A [Holiday] Miracle - Reading Between the Lines
I was doing MadLibs with my niece recently, and we agreed that the overall experience would be improved with more precise parts of speech. Rather than just gripe about it, I decided to write my own.
Although this was mostly just for fun, I am struck by the way this story reads with its vacancies unfilled. Its kaleidoscopic image shifts from funny to philosophical to horrible, sometimes in very short order. Perhaps the most amazing thing to me is that it is readable at all—it highlights how the structure of a sentence houses meaning and shapes it.
Writing your own fill-in-the-blank story is certainly an enlightening exercise, and I highly recommend it for both honing your craft and entertainment value.
So, here it is. Enjoy!
Please feel free to comment with your favorite filled in lines should you decide to complete it with a friend. I recommend printing it out for ease of completion.
A [Holiday] Miracle
It was [ number ] day(s) before [ holiday ], and [ name of person in room ] didn’t know what to do. Every [ noun ] in the family was supposed to [ transitive verb ] a contribution for the [ same holiday] party. [ Same person ] thought maybe they would make [ plural noun ], but they weren’t very good at [ intransitive verb ending in -ing ]. They could sing [ name of song ], except that [ name of different person ] would probably say it was too [ adjective ] for [ same holiday ]. [ Same holiday ], after all, is about [ abstract noun ] and [ abstract noun ], not [ adjective ] consumerism.
Finally, [ same person ] sat down on their [ noun ] and thought [ adverb ] about what they had to offer. “Well, I am good at [ verb ending in -ing ],” [ same person ] thought, tapping their [ body part ] contemplatively. “Maybe I’ll do that. [ Different person ] might [ intransitive verb ], but they’re always [ adjective ]. What does it matter?” So, [ same person ] got to work.
First, they gathered supplies: [ color ] paint, [ plural noun ], a [ container ] of 2-[ unit of length ] nails, and [ number ] pounds of [ food ]. [ Same person ] brought all this to the [ room in house ] and dumped it [ spatial preposition ] the [ concrete noun ]. They began to [ verb ] and [ verb ], [ verb ] and [ verb ]. They worked for what seemed like a whole [ unit of time ], missing meals, ignoring [ adjective ] inquiries from family members [ verb ending in -ing ] on the door. [ Same person ] poured their very [ noun ] into this [ adjective ] project.
At last, they were done. [ Same person ] opened the door and [ past tense verb ] their creation to the party. When the family saw what [ same person ] was carrying, they [ past tense intransitive verb ], their faces [ adjective ].
“So this is what you’ve been [ verb ending in -ing],” said [ same person’s ] [ family member ]. “How [ adjective ].” The whole family looked at [ same person ] with [ emotion ] evident in their [ plural body part ].
Suddenly, the [ noun ] in [ same person’s ] hands [ past tense intransitive verb ]. The creation had become possessed by the very spirit of [ abstract noun ] so abundant at this [ same holiday ] party. Its [ noun ] let out a [ sound ]; its [ noun ] glowed [ color ]. The family stared in [ adjective ] amazement.
“[ Exclamation ]!” cried [ same person ]. “It’s alive! It’s a [ same holiday ] miracle.” And so it was.