Writer’s Workshop Icebreaker

I have been participating in a young adult writer’s workshop that my mom has been hosting at our house this summer. We had a small but mighty group of six for our first meeting, three of whom were not members of our family. We began the proceedings with an ice-breaker to get us all comfortable with taking a crazy idea and going with it.

Give each participant a piece of paper and tell them to write the first sentence of a story. When you have all written your sentence, pass the paper to the person next to you. You can do this back and forth between two people, or send the paper around the entire circle. Repeat until you have five sentences. My mom and I played this game today:

STORY 1, written by Mom and Hannah

I clattered down the steps, hit the crash bar at a run, and flinched as the rain hit me.

I felt a hand on my arm and knew that the child was still behind me, and I shuddered at the thought of what she might force me to do next, to prevent the onset of another deafening tantrum.

But, looking around, I began to relax, because she could throw herself to the pavement, kick her legs, and scream herself hoarse out here and no one would hear her, or if they did, they wouldn’t care.

Everyone else had problems of their own, and from my vantage point i could see the executive director of my company yowling at a balloon that wobbled desperately toward the storm clouds, and a few secretaries shrieking and pulling at either end of a faded jumprope, and as I gazed upon the spectacle I wondered, was I the only person left on Earth uninfected by the Infantile Virus?

When the CEO of the company walked up to me with his thumb is his mouth and lisped, “Can you tie my shoe, pleath?” I knew I had to put a stop to this madness.


STORY 2, written by Hannah and Mom

Well, I admitted to myself, I guess I should have seen this coming.

If you run into a crowded theater and yell, “Zombies!” in the middle of the CSO performing “Fanfare for the Common Man,” you have to expect at least a thousand pairs of shocked and affronted eyes to whip toward you like piranas to a helpless monkey in the Amazon.

The thing I hadn’t known when I burst into the theater was that the audience members were far from capable of rescuing me from the undead outside, and were in fact eager to join the hunt, as their gaping jaws and rolling eyes attested.

I never imagined a few hundred zombies would file meekly into an auditorium, take their seats, and listen politely to an orchestral program consisting of works from twentieth-century American composers.

The music had squealed to a stop at my entrance, but as I looked up toward the petrified and clearly human orchestra members, I knew that they were just as surprised as I was, and that “Fanfare for the Common Man” was our only hope of getting out alive.


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