The Evening of Experimental Writing Prompts: Story Cubes

Years ago, my sister was gifted two boxes of Story Cubes, and I’ve only just managed to “borrow” (steal) them for playing with.  She has the original Story Cubes set (black cubes) and the Actions set (blue cubes).

There are lots of different ways of playing with the cubes (including with multiple players), but I’ve chosen the very basic version of the game: three cubes each for the beginning, middle and end of the story.

So, let’s play!

I merged both sets and rolled the dice one at a time.  This is the order they appeared in (starting at the top, left to right):

The point of Story Cubes is that there is no one definition for each image – they are to be interpreted freely.  Bearing that in mind, here’s my response to the cubes (I’ve highlighted the words that tie in with the pictures):

The boy peered into the room, unable to hide the concern on his face.  His sister was working out again.  Kyle should have been thrilled; their father had been nagging for years for her to get fit, and all of a sudden, overnight almost, Daisy had joined the gym and changed her eating habits.  Lifting weights in the spare room was the latest addition to her new rigorous timetable.  Their father was pleased, of course, and was quick to brush off any worries he had expressed, but Kyle knew his sister better than that.  Shaking his head, he backed quietly out the room and closed the door behind him.

Kyle had sensed a change in his sister – a change beyond her sudden enthusiasm for keep-fit – but he just couldn’t put his finger on the root of it.  The next day, while Daisy was at work, he crept into her bedroom, searching for clues.  Being the younger brother, even though he was now a man, most of his experiences of being in Daisy’s room were her screaming at him to get out.  This feeling stayed with him as he glanced around for information, his guilty conscience making him feel like a tresspasser.  He looked over her dressing table, scanned her desk and finally thought to check under her bed before leaving.  As he crouched down, not expecting to find anything, a small blue box caught his eye.  Cautiously, as though it might contain explosives, he reached into the shadows beneath the bed frame and pulled the box out into the light.  It seemed to fit neatly into the palm of his hand, and he knew what it contained before he even prised it over, the sparkling jewel a confirmation of his fears.  He was alarmed at the discovery of the small box, and sadness washed over him.  He understood it now – Daisy’s strange mood, her anxiety over her weight.  It had been barely twelve months since that tragic day; their father was still mourning the loss, and Kyle could see how his sister’s secrecy had been to protect him.  He knew she’d want to wear their mother’s wedding dress for her special day, but even announcing the engagement would be a big step for the family.  Still, Kyle was surprised by all this.  He’d just figured they’d all cross that bridge when they got to it; he never thought it would affect her this much.

That evening, Kyle had managed to persuade a reluctant Daisy to accompany him to the supermarket.  He needed to get her out of the house; perhaps a change of environment would encourage her to open up to him.

“Talk to me,” Kyle said, when her silence became too much for him.  He reached out to touch her shoulder but she flinched away.  She dropped some apples into the trolley, avoiding his gaze, turning back to the fruit on display so he couldn’t see her expression.  Kyle sighed, continuing to push the trolley up the aisle.  

“I can’t force you,” he added, “but I’ll be here when you are ready to talk.”  Hearing these words, Daisy’s face creased and she finally began to cry.  Kyle glanced nervously at a couple who looked over with quiet concern, but he shook his head at them and waved them off.  Then, he wrapped his arms around Daisy and held her tightly, hoping she couldn’t feel his heart breaking in his chest.

Phew, that was a nerve-racking experience!  I really felt my imagination was challenged, particularly having those two action cubes together at the beginning.  In some ways I felt the cubes were restrictive, as at times I wanted to elaborate much more on certain points, but always felt that I was keeping my eye on the next cube at all times.  In terms of inspiring a story, it was a huge success – even if I had used the cubes loosely as a starting point, I was amazed at how easy it was to build a plot from a few pictures!

For anyone wanting more information on Story Cubes, check out their website.  They are also available to buy on The Book Depository (link leads to the Original set: the black cubes in the photo above).

What story would you have made from these cubes?  Comment below!

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