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I’ve been meaning to do this for quite some time. Late last year, I wrote a post that was featured on the site of a fellow author and very dear friend of mine, Jennifer Niven. I kept meaning to repost it here but, of course, other things kept coming up. This is actually one of my first, and yet still one of my favorite posts to date, since it deals with the creative process, inspiration, and the magic of where words can take us. I’ve actually written a follow-up to this post as well, so if you enjoy this one, please post a comment to let me know and I will follow it up with the sequel before long.

Monkfish

The Word Game:

One of the first things Jennifer Niven and I did when we first met was to play a word game. The goal wasn’t to come up with obscure words, know how to spell tough ones, or even to use a big word in a sentence. The goal was simply to incorporate interesting words into a story.

It all started at a Japanese restaurant. We were sitting there, looking at the menu, and noticed many strange and interesting items. After struggling with several on the list, we finally settled on one that we thought was particularly amusing and would be great to incorporate into a story somehow: monkfish.

We kept brainstorming and before long had a list of other items we thought needed to be incorporated in the monkfish’s adventure. ‘Trowel’ was one. ‘Badger’ was another. I’m pretty sure ‘desert’ was on the list. Before long, we had a whole ridiculous story laid out about a trowel-wielding monkfish in a desert, who makes friends (or gets eaten) by a talking badger. Or perhaps it was a trowel wielding-badger who gets eaten by a giant, land-dwelling monkfish…

The details aren’t important. What is important is that we let our imaginations and love of literature (loosely applied in this context) run wild. We visualized and pretended, and had a great time with it (I distinctly remember waving a piece of sushi in front of Jennifer and calling it a ‘monkfish,’ which she then summarily refused to eat).

Now years later, the brain-children from that silly little game lives on. In my book, Bobby Ether and the Academy, you will find several references to trowels, as well as one very ornery badger, who can’t seem to stay out of the limelight. I have yet to work the word ‘monkfish’ into a book but have no doubt that, one day when the right story comes along, the final member of my trowel-wielding monkfish/badger family will have a home.

PS – a few months ago, Jennifer and I added ‘lovely’ and ‘sword’ to the growing lexicon of our word game. I encourage you all to experiment with your own word games to see what kind of  fascinating (and bizarre) stories you can come up with.