Mad Libs is a popular word game created by Roger Price and Leonard Stern. A Mad Lib is a story with certain words left out. To play the game, a reader asks participants to provide words in specific parts of speech–such as noun, adjective, verb, etc–to fill in the blanks. The people providing the words don’t know what the story is, so when all the blanks are filled in and the reader reads the story, hilarity ensues, with lines such as, “The grumpy democrat played his cat on the train.”
Purchased Mad Libs books are fun, but sometimes, it’s even more fun to write your own Mad Lib-style story. That way, you can personalize your story for any occasion. For example, your annual Christmas newsletter can be much more interesting to read if you write it as a Mad Lib and allow your recipients to create your year’s highlights. It can also be fun at a birthday party to write a Mad Lib about the guest of honor. To ensure your story comes out well, there’s a few tips to consider.
Write the complete story first, and pull words out after it’s written. This helps make sure your story makes sense and isn’t just a list of blanks to fill in. It’s important to leave enough of the story there so listeners understand what’s going on. It may be tempting to leave lots of opportunities to fill in silly words, but remember that silliness is usually only funny against a back drop of sense.
Do think about which words you may leave out as you’re writing, though. Be sure to look for opportunities for humor. For example, if you’re writing about a specific person, consider leaving a blank for an adjective to describe him, or leave a blank for a noun that will be described as his treasured possession, or a blank for a food that’s his favorite.
It can become difficult for people to keep thinking of the same parts of speech, so make sure you use a variety. The tendency when writing your own is to use a lot of adjectives. Watch out for that. Look for opportunities to use blanks beyond the normal noun, adjective or verb. Ask for a food, or a place or a special award.
If you’re writing a newsletter that’s supposed to actually impart information, make sure you don’t leave out necessary words. Alternately, if you want to leave a chance for people to decide little Timmy won the Pulitzer Prize this year, consider sending along a copy of the letter filled in the right way as well, so they know he won MVP on his Little League team.
Once your story is finished, try it out with someone before you mail it or use it at a party. This will show you any mistakes you made, such as asking for a noun when you need a plural noun or leaving out a word that’s needed for the story to make sense.
If your story is about the guest of honor at a party, consider printing it on nice paper and writing neatly as you fill it in so you can present it as a gift afterward. He’ll treasure the memory of the night he was called “a sleepy man who loves penguins!”