This exercise works on the shared process of building a story together. Everyone into a circle.
Each player in the circle contributes a word into the story. If the first person to speak says “Johnny” the next person could say, “set”, the next person would say “out”. And so on. This is the most commonly used of all the improv exercises and handles. It is also one of the most misused. There is more information about this exercise at the handle Word At A Time. The best way to help the players build stories is to try and keep them in the present tense. In improvisation present tense always works the best. The word at a time stories should also make sense. The players need to be listening to the story so far. Instead of offering the witty word that will make everyone laugh, they should add the next most logical word. This exercise takes control away from those players that tend to drive scenes. If you are finding that sentences are going on too long allow for any of the players in the circle to call out ‘period’ to end the sentence. Banning ‘and’ and ‘but’ are also good ways to keep people from prolonging things and leading to formed sentences.