck had a "thing" about zombies. And when the school resource officer came charging out of the building, he moaned again. This wasn't the way this was supposed to go.

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  9. A twist I didn't see coming. Good stuff. Thanks, Z.

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  10. I love where this story has gone!

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    1. Me too. Thanks everyone for contributing, and more are welcome to keep it going.

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  11. Comments closed, story is final. Posting final story in separate post now. Thanks for playing, everyone.

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Thanks for adding to the mayhem!