Exercise #6: The Mashup

The Muses don’t always grant inspiration for your latest masterpiece upon demand.

musesThat writer there?  Screw that guy! No Musing for him!

Sometimes, you’ll look at an assignment or a set of guidelines and feel like your creative tank is empty.  This feeling often comes from not having something new or interesting to say about the topic.  Exercise #1: Sparking Inspiration and Exercise #2: Getting Started typically work for me if I am excited about the idea. If I feel completely useless or lost on a topic, I start to consider the mashup method.  What’s a mashup?

This is a musical mashup.  Hmmm….Darren Criss and Matt Bomer together.  The pretty hurts my eyes.

A mashup is when you blend two or more unique styles or genres to create something new and different.

peunutAh crap, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter!  Wait a minute!

This exercise requires that you have completed the following Creative Writing Exercises:

Objective: Spark your imagination for your assignment by creating a mashup with your topic and a harmonious but different genre or style.


  1. Review the material generated from the previous exercises and select a common theme/genre that excites you.
  2. Set the timer for 5 minutes and trying to write out as many different theme/genres as you possibility can and don’t worry about connecting to your target.
  3. Compare and contrast your two lists and see if you have discovered a unique combination.
  4. Explore different combinations by giving yourself 10 minutes on the timer and listing out all of the things the two genres have in common.


I used this method to write Whispers to the Moon Are Always Heard by Cats.  It was later published first published in Write Lovecraft Like Gaiman (Jersey Devil Press, July 2013). The goal of the assignment was to try writing a Lovecraft story in the style of Neil Gaiman.  How could I resist trying out the tools of my favorite writer. I created a number of lists of using Exercise #1: Sparking Inspiration and then realized that I wanted to mashup Fairy Tales and Lovecraft for this assignment.

catsMeow, bitches!

The story crystallized when I realized that Fairy Tales and Lovecraft both have a great love of cats.  And thus, I wrote a story that was a mashup of Puss in Boots and the Cats of Ulthar.


I enjoy trying out mashups to define genre expectations.  This style of writing has become much more popular in recent years. Do you love hard-boiled detective stories and love Lovecraft?  Try True Detective. Do you love westerns and space operas?  Try Firefly. Did you enjoy this exercise?  Trying another one on the Creative Writing Exercises page. If you would like to read “Whispers to the Moon Are Always Heard by Cats” or some of my other mashup fiction, then I’d recommend checking out the following megapack. whispers Whispers to The Moon Are Always Heard By Cats: A Collection of Modern Fairy Tales Corporations bowdlerized the old fairy tales to make them suitable for mass consumption. Whispers to the Moon Are Always Heard By Cats is a collection of dark fantasy fiction stories by Jason Andrew that explore the shadows in those old tales to see what relevance they hold in modern days and nights. 

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