These exercises aren’t that complex, but I have spun a number of short stories/poems from them. I’ll do one each for short story writers, and then one for all you poets.
Try to recall the first ten things you did from the moment you woke up this morning. Try to exclude the more minor engagements that run together as a larger action. For instance, opening your eyes, lifting your covers, swinging your feet off your bed, can all be summarized as simply “awaking,” or “getting out of bed.” After you’ve compiled your list, you should be able to see a decent enough timeline, and probably start seeing a small movie running in your head. Your next task is to pick one or two of those events and delete them. Now replace them with the most bizarre, irrelevant thing you can think of. This allows you to be able to continue your story straight from what you did last, or what you haven’t done. Essentially though, you are twisting reality into a rather humorous, more personal narrative, or you may just stumble upon a murderous swarm of rats that infested your sock drawer through a dimensional rift. Just have fun with it.
I’m sure you’ve heard by now that all important topics are covered by the 5 W’s and the singular H. This exercise is just as bound to them, and just as intriguing. Start off by selecting either Who, What, When, Where, Why, or How. Next, compile a list of approximately 15-25 different questions beginning with the same starter. Talking from experience, depending on how philosophical your questions are, this process could take anywhere from 7-30 minutes. They could be metaphysical ontological questions. You could ponder the existence of a second universe, or even question the validity of the one we know as reality. But once you have your list of however many questions you could come up with, the fun begins. Read it over a couple of times, and hopefully one or two of the questions will really strike you as intriguing. Whichever one you end up choosing will be the basis of your next poem. Remember, the questions that you are genuinely curious about, are the ones that will provide you with the most curious inspiration. You just have to write it all down and tweak it to perfection.