Consulting the Surreal Oracle, and another excerpt for #WIPpet Wednesdays

When I wrote up my report on the last Villa Diodati workshop a while ago, there was something I forgot, and that was to explain a little game we played called The Surreal Oracle. Ben Rosenbaum introduced the game at a workshop in southern France a couple years back, and we’ve been playing it off and on at Villa Diodati ever since. The rules are fairly simple. Each person writes down five random questions and five random answers on a piece of paper, like this:

The Surreal Oracle

Then you go around the circle and ask you neighbor the first question on your list, and he or she answers with their own first answer. To mix it up a bit, after you’ve finished a round, you can switch directions, or change places at the table, so it isn’t always the same people asking and answering. With a group of crazy writers, you can get some amazing answers out of the surreal oracle. Of course, most of the time, the questions and answers don’t fit, but enough of them do that whenever we play, I usually end up laughing so hard it hurts. Here are some of the questions and answers we had at the last workshop:

Ruth: How can you tell an ass from a donkey?
Jeff: How should I know? The sun was in my eyes and I was finding it difficult to grasp the shot glass.

Sylvia: What do you think is my most attractive feature?
Christian: That’s the worst pick-up line ever.

Jeremy: What advice would you give to your daughter?
Ruth: I think it should be Floris.

Floris: What is the best aspect of good foreplay?
Grayson: Slow torture will pretty much work every time.

Sylvia: How do you motivate yourself to write?
Jeff: All I remember is the cult leader, white smoke, and the speakers blasting ABBA.

I highly recommend the game, especially in a round of creative types. 🙂

On to the Nanowrimo front, I continue to make excellent ground on the new project and am now at 43,579 words for the month. At this rate, I might win it after all! I hope everyone else is doing great and happy with their progress.

So now that I have fulfilled my duty to my fellow workshoppers, and posted my Nanowrimo progress, I can continue on to Wednesday’s normal feature, WIPpet Wednesday! My math today (11-27) goes like this: 27-11=16. So I’m giving you 16 sentences from my still unnamed fugitive story:

She thought about buying a gun, but she hated the things, now even more than before, and she didn’t know how to use them anyway. She would just have to make sure that the bad guys didn’t catch up with her. She paid for the big ticket items with her credit card, stowed them in her station wagon (officially a crossover, but she still thought of it as a station wagon). She’d parked in the darkest corner of the the parking lot, and she used her screw drivers to steal a front license plate from a nearby car.
Then she returned to the store and bought food, pens, some basic medicines, a couple of spiral notebooks, and some books — in several consecutive runs through the cash register, paying with her debit card and asking for the limit of a hundred dollars cash back each time. She paid in cash for a wig, hair dye, and some large sunglasses.
When she was finished with her shopping spree, she stole a few more front license plates, this time from the employee parking lot, replacing them with a couple of the themed plates on a North Carolina background that she’d bought. She only hoped that would keep the owners from noticing the theft right away.
After she left the superstore, she drove south on Fayetteville Road and pulled into the parking lot of a nearby church. Luckily, urban planning in North Carolina was very nearly non-existent, and outside of the actual city centers, suburbs and shopping malls and industrial parks were like bird droppings on the landscape, usually with plenty of undeveloped fields and trees between the buildings.
In the deserted parking lot, Amber took off her own license plates and replaced the front with one proclaiming, “Hell was so full I came back.” Then she replaced the back with one of the stolen plates. She didn’t want to get rid of her own plates so close to home — although, when she thought about it, once they started going after her, they would be able to trace her easily enough to the superstore up-road.
Across the street from the church was a thickly wooded area. She jogged across the street and hid the license plates under some bushes not far from the road.
By the time she was done, it was almost midnight — which meant she could plunder her bank accounts one last time.

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts. 🙂

17 thoughts on “Consulting the Surreal Oracle, and another excerpt for #WIPpet Wednesdays”

  1. That writing exercise sounds hilarious and fun. The exchange between Ruth and Jeff about the donkey sounds like a potential opening line for a very, very bizarre story.

  2. Oh, my GOODNESS, that sounds like so much fun! I’ll have to play that with my family when we visit again. Right after a round or two of our favourite game, Eat Poop Now Cat.

    Love the excerpt. She sounds very organized– clearer-headed than I’d be if I were on the run! And I like what she bought. That DOES sound like me. Pens, notebooks, books, food… yep.

  3. That game is definitely going on the list for Family Game Night in January!! No other writers in the family but they are . . . um . . . unique. So I’m sure we’ll be busting a gut laughing.

    I love this description: “were like bird droppings on the landscape” I can actually picture that in my mind. Sounds like Amber is getting things well thought out.

  4. Wonderful game …I think I’ll use it for this year’s Christmas get-together

    … keep those words coming. You’ll get there.

    … I pulled a couple of all-nighters and got mine out on the 25th. I couldn’t stand trying to write in a way that wasn’t natural for me any longer! I’m a goodly way into my story though, which is great. If I do it next year I’m going to have a much more detailed outline, and NOT have to take two weeks out for medical stuff!

    1. Ah, yes, I’ve long been planning to write a post about respecting your process — maybe once Nano is over!

      I think I will put aside the translation project for a couple of days and give it my darndest to see if I can’t “win” after all. 🙂

  5. I’m liking your character, Amber, here. She’s definitely got a good head for dealing with pressure. I’m not sure I could stay as level-headed as she is. (Oh, heck, I know I wouldn’t be as level-headed as she’s being. I mean, how could I leave all my “stuff” behind, and my books and my…. And then to leave the place with the memories of my husband, and…)

    Ah… I’d probably have just walked into the bullet when they shot my hubby in Amber’s place. :-/

    But I could definitely have a lot of fun playing that game. The Surreal Oracle. It sounds a bit like something my hubby introduced me to in college… The Stupid Question list. It was a big Usenet list of questions and answers like:

    Q: How does a mouse when it spins?
    A: The higher, the fewer

    And stuff like that… Silly, fun, and made me go “huh?” way too often.

    1. Well, right before this scene, she does have a bawling fit … I don’t think I could be as level-headed either. I’d break down and give myself away and there wouldn’t be any story.

      1. Then the story would have to either involve spiritual elements or a different protag… It would still be a story, just a different one.

  6. Oh dear! Will she make it? Those superstore purchases will definitely flag her pretty quickly. And if she gets money from someplace else, they’ll know which direction she’s heading. Aaah! Run! Run!

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