Friday, June 1, 2012

Who wants to play a game of Half-Life? (No, not THAT one)

About fifteen years ago - a fact which makes my hair that much grey-er in shock, I was part of an Improv Comedy group. It was some of the best fun I've ever had, and as a learning experience, it was second to none.

By playing with my friends in this way, I learned to listen carefully and considerately, and then to react like my ass was on fire.

Now, the reason I'm talking about this is that one of the games we used to play was called "Half-Life". In this game, the performers had five minutes to do a scene about whatever prompt they were given. At the end of that minute, it would be performed again in (say it with me) half the time. Once that time elapsed, it was cut again, and again - until the whole thing usually ended up with a sweaty pile of people in the middle of the stage, usually laughing as hard as the audience.

I think this can be done with writing. If any of you have ever written a flash-fiction story to a certain length, you'll know the horror of trying to trim a killer 2,000 word story into the acceptable 500 limit.

So the game I'm proposing today is this - write a page. Approximately 500 words. For the sake of having a prompt, the theme is "Half".

  • When you're done, cut the story in half. Try to tell the same story in 250 words, keep all the characters and events in. 
  • After that, go for 125. 
  • If you pull that off - can you do 63? 
  • How about telling the same story that you told in 500 words in just 31 words. 
  • Can anyone do it in 15?

Post your best in the comments below. (If this exercise produces a story you like and want to submit somewhere - then please don't post it below.)

Go to it!


FYI: I've started a new blog for my fledgling, author-stable-of-one publishing imprint.

Introducing Vicious Kidd Press. On this site, I'll be giving the insider's view to self-pubbing on CreateSpace!


    1. oh geez, Chris, I'll have to mull this one over... *mulling, mulling...*

    2. This sounds like a really good challenge! Not sure I'm up for trying it today, but it must be a good stretch of the writing muscles.

    3. I like this. I'm always writing alternate versions of my stories. In fact, many of my same flash pcs have appeared in journals in a variety of lengths, from 6-, 25-, 55-, and 100-word and up versions. It's an awesome exercise that has helped me hone my own style and creative standards. I'm glad you blogged about this.

    4. Cathy - great to see you 'round these parts. Please do jump in with something if the 'mulling' turns up something fun (which is kind of the point!)

      Eagle - it's "Edu-tainment" at it's best - one of those exercises where you'll learn something about your own writing no matter what!

      Angel - 6 word versions? Damn, you're good, sir!