Monthly Archives: February 2013

Kickstart a Writing Prompt (That’s Also a Cool-Looking Card Game)

On the heels of my last post about using the game Man Bites Dog as a tool for writers comes this: Machine of Death: The Game of Creative Assassination.  If you read many webcomics, you’ve probably run across Wondermark, by David Malki! once or twice; you may even read it regularly.  You may also have heard about the anthology Machine of Death, which topped the Amazon charts a couple of years ago.  It’s a collection of stories based around the idea of a machine that can accurately predict your death but often has a twisted sense of humor–you might, for instance, get the prediction “Free Falling” and attempt to cheat the machine by never again flying, only to be trampled to death by concert-goers during Tom Petty’s classic.

Sample picture of what you get with the physical copy of the game [via Kickstarter]

I could try to tell you all about the game that’s being made based on this premise, but I’ve never played the thing, so I’ll let the game’s creators, who have actually played the game, tell you more (I was trying to embed the video, but after working for half an hour, I’ve decided that it’s just not worth it–WordPress.com, take note).

The game has already funded at this point, so there’s no risk of being disappointed that the thing doesn’t fund.  Just put down your money to help make the game even more awesome.

Note: I am in no way affiliated with this project.  I am not getting anything by plugging the project here other than any additional stretch goals that get unlocked if any of you help overfund the game.  I have put my money where my mouth is and helped back this game because, seriously, it looks awesome.

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Dog Biter

Here’s something quick for you that’s part writing prompt, part game review.  Man Bites Dog, from University Games.  The premise is simple: given a hand of five cards, each of which has a noun, verb (or verb-phrase), or adjective and a point value, construct a high-scoring, hopefully funny headline that the majority of players agree is cromulent.  The first to 500 wins.  You can play with two people, though it’s better and funnier with a bigger group.

MBD

So what’s this got to do with anything?  Glad you asked.  In one of my non-fiction classes at Warren Wilson, we did an exercise using a writing prompt with a similar premise; we were each told to write down some occupations and some unusual locations and put them in two pools.  Then we each drew a few at random and mixed them around until we had a character and situation that provided good grist for some writing.  Well, Man Bites Dog works just as well.  The standard rules work just as well if you’re just using it as a writing prompt: draw 5 cards, take a look, and exchange up to three.  Then start writing.

In case you’re wondering, my most recent productive headline-prompt was “Native Dreams of New Dog,” out of which I’ve gotten over 1000 words during a 45-minute sprint.


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