The best improv and writing tool ever

Are you stuck for ideas for your scenes and stories? Want a tool to help you start now, with no thinking required? Want to instantly find a character, activity, situation and sense of urgency?

This might be the tool for you!

In my opinion it is the best improv and writing tool ever.

I found it by accident while improv-swotting for the Wurzburg Improv Festival. I haven’t improvised for a while, so was searching for a way to practice by myself, before I meet other improvisers and ruin their lives.

After reading a wonderful article on improv by Dan Goldstein, I was inspired by the idea of starting scenes with an ATTITUDE, and an ACTIVITY on a SPECIAL DAY.

Then I remembered the fantastic Brainstormer App! Simply input three lists and they will display on three spinning wheels. Spin each wheel and receive a unique random scene-starter!


Here are some of the lists I used:

Mischievous, depressed, angry, jealous, moaning, virtuous, vain, suspicious, confused, elated, drunk, grieving…

Dancing, hiding, tickling, writing, drinking, polishing, practising, copying, stretching, jogging…

Olympic final, anniversary of Hitler’s death, our wedding day, the day I admit I love your brother, your birthday, grandma’s 100th birthday, driving test, the day I get knighted…

So a random combination could be:

…which prompted this scene: the Saudi Arabian team have entered us at short notice into the Diving Finals. We have never dived before! So I put on a video of Tom Daley and we watch and figure out how to dive like a champion!

I tried combination after combination and really enjoyed creating an entrance and first line for the scene it prompted. It also occurred to me how awesome a tool this was for writer’s block or for story generation.

You can make your own categories and lists using the Brainstormer App. If you don’t have a smartphone or iPad, make cards, or simply print your lists, close your eyes and point!

Well happy storytelling, folks!

Let’s see if this simple tool makes us better writers and improvisers : )

Our party

If we threw a party and the whole world was there
Who’d bring the drinks? And what would you wear?
And what would the soundtrack to this party be?
Cos I’d ask the DJ for some Bob Marley.

One love, one heart –
Would we sit together, or would we sit apart?
Would bodyguards stop me and you from conversing?
Could we mingle freely, no soldiers dispersing?

Would there be enough chairs? Or would some of us stand?
Would poor folks be eating at your table grand?
Would there be fences round different cliques?
Would riff-raff be here, and there VIPs?

Would we all get fed, or would some be deprived?
You drool and go hungry, while my third course arrives;
Would you spill the wine and splash out with the water,
While you beg for one cup, for one drop, for your daughter?

And could you sit there at this party and see
Some treated so well, so elegantly,
While others were kicked, and laughed at and scorned
By the very same waiters you beckoned and called?

This is one world, one life, one party
But apartheid and poverty part us, you see.
But I know in my heart, if I were the host,
I’d want everyone there, to share and to toast.

I’d build a campfire for the world to sit round –
Seven billion people would make such a sound!
With our voices and flutes and our drums and guitars,
We’d wake up the universe; shake up the stars!

We’d bring odds and ends and make decorations,
People helping and talking cross all generations
And races and colours and cultures and creeds;
And I think there we’d find what our souls truly need.

When you and another agree not to fight
In your hearts you’re both writing each other’s invite,
‘Cos the party won’t start by changing their minds,
It’s in how I treat you that we change mankind.

Lyndi Smith, April 2011


Listen to mp3 version of me reading Our Party