Just Add Mash and Stir

Song of the Day: Overcome by Creed

Last week, Stacey mentioned in her post a mash-up experiment that she and I and two others participated in. Let me give you a recap, down low on the low down, the specifics of what we, The Usual Suspects, concocted.

Author #1 wrote the beginning of a story up to around 1000 words. He then sent his story to the next author, who in turn would pick up the tale where he left off and write another 1000 or so words. Then Author #2 would pass it along to Author #3, and so forth. After the last person finished their contribution, it went back to Author #1 for another round. When it was our turn again, we read the story thus far and added another chunk. The idea was to go several rounds and create a short story. There was no discussion of genre, plots, characters, or motivation. Imagine our surprise each time the story landed back in our laps, especially given that each one of us has our own unique voice, writing in different genres.

But the bigger surprise came when we finished. We had a great story! Sure, there were plot holes big enough for a convoy of beer-toting truckers to drive through and moments of mass confusion. (Where’d Clyde go? He was here a moment ago? Oh, he’s dead now? Really? How’d that happen? Oh wait, it was just a flesh wound? Yeah, someone should fix that.)  But the bones were strong. We talked about the problems and how to fix them. We are currently editing in the same roundtable fashion, sweeping up any gruesome evidence of heinous writer-ly crimes.

Though it was an experiment, we didn’t treat it as such. We put thought and honed skills to task. The goal was to have a marketable finished product. One that will eventually be available for e-reading.

Participating in this co-written short story was fun. I didn’t feel the usual pressure I place on myself, despite the twinge of performance anxiety. I was the last author, Author #4, in the roundtable. By the time the story reached me, it obviously headed down the dark and scary path of suspense. I should’ve known this would happen. Stacey and the other Usual Suspects have a flair for writing thrillers and romantic suspense.  But I write historical romance. Sure, I like to kill people. Sure, I like to throw in some spills and chills. However, these aspects are not the driving force behind my novels.

I surprised myself. I held my own against these thrill seeking pot boilers. I stepped out of my comfort zone, upped the ante, and managed to add tiers of tension. In the end, I was pleased with what I wrote. I learned that I can be flexible and push my boundaries into uncharted waters I have not been inclined to explore. What a great experience.

How about you? Have you tried your hand at a different genre? Ever plan to? Have you ever participated in a mash-up type story? I’d love to hear from you.

13 Responses to Just Add Mash and Stir

  1. jeff7salter says:

    That’s a cool idea. I’ve participated in poems which were written that way … sorta. Though, of course not as many words.
    Yeah, I’ve left my comfort zone and knocked on some other literary doors.
    My 2nd novel ms. was part historical, part mystery, & part romance. Not marketable.
    My third was a tribue to the ‘greatest generation’ and part comedy, part romance. Thud.
    But my 4th & 5th were screwball romantic comedy. I thought I’d finally hit my stride.
    When I finished my 6th — assuming all along it was also screwball — I was somewhat startled to realize it was comedic romance instead.
    My 7th — just now finished the first draft — has turned out to be romantic suspense.
    Go figure.
    Try finding an agent/editor/publisher for that grouping!

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  2. jbrayweber says:

    Hmm..Jeff, I think you could create your own genre with novels like those. I’d be interested in your Greatest Generation manuscript. But then, I love history. I also love to laugh. And gotta have the romance! If you ask me, between commenting here, posting on your own blog, and some of the first lines I’ve read, you’ve got a flair for comedy. Or maybe a career as a clown. Not sure. LOL! JK!

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  3. I’ve switched genre from paranormal/vampire to straight up contemporary romance and it was fun. Though, to be quite honest, the next contemporary I write will need to have at least one murderous rampage.
    I can’t wait for an opportunity to read your finished product and will keep an eye out for a release. 😉

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  4. jbrayweber says:

    That’s a big switch-up, Robin. And if it’s fun, then keep doing it. Murderous rampage, huh? Remind me not to make you mad. LOL!

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  5. Kristen says:

    I don’t kill people that annoy me as characters, I make them smelly and whiny with bad teeth. They to find that soooo much more offensive.

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  6. jbrayweber says:

    LOL, Kristen. Bad teeth and offensive body odor doesn’t get more scarier than that! For me though, humiliation, knocking that chip off the shoulder, then plugging them with a deadly weapon is fun. HA!

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  7. Kristin- there’s a dark side to you that we know nothing about!!! Torture is more your game. HAHAHA

    I can’t wait to see how our first editing get together will go! It’s been fun and without the usual stress and self doubt that goes along with our normal writing. We might be able to make a whopping .08 a piece for each story sold…..I might be able to buy a Caribbean island!

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  8. jbrayweber says:

    The lack of stress is truly a plus. It’s weird. You’d think it would be more stressful trying to live up to the others’ expectations. No so. Maybe because we respect one another as authors. You might not be able to buy that island, but maybe you can buy a calendar with tropical beach scenes. LOL! Better yet, we can pool our money and take a Caribbean cruise! Oh yeah……

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  9. William says:

    So far, it’s shaping up nicely. There’s something wonderfully freeing about sitting at the keyboard and just tossing hand-grenades on to the page to see what happens! Kind of exciting to think about the finished product!

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  10. jbrayweber says:

    I agree, William. Once we spit-shine it, what a fun story we will have. Grenades and all! 🙂

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  11. Sounds like you’re cooking up a really good story. Do you have a title yet? When do you expect it to be out?

    I am the coordinator of the group novels for PetitFoursAndHotTamales.com. So far, we’ve done two spy novels (“Aspen Exposé” and “Atlanta Exposé”) and a paranormal, “Merlin’s Daughter.” It’s so much fun, I almost wish that’s all I had to do. It really is exciting to watch things unfold and see the twists the others come up with.

    We are working on a mystery called “The Undercover Librarian.” We publish our books on the blog during the last two weeks of the year and give away prizes to readers who comment. Please join us, and keep us posted about your mash-up. 🙂

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  12. jbrayweber says:

    Hi Linsey~

    No, no title as of yet. But we plan to bill it as a b-rated drive-in movie, complete with extra helping of cheese sauce. LOL. Our goal is to have it available by the end of the year. With school starting, it’s made everyone’s schedule a little hectic. But you’re right, it was such fun.

    I love that you guys at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales do this, too. I had no idea. I’m certainly going to be watching for this come the holidays. A mystery titled The Undercover Librarian sounds enticing. I’m there! 🙂

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    Like

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