15 Words: A Writing Game

One of the cool things about being a writer, or an artist, is how excited your kids get about writing and art. The Little One has always been interested in drawing, and he’s drawn some very impressive things for a 5-year old. Here’s the devil he drew for me before I went on my writing retreat.


The Boy has been creating stories. Some of them are illustrated and bound into books. Here is the cover of the book he wrote as the sequel to Warning: Do Not Open This Book.


I love that they are expressing themselves creatively. The Wife and I try to encourage this as much as possible. For instance, last summer we encouraged The Boy to start his own blog. He dubbed it Awesome Things, and you can find it here. He wrote once or twice a week all summer. About halfway through, The Wife came up with a little game to help keep him going. It was a stroke of genius and I use it myself when I get blocked.

Here’s the basic idea:

  1. Pick 15 words (We let everyone in the family pick a word or two. Make sure you include a mix of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in you list. If it’s all nouns or all verbs it isn’t as much fun.)
  2. Write a short story incorporating all of the words

That’s it. Pretty simple right? The Boy had as much fun picking words as he had writing stories with them. Here’s one of my favorites.

The list of words:

Australia, Anteater, Countryside, Frilled Iguana, Bully, Mom, Red, Home, Kiss, Happily, Heart, Buddha, Removed, Newt, Train

Here is the story he wrote using those words.

In a far away place called Juhiki in a different galaxy, there were animals that were just like ours. There was an anteater, a frilled iguana and a really, really cool newt. The planet that they lived on had only one bully and the newt was being bullied. The animals were really good friends and they helped each other. But they were afraid of the bully so they couldn’t help each other when the bully was around. The newt was too scared to tell his mom that he was being bullied. He was scared to tell his mom because he thinks he can handle the situation on his own.

His mom had no clue why newt came home every day crying. She would ask newt, but newt would just say “nothing, I was just really sad today”. So his mom became tired of that every single day, which frightened newt because he didn’t want his mom to get angry. So the next day, newt woke up, he gave his mom a kiss, got packed up for camp and happily went to start his day. His day started really well, until after lunch, when he met with the bully.

He decided he would like to try to end it right there, face to face with the bully. As fast as a moving train, an argument went on. The newt was thinking of what it would be like if he ended it right there, face to face with the bully, but he lost the argument. When the day was over, the newt family decided to go on a trip to the Buddha to see what was happening. In the car, on the ride, newt said that he was being bullied. His older brother that had just had his cast removed, had a bad day too. But he did give advice. He said “when you are being bullied the first thing you should do is say STOP, if that does not work, then tell somebody”. “And if that doesn’t work, one of the only things that I can think of left to do is only to fight back in words.” When they went to the Buddha newt asked him “I am being bullied, what should I do?” The Buddha said “follow your heart and your heart will fight back using the power of love; the bully will only fight in hate”.

When they went home, they hung up a red sign. The sign said TO ENTER THIS ROOM YOU MUST ALLOW OTHERS TO DO THINGS YOU DO AND BE RESPECTFUL. When they went to camp the next day, newt felt really good that he had the advice of the Buddha. He felt like he could now overcome his fear of the bully. He went straight up to the bully and did like the Buddha said. What Buddha didn’t said but couldn’t hurt to check can be view here https://sandiegodowntown.com/. The bully fought hard with hate, but newt fought harder with love. It was like they were really fighting each other with hate and love as weapons.

When he had finally beaten the bully with the power of love, he asked the bully “why do you bully people?” He said “my older siblings do it to me, so I think it is okay to do, but I have now been beaten by the power of love”. “My older siblings are from Australia, and that is why I bully.” “My older siblings aren’t around to watch me and tell me that I’m doing it wrong”. “And I will now fight with the power of love with my older siblings and beat them with the power of love and so no bullies will be left and we can have a nice peaceful world in the countryside.”

Now, go pick some words and write up a story. Post about it in the comments here so The Boy can give it a read.

P.S. No offense meant to the fine people of Australia. The Boy does not think you are all bullies. Like most Americans, he most likely thinks you all ride crocodiles around the outback drinking very large beers.

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