The Tandem Story

Tandem Story
Working in tandem!

About 6 months ago I was idly browsing a funny pictures site because I had a lot to do that day and didn’t want to get started on any of it. I was locked into that weird semi-hypnotic state of: scroll page, click funny picture, chuckle, scroll page, scroll page, click next (4 of 8,982) click funny picture, chuckle, scroll page….and so on, I suspect you’ve all been there at some point.

When I realised that the thief of time had robbed me I went to close the browser but I saw a very long squished up picture of nothing but text. Promising myself this would be the last one I offered a chuckle to, I clicked it and zoomed in on the image. I was glad I did because it’s one of the funniest pictures I’ve seen.

It’s about a Tandem Story Telling assignment set by a teacher to the class. Each student had to write a scene then email it to their writing partner along with the teacher. The story would bounce back and forth until a conclusion was reached. Further down the page you’ll find the original picture, read on for the text version:

Here’s a prime example of “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.” It is offered by an English professor from the University of Colorado as an actual class assignment:

A Creative Writing professor told his class one day:

“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 next to his or her desk.

As homework tonight, one of you will write the first paragraph of a short story. You will email your partner that paragraph and the another copy to me. The partner will read the first paragraph and then add another paragraph to the story and send it back, also sending another copy to me. The first person will then add a third paragraph, and so on, back and forth.

Remember to read what has been written each time in order to keep the story coherent. There is to be absolutely NO talking outside of the emails and anything you wish to say must be written in the email. The story is over when both agree a conclusion has been reached.”

The following was actually turned in by two of his English students:

Rebecca [Pink]

Bill [Blue]

The Story.

[First Paragraph by Rebecca.]

At first, Laurie couldn’t decide which kind of tea she wanted. The chamomile, which used to be her favourite 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 chamomile was out of the question.


Meanwhile, Advance Sergeant Carl Harris, leader of the attack squadron now it 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 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 the ship’s cargo bay. The jolt from the direct hit sent him flying out of his seat and across the cockpit.


He bumped his head and died almost immediately, but not before he felt one last pang of regret for psychically brutalising the one woman who had ever had feelings for him. Soon afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful farmers of Skylong 4. “Congress Passes Law Permanently Abolishing War & Space Travel,” Laurie read in her newspaper one morning. The news simultaneously excited her and bored her. She stared out of the window dreaming of her youth, when the days passed unhurriedly and carefree, with no newspaper 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 had 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 dimwitted peaceniks who pushed the Unilateral Aerospace disarmament treaty through Congress had left Earth a defenceless 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 fire power to pulverise the entire planet. With no one to stop them, they swiftly initiated their diabolical plan. The lithium fusion missiles 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 explosions, which vaporised even poor, stupid Laurie.


This is absurd. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature My writing partner is a violent, chauvinistic semi-literate adolescent.


Yeah? Well, my writing partner is a self-centred tedious neurotic whose attempts at writing are the litterary equivalent of Valium. “Oh, shall I have the chamomile tear? Or shall I have some other sort of F–KING TEA?? Oh no, what am I to do? I’m such an air headed bimbo. I guess I’ve read too many Danielle Steele novels!”








In your dreams, Ho. Go drink some tea.


A+ I really liked this one.

The original. It’s quite long. You can click it to make it bigger & easier to read.

8 thoughts on “The Tandem Story

  1. Hi and welcome! I remember doing this in high school going around every person in the classroom, it got some great laughs but it proved that you can be creative and imaginative in an instant if you need to be.

  2. Hi noobc…I am going to join in but I had to set up a blog for my friend tonight, take photos of her house and upload them. It’s taken a lot longer than I thought….and it’s still not finished. 😦 I have bookemarked that post and will come back to it 🙂

  3. I was avoiding doing things, just as you describe at the beginning of the post, and laughed so hard reading this! Thanks for making my day!

    1. It’s just so easy to spend vast amounts of time mindlessly browsing the internet. Years ago I never would have worried about it but now I feel more aware of having not been productive and have to tear myself away from funny sites, well, after a dozen pages or so!

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