Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters: The Insert Game

Storytelling games help develop useful qualities in the storyteller. Quickness of mind; the power of a single word to change a story’s mood and direction; the fun of the unexpected – all these are exercised when you get going.

Some games are great for groups. More on that next week. Some can be like solitaire – good for playing on your own or maybe with one other. Hence this week’s item, The Insert Game.

I’ve only ever shared The Insert Game with friends before. The example I’ve created for this week’s blog involves a cat. (Not surprising since I love cats!) So my illustrations today are also of cats – one I spotted on a Pembrokeshire roof, the neighbours’ slinky gray, our own lovely black cat Minky and an exotic Brixton stray cat which we refer to as Big Balls (because that’s what he has).

The Insert Game: Background

I quite literally developed this game in a dream. I suppose the dream must have arisen from the editing side of my life : over the years, I’ve edited quite a lot of stories as well as Society for Storytelling publications. Ever since I dreamed the game in my sleep, I’ve turned to it awake from time time. Usually I doodle at it on my own for just ten minutes or so. Sometimes I introduce it to a friend and we have a bit of a laugh until, after a bit, we get bored and do something else.

What you need:

Largish sheets of paper are useful, plain or lined it doesn’t matter, plus a few pencils or pens. Some different coloured pens, one colour each, might be an advantage if you’re playing with friends.

The general idea:

An Insert Mark is what an editor marks onto a script at any point in the text where new words are to be inserted. A slash mark is then placed in the margin alongside the place where the new words are to go. When I learned proof-reading, the Insert Mark I was taught looked a bit like an upside down Y. Nowadays I think an upside-down V is more common. In my example below I use slash marks and inserted words are in red.

What you do:

The game starts with one short sentence. Try whatever sentence you want. I often choose the one I’m using today: The cat sat on the mat. Then you start inserting. Add one word or several, a little phrase or even a whole new sentence into your original sentence. But as you proceed it’s a rule that the very first word of that original sentence has to stay as the first word. And the last word has got to stay as the last word too. In between, anything goes. And, of course, you’re allowed (and encouraged) to insert into your inserts!

Example:

The cat sat on the mat.

The /pampered/ cat sat on the mat.

The pampered cat /with the long white whiskers/ sat on the mat.

The pampered cat with the long white whiskers sat on the /flower-patterned/ mat.

The pampered cat with the long white whiskers sat /dreaming of freedom/ on the flower-patterned mat.

The pampered cat with the long white whiskers / and the perfumed tail / sat dreaming of freedom on the flower-patterned mat.

The pampered cat with the long white whiskers and the perfumed tail sat dreaming of freedom, / blissfully unaware that danger was about to strike even as it still sat / on the flower-patterned mat.

The pampered cat with the long white whiskers and the perfumed tail sat dreaming of freedom, blissfully unaware that danger / in the form of a lion / was about to strike even as it still sat on the flower-patterned mat.

The pampered cat with the long white whiskers and the perfumed tail sat dreaming of freedom, blissfully unaware that danger in the form of a / hungry / lion was about to strike even as it still sat on the flower-patterned mat.

The pampered cat with the long white whiskers and the perfumed tail sat dreaming of freedom, blissfully unaware that danger in the form of a hungry lion was about to strike / just minutes from now / even as it still sat on the flower-patterned mat.

The pampered cat with the long white whiskers and the perfumed tail sat dreaming of freedom, blissfully unaware that danger in the form of a hungry lion was about to strike just minutes from now / after its dream had made it arise off the conservatory floor and sail through the air and over the seas, landing with a bump in the middle of a deep dark forest / even as it still sat on the flower-patterned mat.

The pampered cat with the long white whiskers and the perfumed tail sat dreaming of freedom, blissfully unaware that danger in the form of a hungry lion was going to strike just minutes from now after its dream had made it arise off the conservatory floor and sail through the air and over the seas, landing with a bump in the middle of a deep dark forest while it still sat / -MIAOW! MIAOW!¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬- ¬ / on the flower-patterned mat.

Next Week: Desert Island

Links: You can also read occasional blogs by me on the Early Learning HQ website.  Early Learning HQ offers hundreds of free downloadable foundation stage and key stage one teaching resources. It also has an extensive blog section with contributions from a wide range of early years professionals, consultants and storytellers. For details of the Society for Storytelling, click here

 

 

 

 

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