by Marilyn Ludolph, Ed.D

An Exquisite Corpse is a type of progressive story game invented by Surrealist Andre Breton in the early twentieth century. To read more about the history of the Exquisite Corpse art form and how it is played, click here.

What You Need to Create an Exquisite Corpse
Paper, writing utensils, two or more people


  1. Gather a group of people, and sit in a circle or in a line so there is an order in which to pass around a piece of paper.
  2. Typically there are no guidelines regarding content, but your group may discuss and decide to choose a theme.
  3. Decide who is going to start.
  4. The first person to start (Author #1) writes a line (or several) of poetry or prose at the top of the page, then folds back the paper where the words are written to ensure no one else can read them. After folding the paper, Author #1 passes the paper to the next author.
  5. Author #2 repeats step 4.
  6. The group continues the story by passing the paper and writing as many sentences as desired and fit on the paper.
  7. Once finished, one person reads out loud the entire body of work the group has created.

For even more Exquisite Corpse fun, check out this article that provides instructions for creating an Exquisite Corpse Drawing Book. The instructions and illustrations make this game easy to do with kids.


Cullinan, B., & Galda, L. (2006). Literature and the Child. Canada: Thomson Wadsworth.

Dawson, E. (1997). Is It A Book? | Games | Exquisite |. Retrieved August 9, 2009, from

Exquisite corpse – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved August 9, 2009, from

© 2009 Marilyn Ludolph; The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance