Build A Story

By | April 21, 2019

Synonyms

Story Line Up.

Introduction

We will start with two players on opposite sides of the room.

Description

Build a Story is an exercise to help players explore the common elements of narrative. The exercise could focus on a particular narrative tool, like STEPS, however Build a Story works better if it is used to explore free form narrative.

The First Player, usually the one to the right, will speak a sentence that is considered the beginning of a story. Saying “once upon a time” would be acceptable for new players, but more experienced ones should be challenged to use anything else. The Second Player then speaks a sentence that ends a story. Saying “they lived happily ever after” should be challenged with experienced players. Another player will step in between the first two players and speaks a new sentence. This sentence should add something in between the beginning and the end of the story. The three players then speak their sentences in order and a Fourth Player joins in. The Fourth Player positions themselves in the line up and contributes another sentence. Depending on where the Fourth Player positions themselves would impact what is contributed to the story.

The purpose of this exercise is to practise building narrative. Story Line Up also deconstructs how a story must be told. This exercise shows that the elements of a narrative need not happen in order. The Setting may be realised with the Third Player. The Exploration may be introduced by the Sixth Player. This becomes a lesson in how an improvised story is built by accident, not necessarily in order. The leader and players may like to discuss each new sentence as it appears.  This can be a way to understand what the goal of the sentence was, allowing the group to explore narrative even deeper. Hopefully these discussions do not continue ad nauseum.

Example

  • First Player, “Leslie lived on the edge of town.” – 1
  • Second Player, “And that is how the chocolate filled haggis was invented.” – 2
  • Recap sentences.
    • “Leslie lived on the edge of town.” – 1
    • “And that is how the chocolate filled haggis was invented.” – 2
  • Third Player joins the line between First and Second players.
    • “The sheep danced for joy and Leslie smiled a smirky smile.” – 3
  • Recap sentences.
    • “Leslie lived on the edge of town.” -1
    • “The sheep danced for joy and Leslie smiled a smirky smile.” -3
    • “And that is how the chocolate filled haggis was invented.” -2
  • Fourth Player chooses to stand between the First and Third Players.
    • “Leslie used the sheep for milk not wool.” – 4
  • Recap sentences. Notice that the sentence order is different from the player order.
    • “Leslie lived on the edge of town.” – 1
    • “Leslie used the sheep for milk not wool.” – 4
    • “The sheep danced for joy and Leslie smiled a smirky smile.” – 3
    • “And that is how the chocolate filled haggis was invented.”- 2
  • Fifth Player chooses to stand between the Third and Second players.
    • “The goat milk chocolate was hidden in the haggis.” – 5
  • Recap sentences.
    • “Leslie lived on the edge of town.” – 1
    • “Leslie used the sheep for milk not wool.” – 4
    • “The sheep danced for joy and Leslie smiled a smirky smile.” – 3
    • “The goat milk chocolate was hidden in the haggis.” – 5
    • “And that is how the chocolate filled haggis was invented.” – 2
  • Sixth Player joins the line between the Third and Fifth Players.
    • “Goat milk chocolate was illegal in County Sheepshire.” – 6
  • Recap sentences.
    • “Leslie lived on the edge of town.” – 1
    • “Leslie used the sheep for milk not wool.” – 4
    • “The sheep danced for joy and Leslie smiled a smirky smile.” – 3
    • “Goat milk chocolate was illegal in County Sheepshire.” – 6
    • “The goat milk chocolate was hidden in the haggis.” – 5
    • “And that is how the chocolate filled haggis was invented.” – 2

This can be done with as many players as desired. Once more than 6 players are involved new players will need to use sentences that expand on parts of the story instead of adding sentences that advance the story. If many players are going to be used in this exercise it is good choice to review each new sentence.

Gimmicks

  • None.

Variations

  • Let players move sentences around to change the story.

Credits

  • Information appreciated.

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