I’m a nerd. My kids are nerds. My wife is a nerd (that’s a compliment, honey). What this means is we often get gifts that are intellectually stimulating (along with the occasionally absurd varieties).
Two of the games we have on our shelf tend to spur a lot of creativity in our house. First, there are Rory’s Story Cubes. Rory’s Story Cubes are a set of dice that have pictures on them. You roll the dice and then make up a story based on the pictures that come up. As far as I know, they have three sets: Original, Voyages, and Actions. Each set of dice can be used individually or together to build wild stories that are generated by the random rolls. It is a pocket-sized game, so it is easy to bring along with you wherever you go. When you want to make up a quick story, whip out the Cubes, roll them out and start writing! I find these to be a lot of fun with friends or kids and they can really kick start the creativity if you just want to write something fun or different.
Another game we have received is called You’ve Been Sentenced. In You’ve Been Sentenced, players select a hand of 10 pentagonal cards from the deck. Each card has various conjugations of a base word. There are nouns, verbs, adjectives, indefinite articles, proper names — everything you’d need to write complete, grammatically correct sentences. The goal of the game is to build the longest sentence you can (again, properly formed, grammatically correct). When a player has achieved what they believe is their best sentence, they set a timer and the other players have until the time runs out to complete their own. Any player in the game is allowed to argue that your sentence is improper or grammatically incorrect or just doesn’t make sense…then you both defend opinions to the rest of the players (The Jury). The sentences that result from this are often quite hilarious, on their own, but as you can imagine, the arguments against or in defense of a given sentence are often even more hilarious. We have had games where in defense of a sentence we’ve spun up entire tales explaining back story and side details about the character(s) within it. Other times, I have attempted to make each of my sentences (each hand of cards) be part of a single storytelling universe- as you might imagine, this is not easy to do with a random set of words every few minutes.
I’m sure there are many other games out there that can provide similar creative sparks. I have a box on the table next to me that is called the “Writer’s Toolbox”. In it there are flash cards and popsicle sticks that have words, phrases and ideas written on them. There are also spinners with different words on them. Selecting a card or stick from the various piles or spinning the word wheel provides different ideas and story arcs. Similarly, I’ve taken a standard dictionary, closed my eyes, opened to a random page and dropped my finger onto a word… do it a couple times and then use those words to build a story. (In fact, my wife and I used to do this together… we’d select words, write stories and then compare the results — I told you we’re both nerds…).
In the end, I look at any and all opportunities to find creativity. Games, prompts and other idea generators are great tools, but ultimately they can just be a means of kick starting the creativity that is already there. Do you know of any other games similar to these which you use as a means of generating ideas? Share them in the comments!
NOTE: I am not trying to sell these games, but if you are interested in learning more, I’ve provided links to them on Amazon: