8 Great Storytelling Exercises (For Awakening Creativity)

Storytelling Exercises - featured image

Creative storytellers don’t always overflow with brilliantly mind-blowing ideas.

Whether they’re writers, painters, musicians, or business owners, creative people need to exercise their brains – just like a muscle.

The more you practice coming up with fresh ideas, the better you get at it.

Most artists go through hundreds of awful ideas before they reach their breakthrough.

Just like lifters get better at lifting. The more they lift, you’ll get better at writing stories the more you do it. Here are a few exercises that’ll set you on the right path to creative genius!


Storytelling Exercises Worth Practicing

1. Use Writing Prompts

For many writers, coming up with story ideas is one of the hardest parts when it comes to exercising creative writing.

The simplest solution – find that creative spark with a story prompt.

Writing prompts are helpful little tools. They’re essentially story ideas that give you very basic information on the setting, characters, or plot.

Sometimes, writing prompts only give you a path to reach the story title, or give you an inkling of your own unique idea. They come in many forms, and can even be randomly generated.

A writing prompt doesn’t determine the story for you – instead, it contains just enough information to get you going.

what is your story

Race against the clock

The best way to write with a prompt is to give yourself a time limit. There’s something quite liberating about time-bound writing – it doesn’t allow you to second-guess every little detail, you just have to keep writing to make it in time.

A fun way to enjoy writing prompts is to find and post them on Reddit. There, you get to receive feedback and read the stuff other writers came up with for that particular prompt.


2. Use The Story Spine Technique

Created by the improvisational theater coach Kenn Adams, and popularized by Pixar’s storyboard artist Emma Coats, story spine is a helpful exercise that gives you a framework for your story.

This 8-sentence storytelling exercise utilizes a simple structure that most great stories are built upon.

Kenn gives you eight sentence starters, and your job is to say the starter and improvise the rest. This exercise was designed for improv, but it can easily be utilized by writers too.

Combine the story spine with a writing prompt if you don’t know what to write about!


3. Practice People Watching

To create believable characters, you need to know real people and their behaviors.

The best way to get creative with character creation is to base your work around real people. People-watching is a perfect activity for creative character building.

If you’ve read Sherlock Holmes, you probably remember the protagonist’s amazing skill: he just takes a few glances at a person, and he instantly deduces particular details about them.

He figures out a person’s profession by looking at their hands or shoes, or their marital status from the way they dress and walk.

When observing people, your goal is to become like Sherlock – but it doesn’t matter how accurate or fictional your speculations are. Here’s how it’s done:

You can do this activity alone, but it’s more fun with a friend.

people crossing

4. Critique Other Stories You Come In Contact With

Understanding exactly what you like and dislike in stories will make you an overall better storyteller.

To do this, you need to watch, listen, or read a story first, and then analyze it. The format doesn’t matter – but it’s best to write it down or say it out loud.

Giving critique is a great way to force your brain to analyze particular elements, style choices, story arc, character motives, and much more.

In the end, you’ll come out knowing a bit more about yourself and your tastes.


5. Look For Daily Stories Worth Telling

Many great writers derive plot ideas from things that happen in their lives.

To help you write real-life-driven plots, make journaling a habit. Only a few minutes a day will suffice. Each day, sit down and write down anything interesting that happened to you that day.

It doesn’t need to be a big, life-changing experience. You can write about a small delight of eating a pancake, a great joke your friend made, your thoughts about popular culture, or the circumstances that led to you missing a bus.

Every single day contains moments worth writing about. By doing so each day, you’ll quickly create a thick journal full of interesting moments that you can use to enrich your storytelling.


6. Get Creative On Zoom

Zoom is another improv theater technique that can be an amazing storytelling exercise if you have a partner to work with.

It’s a helpful tool that teaches you when to add and when to cut back on detail.


7. Play The Fortunately – Unfortunately Game

If you have a storytelling group, give this exercise a go!

*It works best with an odd number of members.*

friends talking

8. Form a Line

If you have a group of storytellers around you, you can all collaborate to make a single story.



Awakening creativity is rarely accomplished by waiting for your muse’s gentle whisper on a rainy night when you’re slightly inebriated (although that’s a good place to start).

Quite to the contrary, becoming a great storyteller is all about practice, repetition, and exposure to great prose or even cinema and TV.

Please put yourself out there, take a risk of exposing your ideas to others, and put the ideas laid out in this article into action.

Your artistic conscience is going to thank you for it. Peace.

Rafal Reyzer

Hey there, welcome to my blog! I'm a full-time blogger, educator, digital marketer, freelance writer, editor and content manager with 10+ years of experience. I started RafalReyzer.com to provide you with great tools and strategies you can use to achieve freedom from 9 to 5 through online creativity. My site is a one-stop-shop for freelance writers, bloggers, publishers, content enthusiasts who want to be independent, earn more money and create beautiful things. Feel free to learn more about me here.