Monday, November 9, 2015

Are You a Fan of Wordplay?



Do you believe that word-ly fun stretches writing skills? I do. Word games, activities, writing prompts, freewriting, etc. can engage our minds and offer fresh angles and inspiration.

To illustrate, here are a few of my favorites:


Bricolage 
 
Bricolage means "odd jobs" in French, and for this activity is interpreted as using what's on hand. Set the timer for 2 minutes (or more or less) and take a common item, such as a marble, bobby pin, paper clip, or raindrop and consider how it could be used to improvise.


Can the bobby pin open a padlock and help someone escape? Would the marble offer entertainment to an ailing child? Might the paper clip be rigged to repair a faulty engine, one that's needed to rescue lost travelers? One raindrop might be the catalyst that ended a drought.


You never know where Bricolage might take you, whether in problem solving or a "fly on the wall" type narrative.


Board Games
 
Old favorites include Taboo and Balderdash. They require creativity and interaction with others, sure to help you think fast on your feet. Anyone remember Password? Taboo is similar, making you skirt around certain words while making your partner guess the correct one. Balderdash's options offer tale spinning opportunities, just the thing to trigger the imagination. 


 Hemingway's Challenge
 
I know I've mentioned this one before, but it's another excellent choice. In case you aren't familiar with it, Hemingway was asked to write a six word story. This is what he wrote: 


For sale, baby shoes. Never used. 
 
How's that for practicing word economy? 



I've a guest post up at the Helping Hands blog. If you have a moment, hop over and check it out! Thanks a bunch! :) 


What do you do to get your writing in gear? What are your favorite word-ly activities?

Happy writing,

Karen

Photo credit: Free Images

21 comments :

  1. I think word and board games sounds so much fun and some can help your vocabulary grow. I just don't sit down to do them.

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  2. I'm a huge Hemingway fan because the emotion behind his scarce words and phrases are so attractive. What happened to the baby!!! is what I wanted to know the first time I read that line.

    Word games, love them. Love exercising the old brain in a fun and productive way.

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  3. I have several word games I play on my iPad, like Muddled. Plus I do a crossword puzzle every day.

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  4. I play Word Solitaire and Scrabble every morning to kick-start my mind.

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  5. Hi Karen! It sounds like Bricolage is a lot like being McGyver! I like crosswords, and do one a day, but I don't know if that really helps with my word power. Hopefully it will keep my mind somewhat sharp though. Reading is the best thing I do to be open to new phrases and word meanings. It's very humbling too!
    Love that Hemingway piece. Brilliant!
    Blessings,
    Ceil

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  6. I could read that Hemminway line over and over again! I have never heard of Bricolage. I may have to introduce that one to my writing group! Thank you.

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  7. The Bricolage sounds interesting and fun.

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  8. Hi Karen - I do enjoy word games and I love learning new words and relating back words to their etymological beginnings. The wikipedia entry for bricolage .. brings up wonder ideas .. the comb and wax paper for humming through ... we did that when we were kids ... but used the old 'hard' loo paper!!

    Fun post - thanks .. cheers Hilary

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  9. Write about isolated things. What a great idea, Karen. Thanks for all these great ideas. I'll have to use some of them in my writers group as well. Walking in the woods or just outside usually gets my mind moving. Always loved the Hemingway story. Much can be said in a few, well-chosen words. Thanks again for sharing this.

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  10. Natalie,
    I hear you. It's hard to have the time to get to everything. Hope you enjoy some down time soon! :)

    Joylene,
    I've often wondered about the baby too! Makes me wonder if he did it just to get people guessing. Or the shoes were for a baby who outgrew them before they got a chance to wear them. :)

    Alex,
    I'm thinking that counts to get you thinking, right? I think engaging our minds is the key, and having fun on the way is a bonus. :)

    Diane,
    That's a great way to start your day! I'm guessing you have coffee or tea as well to help the process along. :)

    Ceil,
    I've always thought about Bricolage that way too! :) I would think that crosswords are a good thing to keep your mind and writing sharp. And reading too, of course!

    Lynn,
    That story really does make you think, doesn't it? I have often wondered about it. Hope you enjoy playing the game with your group! :)

    Holly,
    I agree! I like to use it with my writing students. It's always fun to see what they come up with!

    Hilary,
    I hadn't thought to check wikipedia! I had seen it years ago in a writing course and loved the idea, and the potential within. We used wax paper for all sorts of things when we were kids - including with the comb, and also for making our metal slide in the backyard more slippery. :)

    Victoria,
    I can't take the credit; I saw Bricolage in a writing course years ago. Thought it was a great idea! :) Well chosen words - that's the key for most any writing, isn't it? Hope you enjoy using the ideas!

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  11. I really like the Bricolage idea--like others mentioned, it could be a great warm up, but it could also help you move forward a stuck scene. Take an object or objects in the room with your character and imagine how s/he would use it to propel the story.

    We play Boggle and Scrabble a fair amount, but those don't stretch the imagination quite like Balderdash does--they're more the skill set of seeing patterns. Some of my scientific friends are scary-good at Scrabble but couldn't write even a haiku if their life depended on it.

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  12. I'm hooked on crossword puzzles -- especially the New York Times crossword. (i can usually do up till Wednesday, and then I struggle, by Saturday, I give up. But I like the challenge. Sometimes to jumpstart my writing, though, I make lists: different shades of red, blue, etc.; shades of hair color, descriptions of hairdos, descriptions of clouds. I keep these lists in a folder to refer to later. They really come in handy.

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  13. One of my favorite games with word play is "What if." Seriously. Creativity in a nutshell.

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  14. Laurel,
    Your ideas are great! Bricolage appeals to me in a number of ways too. There's just so much potential there. :) It's interesting to see what stretches different people. :)

    Elizabeth,
    A challenge can be a good thing, right? I too, am a list person - there is much potential for writing and sorting ideas and more. :) Keeping them in a folder is a good idea, I need to do that. Thanks for the tip!

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  15. Crystal,
    Yes, now here's another wonderful idea! It is creativity in a nutshell. And it's portable too! :)
    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  16. I LOVE Balderdash! And I'd never heard of Bricolage. It sounds like fun. We also like Boggle.

    Thanks for these ideas!

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  17. I haven't tried any of these as writing techniques- but I love the game Balderdash. Some great ideas to try. :) Thanks for sharing!
    ~Jess

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  18. Jen,
    Our family has always enjoyed Balderdash too. Maybe one of these days you can try Bricolage! :)

    Jess,
    Balderdash is fun, isn't it? Let me know if you try any of these - I'll be curious to see how you like them! :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  19. Never heard of Bricolage, but the other two are faves. :)

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  20. Lisa,
    You'll have to let me know if you give it a try! :)
    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  21. These sound like fun. They also give the brain a workout.

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your input. Have a blessed day!