I was talking to my husband about my book last night, and he told me that he wanted to write a book about vampire hunters who hunted down my vampires, although he admitted that I might not like that too well. I told him that could become something new in fiction: a husband and wife who write countering (instead of collaborative) books. Although I don’t think entire books would work too well; better that we wrote countering short stories. Or counting chapters—he gets one chapter or story, then I get the next. Actually, that’s a good idea for a writing exercise—and one I’ve seen done before as a game—so why don’t I offer it up as this week’s writing excercise?
Start writing a story about anything and write exactly one page. Do not go over one page, even by one word. If this means leaving a sentence only half-completed, do it. Pass this page off to your partner and let them write the next page (completing your last sentence if necessary). They will then pass the story back to you. Go until one or both of you get tired of writing on it, or one of you logically concludes it on your turn.
The purpose of this exercise is not to learn how to work with someone else—because you are still working independently—but rather to see what directions a story can take that you never saw. When we’re reading a completed book, we don’t often think, “I wouldn’t have done that there; I would have rather the character went off in this other direction and had all of these other adventures.” Fan fiction is as close as you get to that, and typically people who write that start a different plot of their own with established characters and go from there. This exercise is stopping a scene in the middle and then seeing (via another contributor) where it can go from there. It’s improvisational writing, and it can really get the creative juices flowing.