ACTUAL WRITING ASSIGNMENT TURNED IN TO
RECEIVED FROM AN ENGLISH PROFESSOR:
This assignment was actually turned in by two of my English students: Rebecca (last name
deleted) and Gary (last name deleted) English 44A SMU Creative Writing Prof. Miller
In-class Assignment for Wednesday
Today we will experiment with a new form called the tandem story. The process is simple.
Each person will pair off with the person sitting to his or her immediate right. One of
you will then write the first paragraph of a short story. The partner will read the first
paragraph and then add another paragraph to the story. The first person will then add a
third paragraph, and so on back and forth. Remember to reread what has been written each
time in order to keep the story coherent. The story is over when both agree a conclusion
has been reached.
At first, Laurie couldn't decide which kind of tea she wanted. The camomile, which used to
be her favorite for lazy evenings at home, now reminded her too much of Carl, who once
said, in happier times, that he liked camomile. But she felt she must now, at all costs,
keep her mind off Carl. His possessiveness was suffocating, and if she thought about him
too much her asthma started acting up again. So camomile was out of the question.
Meanwhile, Advance Sergeant Carl Harris, leader of the attack squadron now in orbit over
Skylon 4, had more important things to think about than the neuroses of an air-headed
asthmatic bimbo named Laurie with whom he had spent one sweaty night over a year ago.
"A.S. Harris to Geostation 17," he said into his transgalactic communicator.
"Polar orbit established. No sign of resistance so far..." But before he could
sign off a bluish particle beam flashed out of nowhere and blasted a hole through his
ship's cargo bay. The jolt from the direct hit sent him flying out of his seat and across
He bumped his head and died almost immediately, but not before he felt one last pang of
regret for psychically brutalizing the one woman who had ever had feelings for him. Soon
afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful farmers of Skylon
4. "Congress Passes Law Permanently Abolishing War and Space Travel," Laurie
read in her newspaper one morning. The news simultaneously excited her and bored her. She
stared out the window, dreaming of her youth -- when the days had passed unhurriedly and
carefree, with no newspapers to read, no television to distract her from her sense of
innocent wonder at all the beautiful things around her. "Why must one lose one's
innocence to become a woman?" she pondered wistfully.
Little did she know, but she has less than 10 seconds to live. Thousands of miles above
the city, the Anu'udrian mothership launched the first of its lithium fusion missiles. The
dim-witted wimpy peaceniks who pushed the Unilateral Aerospace Disarmament Treaty through
Congress had left Earth a defenseless target for the hostile alien empires who were
determined to destroy the human race. Within two hours after the passage of the treaty the
Anu'udrian ships were on course for Earth, carrying enough firepower to pulverize the
entire planet. With no one to stop them, they swiftly initiated their diabolical plan. The
lithium fusion missile entered the atmosphere unimpeded. The President, in his top-secret
mobile submarine headquarters on the ocean floor off the coast of Guam, felt the
inconceivably massive explosion which vaporized Laurie and 85 million other Americans. The
President slammed his fist on the conference table. "We can't allow this! I'm going
to veto that treaty! Let's blow 'em out of the sky!"
This is absurd. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature. My writing partner
is a violent, chauvinistic, semi-literate adolescent.
Yeah? Well, you're a self-centered, tedious, neurotic whose attempts at writing are the
literary equivalent of Valium.