Games of Story



This is the start of a game.

It works like this: First you will need make up a sentence. Don’t think it over. Nothing deliberate. Let one pop in your head. Sudden. Unknown, like the roll of dice.

Get your sentence and play with it. Now you will think it over. Repeat it until you understand it. Question it. What is it? What does it say? Does it mean anything? Can it mean anything? Where can it go? Do this because that is the goal of the game. To win, so to speak, is to come up with three different stories that start with this sentence. This is a game I play in the car. Passes the time and no one knows I’m doing it. Mental flow fights fatigue.

This morning my sentence was, “We are the same man.”

Here are my three stories. Nothing fancy. A simple trio of ideas to fill long stretches of blank time.


“We are the same man. A conglomerate of moving parts, all of us, each department a muscled limb. Together we are the company in whole. If one of us is missing the String Leaf Corporation is not whole.”

This could be start of a short story about a man who works for a huge corporation. He’s a company man and through the journey he’s about to take he learns that he and the other employees are not in fact the same man but individuals. He will break free and release those that have followed him into volunteer corporate slavery. Eh, not impressive but it works. I’ll count this as a “1” in the win column.


“We are the same man. Our voices might blend together, but I assure you – there is more than just me in here.”

Science fiction, with a dab of horror. A schizophrenic who is in control of his alter egos. He can choose which one comes out to the face the world. The story? Not sure, but hey, it’s got a decent start. Count it, “2.”


“ ‘We are the same man.’

He stood at the window, motionless. I did something I had grown accustomed to around him. I held my breath.

‘Go to the bank. Withdrawal enough money to pay the staff then return.’

‘Did you want me to get you a girl?’

‘The same one as last time will do. She was quiet.’ “

An agoraphobic rich man hires a young assistant to act as his liaison to the outside world. The young assistant also has the task of picking up prostitutes and bringing them back to the house. A love triangle between the rich agoraphobic man, the prostitute, and the young assistant. The rich man will try and buy her, the assistant will try and woo her, but in the end the prostitute finally gets the rich man out of  his locked castle and the young assistant will now have the experience to move on to greater things. Romance story? Something like that. Whatever. I’ll call that “3” and there it is. I won the game!

These scenarios all exist, most likely, somewhere in books or movies but you can’t worry too much about trying to avoid cliche or trite story lines. Well, you can worry a little bit.

It’s a fun game. Definitely beats slug bug or I Spy in terms of car games at least.  I’m sure if you looked in “How-To” books you will probably see some variation of this, but it’ll be called an exercise. I prefer to call it a game. Games are fun. Exercise? That’s just a pain in the ass.



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