Heide and I are big fans of index cards as collaborative writing tools. Not only can we use index cards (or file cards or postcards or whatever) to jot down story ideas and arrange them as we wish, kind of like a lo-tech version of those drag and drop touchscreens that they seem so fond of in Spooks, CSI and what have you, but we can also use them to get large numbers of people involved in the creative process.
We’re currently planning a novel which, for much of it, takes place in Hell. Our hero is a demon and many of the supporting cast are demons. I’ve read and really enjoyed CS Lewis’s Screwtape Letters which features a number of demons, including Toadpipe and the eponymous Screwtape. Lewis’s naming convention for demons appeared to be to take two innocuous monosyllabic nouns and thrust them together to make a new word.
And so, Heide and I sat in the pub and got all the people around us to write single syllable nouns on pieces of card. We didn’t tell them the ultimate purpose of these cards, not wishing to bias the process. Sadly, because we were in a pub and alcohol was involved, some of the words were either rude or, at least, very suggestive. Nevertheless, we then explained the purpose of the exercise and got our drinking buddies to pair up random nouns to make demon names.
It wasn’t a high brow exercise and I’m not sure whether this game has applications elsewhere. But it was fun and that’s what collaborative writing is supposed to be. Here’s a selection of our favourite names created in the game:
Batcheese, Bonegulp, Boneslime, Bootowl, Bumbung, Bushgob, Bushhat, Cheesepaunch, Coughnose, Crutchwatch, Cuffspud, Frogscrote, Grudgespur, Gufftit, Halfroach, Knobblotch, Lickboot, Panflange, Panmouth, Passionshirt, Pearsock, Poodream, Rutspud, Scabass, Scabtongue, Scumplug, Slimeslot, Sockpole, Spivscreed, Spudmutt, Tipslime, Titspear, Toeflange, Wartdump, Witchdigger
As I say, not big or clever. But we had fun.