Six trillion stories in the naked city
December 2, 2012 5:39 PM   Subscribe

Got writer's block? Cartoonist's block? Songwriter's block? Stuck for stocking stuffer? Storymatic to the rescue. It's a box of 500 cards, each of which supplies a few words of inspiration, created by a Brian Mooney, a teacher of creative writing. Storymatic Project: there are only two rules.
posted by beagle (19 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
Other card sources for ideas: tarot cards, Once Upon a Time.
posted by curious nu at 5:50 PM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

And if you're more visual: Oblique Strategies. The gorgeous physical deck. Free web version. Another one. iPhone app.
posted by maudlin at 6:02 PM on December 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

Oh definitely Tarot cards. The stories they can tell are amazing.
posted by Splunge at 6:02 PM on December 2, 2012

Also of course Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots. (via)
posted by yourcelf at 6:06 PM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also! Story Cubes + app, Story Dice app
posted by wemayfreeze at 6:08 PM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have this that my old English teacher gave me in high school as she was packing her things to move home: The Observation Deck
posted by deezil at 6:24 PM on December 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

Dang, I've got pay-pal-block
posted by mattoxic at 6:24 PM on December 2, 2012

2) You must not kill your main character.


I haven't seen anything like this in English except maybe 15,000 Useful Phrases, but here in Japan they sell a Naming Dictionary that's got a bunch of words organized by vocabulary in over ten languages (one of which is English).

Best inspiration machine I ever had, though, was a thick paperback from 1990 (it had the date in the title) filled with blurb-length movie reviews. Pick two or three blurbs, combine, and fill in the blanks.
posted by 23 at 6:25 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Probably to prevent cheating on Rule #1.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:27 PM on December 2, 2012

They can go mad though, right? MAAAAAAAAD! From the eldritch piping and hyperspacial geometry and humankinds cosmic insignificance, right?
posted by Artw at 6:28 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ah, they appear to mean kill off even though the rule says kill. Admittedly, killing them off is in poor taste, but see DOA or Ghost Trick for examples where killing people is a great way to inspire change.
posted by 23 at 6:30 PM on December 2, 2012

can anyone recommend an Android app along these lines? My 3-year-old daughter has been obsessed with making me make up stories lately, and my brain is starting to feel wrung-out. :)
posted by luvcraft at 9:19 PM on December 2, 2012

StoryCubes are really fun. One day my brother and I sat down for a drawing session and agreed to each draw robot based on whatever the dice showed us. We both used the exact same dice results but at the end of the session we had two drawings that were different in every way except for the fact that they were both robots:

his drawing was like this neo-noir abstract piece about a rogue AI hiding from the authorities underneath a laser skyline while mine was a scene of a hundred-year-old battlefield of discarded soldierbot carapaces that newly-primitive sheep herders were using for shelter.

It was a blast.

And the apps are fun but I think the physicality of a deck or some dice is even better.
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:59 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

curious nu: "Other card sources for ideas: tarot cards, Once Upon a Time."

Once Upon a Time was designed by MeFi's own James Wallis, who is me. The third edition has just been released (all-new art, slightly tweaked card-list and rules, bigger box) and next year the publisher is releasing a book about how to use the game as a writing aid.

My next game, Alas Vegas, uses a form of blackjack played with tarot cards as a way of creating narrative conflict scenes.

There's also Talecraft, another story-telling card system designed to defeat writer's block, which hails from the Philippines. I'm not personally a fan but it has some interesting ideas.

I have Plotto. Plotto is brain-hurty. I also have Rory's Story Cubes, which is so good that a knock-off just appeared in the UK. I'd call it a cheap knock-off except it's more expensive than the original.

As far as Storymatic goes, I'm not sure what $30 plus shipping is buying that's better than choosing six random words from a pocket dictionary.
posted by Hogshead at 4:11 AM on December 3, 2012 [6 favorites]

  • Dawn of Worlds[PDF] is a fantasy world building game that uses a point-buy system to resolve who gets to decide what happens on a particular landmass and when. The players are Gods.
  • Fiasco, "a game of powerful ambition and poor impulse control," is kind of a roleplaying game only there's no game master and if you find any treasure it will probably turn out to belong to a psychopath with an air gun. Basically it's all about encouraging players to make creatively stupid decisions.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:37 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

"As far as Storymatic goes, I'm not sure what $30 plus shipping is buying that's better than choosing six random words from a pocket dictionary."

For one, I'm ok with paying for words that are not necessarily random.

I'd rather write a story on an "eating contest" than on "zeugma potvaliancy".
posted by jeremias at 11:46 AM on December 3, 2012

That's why I use a pocket dictionary, jeremias. Fewer obscure words.
posted by Hogshead at 12:41 PM on December 3, 2012

Hi James! My wife and I still speak fondly of your Baron Munchaussen game, which is by far our favorite storytelling game and the closest thing to a tabletop RPG that she's willing to play.
posted by luvcraft at 7:46 PM on December 3, 2012

I blame this thread for my just buying Rory's Story Cubes: Voyages.
posted by Zed at 10:14 PM on December 3, 2012

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