Monday, September 12, 2011

On Writing: The Muse Cubed

    “These cubes are magical,” one of my students said in second-block creative writing today.  I might not go that far, but I will admit that Rory’s Story Cubes, a product of The Creativity Hub, are pretty cool. 

     It’s a simple idea: take nine six-sided dice, and adorn each face with a different graphic. Shake ‘em, roll ‘em, then see what kind of story you and your muse can create from the images you get.
     Let’s see, today I got a key, a clock, a footprint, a rainbow, a kid with a scary shadow, a flower, an abacus, a cane and a plane … I could take the images literally and plot a tale that involves an over-the rainbow quest for a magic flower required to defeat a scary monster, or I can go symbolically and write a story about a bookie who escapes pursuit and comes to peace by dropping out of sight and becoming a farmer. Either story writes itself.
   With nine cubes and six faces, there are a total of 54 images to work with. I didn’t do the math, but Rory claims there are about 10 million possible combos.  I purchased two Cube sets at one of my MFAretreats, intending to use them for my day job, and promptly got a bunch of adult writers hunkered down to play. We gathered in a circle, pen and pad in hand, and rolled the Cubes. Fifteen minutes later, we shared the results.  It was great fun and resulted in wildly different stories.

      For the most part, I use the Cubes to get my students past writer’s blog but I’ve been known to use them to prompt myself. They make a satisfying sound as they roll, making me feel like I’m casting the bones. My brain does the work, but the Cubes gives me story points to draw connections among.
     There’s also an iPhone app.


  1. I dig the cubes. We had a fun little session at the MVG last year. Up for a rematch?

  2. Always. You bring the paper; I have Cubes and pencils.

  3. Wonderful! I've not heard of these, thank you! And I do like the idea of 'casting bones' - what a delightful sound they would make.

  4. First I've heard of 'em too. We do make lists (nouns verbs places emotions etc) & tear them up to divide amongst ourselves & try to compose short stories - but I guess that's the stone age version. Seem fun.


  5. Love these. I've used them a few times myself for a little writer's pick-me-up. Great comparison to casting the bones.