From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;

Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows

Doth with their death bury their parents' strife.

Wm Shkspre, R&J, prologue
This is a little complicated, so bear with me. There's a reward at the end, I hope.

Craig Conley created a terrific dictionary of one-letter words, including as many definitions as he could find for each letter. Then, through a series of ineffable events, he developed The X-O-Skeleton Story Generator. You play a game of Tic Tac Toe, alternating between Xs and Os, until the game is won (or drawn). Each X and O is connected to one of a few dozen possible meanings for that letter, drawn from Craig's dictionary. X might refer to magnifying, like a 4x camera zoom lens, or it might refer to the mark one makes instead of signing one's name, or the mark that tells you where to sign it. By the end of the game you'll have a string of up to nine different concepts, alternating between Xs and Os like the kisses and hugs at the end of a letter.

I decided to give this method a try. But I don't write stories, and I enjoy making my constraints as tricksy as possible, so I decided to write a limerick. One that gives a basic account of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, much as he himself does in the prologue quoted above. Also, like the play, the Tic Tac Toe game had to end with neither side winning, which meant packing nine different concepts into the five lines. Also I tried to work in as much internal rhyme as I could, because if you're going to rhyme, you might as well rhyme all the way.

Anyway, you can read "An X-O-gesis of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet" at Craig's blog.

I strongly encourage others to give the X-O-Skeleton Story Generator a try; I don't think the possibilities are nearly exhausted yet.



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