33. One sentence stories

This game is very similar to one word stories although it is often easier to produce a story that makes some kind of sense. The first player is tasked with a suitable starting sentence: this is necessarily sensible, so ‘Once upon a time there was a girl called Dora’ ; ‘One day Mr Rabbit went to the bottom of his garden’; ‘I was out walking last week when I spotted a strange apparition’ etc.

Each player in turn makes up a sentence that follows on from the last, to build up a story. Meanwhile, one player is tasked with writing the story down as it unfurls. This can be good writing practice for children, although it will be too much for less able individuals and younger children Another useful skill is to learn to type: older children may prefer to type in the story on a laptop.

A good tip for both one sentence stories and one word stories is not to try and make the story funny. This is especially important for the adults who need to provide a steady as a rock storyline. Meanwhile, the children’s input will inevitably drag the story into the unknown, the nonsensical and the downright bizarre.

The game is less effective when players, adults particularly, try to subvert what is already a rocky narrative. In order for something to be subverted, it needs to be established and the danger is there is too little establishing before a story is pulled to pieces. You may think it hilarious to say ‘the rabbit lived in a bowl of soup’ or even ‘the rabbit was percolating in coffee’ or even ‘the rabbit nobody loves us better in custard’ but believe me, ‘the rabbit lived in a burrow’ is a much better option. Otherwise the overall effect is that players have to work incredibly hard to drag the narrative back to some sort of sense.

Not everyone can play the funny-man, boy woman or girl. The majority of players need to be the straight ‘guy’ (we use ‘guy’ as a gender neutral term) in order for the funny gags to work. And the funniest ones are often accidental.

A rule is not to read back beyond the last sentence if players have lost the plot. This game concludes when after a suitable period of time- 15-20 minutes perhaps, the story is read back by one of the player- the pay off.