Collaborative Writing for Fun

Remember those campfire stories, where one person starts: “It was a dark, chilly night…”

The next person adds something new: “…when Peter found himself lost in the spooky woods…”

And someone else pipes up: “…where the sudden hoot of an owl startled him, and…”

“…he tripped, and rolled to the bottom of the ravine…”

“…and got eaten by werewolves who…” There’s one in every bunch.

Writers and artists can play this game, too. In fact, the Surrealists invented a game they called The Exquisite Corpse, or exquisite cadaver (from the original French term cadavre exquis) or rotating corpse. In a forum or message board, it’s difficult (never say “impossible”!) to conceal what came before, but it is quite easy to throw a surprise or a monkey wrench (or just monkeys) at one’s fellow writers and demand that they exercise creativity and a nimble wit in writing through or around it.

A group of us indulged in this sort of play, online, in the Writers Ink RoundTable on GEnie a thousand years ag–okay, about 26 years ago–and from my contributions to those efforts I was able to pull an award-winning short story, which appears in Innocents and Demons. More importantly, it was a lot of fun and I miss writing with those folks!

Recently, Manie Richards (aka Camey) started a similar thread, “What can you add to make it interesting?” in her SparkPeople team, Tips For Writing & Weightloss. As a working title, that’s not terribly interesting – but Camey didn’t much like the idea of calling it, “The Exquisite Corpse,” so there you go. Poor Camey tried and tried to make it a romance, but after four women fell inexplicably in love with the horndog guitarist, Bob, I decided to drop a body on the dance floor. The disco ball came down with it, and although Camey tried to burn the bar down and wrap the story up right then and there, Janice called in Detective Malone and we found ourselves with a serial killer on our hands.

I’m not talking about carefully crafted, thoughtfully planned and outlined writing, here. Pantsers will love it; planners will fly into a panic at the thought! We’d love to have more readers – do watch out for plotholes big enough to drive a truck through, and paradoxes and anomalies that might rip the very fabric of a lesser universe. We strive for some continuity, but don’t lose sleep over it!

Not a member of SparkPeople, yet? Click here to join – it’s free, and it’s great not only for the support in achieving weight loss (or gain!) and fitness goals, but for tracking other goals, such as quitting smoking, writing/editing a book, learning Python – whatever! (I’ve been a member for over 10 years now. I get a hefty 50% commission – which amounts to $0.00, since membership is FREE! – for every member I refer.)

Really, just come read the story and cheer us on.


Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at For more information on her children's books, please visit
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