How to make it all up: 7 exercises for imagination


How to make it all up: 7 exercises for imagination

Our brain is capricious. He generates thousands of ideas, then he gives out hackneyed clichés. The McLeod brothers – illustrator and animator Greg and screenwriter Miles – wrote the book “Create Your Own Universe”, which taught you how to create a swarm of sparkling ideas, write books, draw comics, come up with stories and scripts. Below are 7 techniques to quickly awaken your creativity.

But therefore

South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone shared their storytelling technique. Each next step in the development of the story must be connected with the previous words. “but” or “Consequently”… Thus, one action affects the other.

For instance: The female ostrich hid the egg, THAT’S the lion won’t be able to find it, BUT she forgot where she made the hiding place, THAT’S, she asked the snake to help find it, BUT suddenly she remembered that snakes also eat eggs.

Try to write a short story using the words “but” and “therefore” to connect.

See where this takes you.

Complete the story your way

Watch an unfamiliar episode of your favorite TV show or a new movie for a few minutes. As soon as the first significant plot twist occurs, turn off the video. Write down what happened to the characters in this passage. Now complete the plot yourself.

What do you think will happen next? When you’re done writing your version, watch the movie. How similar are both options? Or are they completely different? What do you like about your version and what about the original?

Do not write, but draw

When you need to write something, you can try not to write. And express the idea with the help of a drawing. Come up with a comic episode – sketch it or make a storyboard to outline the dynamic development of the plot. Fill in these three boxes with pictures: what will happen to the hero in each of them? If necessary, add three more windows and complete the story.


Hero profile

Once you’ve decided who will be the protagonist of your story, it’s time to think about your character. Concentrate on his image. See the gaps? Fill out the character’s questionnaire, which reveals all sides of his essence.


Add your questions. They can be ordinary, for example, “When was he born?”, Or more figurative: “What kind of animal would he like to become?” You can make up funny or completely stupid questions: “If he wore a cake on his head, what kind of cake would it be?”

This will help you get to know your character better.

Dear Diary

You can reveal the plot through the character’s diary. This is a special form of first-person storytelling.

The structure of the diary is very different from the classic script. But here a hero still appears, who fights against obstacles on the way to the realization of his dreams.


Try to continue the story yourself. Then use the “Two Diaries” technique. Imagine that there was an event that was witnessed by two completely different people. What was this event? Think about what and how they could write in their diaries about this incident.


Before you is a white piece of paper, and you do not know what to write on it? Take a book and choose a page at random. With your eyes closed, poke your finger into the text and see which word you hit. Write this word down, then two words before it, then two after it. Or choose five words at random. These will be your keywords, which are necessary to enable your imagination to work.

Start writing and don’t stop for five minutes.

Don’t think about what you are writing. Don’t worry if you’re doing well or not, or if it makes any sense. Just write. Write whatever comes to your mind.

When it can’t get any worse

The most dramatic moment in any story comes when, it would seem, it could not be worse, and suddenly … everything becomes even worse. This is the culmination: that turn of the plot, when the tree of life is cut down, the killer is declared innocent and released, and the lovers are separated. Think of the worst possible circumstances for the characters in the plots listed below.

The rich man is dying, he has only a week to live. He decides to donate all his wealth to charity, but …

The snowman has come to life and intends to discover the whole world. He made friends with a polar bear, but …

The coffee picker gets a new place on a large plantation. He falls in love with a plantation worker, but …

When you know in advance what the turning point in history will be, it is easier to set milestones in your work. It remains to be seen why things have gotten so bad and what events will follow this terrible moment.

Don’t listen to those who think all stories are told.

Even if your heroes are seven kids and a gray wolf, you can still tell the tale in your own way, dashingly twisting the plot and changing the style of narration. Although, perhaps, this idea is not new – I’ll go pump my imagination.

Source: Mann, Ivanov and Ferber

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