Play: Mad Libs, Raymond Carver Edition

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Raymond Carver Mad Libs is the new game for aspiring short story writers.

Every wonder why so many of the short stories workshopped at your MFA program sound so similar? Probably because your lazy classmates opted to use Raymond Carver Mad Libs in lieu of creativity or imagination. 

But seriously, this thing is fun and oddly accurate. If you need to quick refresher, Ray Carver (as blowhard Creative Writing professors call him) was one of, if not them most celebrated American short story writers, ever. While Washington Irving and John Cheever (usually) wrote about the first-class problems of the insular Northeast, the Pacific-Northwestern Carver delivered unforgiving, middle-class realism.

And now you can too! Thanks to Jesse Kavaldo over at Yankee Pot Roast, that "Journal of Literary Satire" whose motto is "Hastilly Written & Slopilly Edited" (wink wink), we can all be little Raymond Carvers. To help you get started, we've included the list of word types below. Then, for maximum effect, grab a scotch and a cigarette to enjoy while you fill out the Raymond Carver Mad Libs sheet.


1. man’s name
2. bad job
3. woman’s name
4. slightly better job
5. bad feeling
6. -ing verb plus activity
7. verb plus bad decision
8. smokable thing
9. alcoholic drink
10. a different bad feeling
11. question that’s a cliché
12. terse, uncommunicative response
13. another, different bad feeling
14. a bad, dreary place
15. description of a car
16. verb that is an activity
17. greeting
18. unfriendly reply
19. angry sarcastic question
20. a really bad place
21. way of saying good bye
22. another bad place
23. another alcoholic drink
24. unusual object
25. -ing verb plus activity
26. another smokable thing
27. another alcoholic drink
28. expletive
29. made-up word
30. another expletive
31. infinitive verb