So two weeks ago we launched our new game Elevator Pitch! It’s a hilarious party game of film cliches and cliched films. It’s ALSO a full RPG about genre-busting cops who bust genre crimes! Two games for the low price of twenty five dollars.
And it’s so much more. The cards are a writing tool, a creative prompt for writers of any kind, be they GMs, authors, film makers or comic crafters. Whatever you write, however you write, Elevator Pitch can help. By sharpening your skills on random draws you can get better at understanding your storytelling instincts, and trusting them. Here are some fun exercises and ideas that you can play with the game:
In A, With A, While A: Draw a Character, a Scene and a Plot. Explain why the character is doing that thing in that place. Speculate on what happens next.
Unlikely Bedfellows: Draw two Characters. Describe their relationship: how do they know each other, or why are they drawn together? What will they do about it?
From Here to There: Draw two Scenes. Describe a plot point that might take characters from the first to the second. What would carry the scene forward while they travelled, if it wasn’t a jump ahead in time?
Three Act Story: Draw two Plots and an Ending. Lay out a three-act structure with the first plot as the first act, the second as the second act and the ending as the third. This also works with Character-Plot-Ending or Scene-Plot-Ending.
Genre Shift: Think of a film, book or TV show you enjoy. Then draw a Genre and try to re-imagine that story in the drawn Genre.
Three Important People: A great way to develop a character is to think of three people who changed their life. Draw three Characters for those three people. You can do this to develop a character already in mind, or with a blank slate and then build the character from those influences.
But Then!: Draw a Character, a Scene and a Plot. Work out a narrative that involves all three. Then draw a new Plot. Explain why this makes sense in the story (even if the audience never saw it coming). This is also fun to do in the middle of other stories. Wait for an ad break or chapter break, and draw a Plot card, and extrapolate. What if in the middle of Pride and Prejudice Lizzie and Jane became bitter rivals? Justify it, then take it forward!
The Chain: Use the rules of Then What Happens from the games section, but by yourself. Start telling a story with a random element from a random card, and keep drawing cards and going through the numbers. Generate a new element every few seconds, or whenever you take a breath. See how long you can go. See if you can turn it towards a satisfying end point, whether after five, ten or twenty cards.
Now, it’s so easy to say “but that doesn’t apply here!” when you draw a card. With the cards right in your hand, it is easy to discard an idea as being inappropriate or poorly fitting and just pull another. Resist this temptation! Sometimes the best stories come from the unpredictable and unexpected. Also, card concepts can be interpreted metaphorically and expansively, adjusted to fit other genres – and genres are more rubbery than they might appear. Don’t fight the strange – embrace it. Follow it. It goes somewhere important, powerful and wondrous.