A person, a place and a problem: Make a deck of cards for building stories with these ingredients, and they will almost tell themselves.
Tell me more: After reading Matt Madden and Jessica Abel’s “Drawing Words and Writing Pictures” about strategies for making comics, we adapted their idea to make a list of people, objects and problems by making a deck of index cards color coded by people, places and problems. This deck, used in any number of combinations – at random or deliberately assigned; with only one card of each type or multiple; with the option to trade back a combination that doesn’t quite make sense or with the requirement to make it work anyway – has inspired many of our stories for years.
Classroom applications: We’ve used this deck of cards in classes ranging from comics to film making to design. Both younger and older students can find joy and inspiration in making silly and serious combinations. The cards are also helpful in building personas that might be used as clients in a design challenge, characters in a play, or as inspiration for puppets in an art class. It’s also an important opportunity to address stereotypes and bias at all grade levels by asking questions about what assumptions students make about the gender of a pilot, for example.
- We prepared a PDF of cards including story sparks, places, people, personality traits, and objects, available here. These can be photocopied on color-coded paper, cut up and shuffled.
- Find a complete list in Matt Madden and Jessica Abel’s excellent “Drawing Words and Writing Pictures.”