A fun way to play: plagiarize

I discovered a fun little writing exercise that can be incredibly quick and a great source of inspiration. The idea is to excerpt some favourite or famous bit of text by an author you admire, then rewrite it to different characters in a new setting. Here’s a simple quick example. 

The original:

The old woman leaned heavily on her cane as she slowly made her way to the bus bench. She wore a floppy brimmed hat to shield her from the sun and a pair of sunglasses so big that they covered half of her face. She dropped to the bench as though she had taken her last step and never intended to move again.

from “How to write a great story” by Othello Bach


The outlaw leaned heavily on his shotgun as he slowly made his way to the shade of a rocky outcropping. He wore a dusty cowboy hat to shield him from the desert sun and a grimy beard obscured half his face. He dropped to the ground as though he had taken his last step and never intended to move again.

With the minimal rewriting demanded, the merits as actual writing practice are debatable. As a source of inspiration, however, the possibilities are endless! Now, given that the rewrite takes so little time, consider it a warmup or a way to trick ourselves into writing when other kinds are just too hard right now. 

Try it yourself with this excerpt from Dr Zeuss’s Oh, the places you’ll go! :

You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

Share in the comments, the more bizarre the better. Best of luck!


6 thoughts on “A fun way to play: plagiarize

  1. For my own silly rhyme:
    “You’ll look up and down streams. Look ’em over with fear.
    About most you’ll say, ‘I don’t choose to swim there.’
    With your head full of lead and your feet in a muddle
    you’re too dense to not drown in any not-so-good puddle.”

  2. You’ll be inside out, don’t think I don’t dare
    For force is my way, my will you will bear,
    No way you’ll squirm free, admit it’s defeat
    You weren’t too smart to meander my streets

  3. Over the rainbow? Look closer, my dear,
    There’s a sinister edge to this gold-bricked frontier,
    With red sparkly slippers, and a dog in a basket,
    if you tangle with witches, you’ll end up in a casket.

    1. Wonderful! I hope you don’t mind that I set the challenge to Natalie and my mom to post their versions before you do ;). Hopefully, Talie will still turn up now that you’ve posted.

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