Improv Games: One Sentence Stories

“One Sentence Story” is a simple improv game where you and a partner will work together to build a story, each contributing one sentence at a time. Unlike some other improv story-telling games, this one allows you to contribute more than you ordinarily would (a full sentence instead of just a word or two). As you’ll see when you play it, this could be a good thing or a bad thing…

Purpose

To practice communicating, listening, and building off other people’s ideas.

Summary

In this game you will tell a story with partners, each contributing one sentence at a time.

How to Play

In this game you and your partners (anywhere from one to twenty), will tell a story together. You will each contribute one sentence at a time. The first person will say the first sentence in the story—whatever they want. The next person in line will say the next line in the story, and on down the line. Each person may only speak one sentence.

Improv Tips and Things to Remember

In this game you have to listen to the person before you so that you know where the story is at. In this exercise, when you say your sentence, you must build off something the person before you had said. You may find yourself thinking ahead so that when the sentence comes to you, you ignore the person before you and move the story on where you want it to go. The best conversations are when people build the conversation together—this is how this story games works too, when you are building it together with your partners.

This is also an exercise in communication. You need to speak clearly in terms of volume and tone so that the next person hears you, otherwise they won’t be able to build off your idea. You also need to be able to convey whatever you want to happen with the story in one sentence. Sometimes without the ability to speak a full paragraph or babble on, you need to really crystallize your idea in one sentence. This is really another exercise in gathering your thoughts and speaking clearly and concisely.

Improv Lessons

How does this exercise feel to play? Did you find yourself really building off the person before you or did you find yourself thinking ahead to where you wanted the story to go? You could be introducing new elements that have nothing to do with the story so far. Were you communicating your ideas clearly? In this exercise you have to communicate your ideas clearly and quickly. You have to listen to what the person before you says and quickly think of what you want to add to the story and concisely say it in one sentence. Doing this exercise is really a nice way of practicing communication, creativity, and the ability to work with other people.

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