Thursday, March 16, 2017

Big, Bigger, Biggest by Naomi Kinsman

Earlier this month, Irene Latham wrote a fun post on the rule of threes (with her added twist of the +1) for writers. Many improv games are also built on this principle. I had always thought of them as simply relying on the rule of three, but when I think about it, many do include the element of +1.

One of my favorites is called Big, Bigger, Biggest. I play this game with my students, but also at my own writing desk as a mental exercise.

Here's how it goes:

1. You think of a moment in your story and you act it out (or imagine it out) "big." You're starting from a place of high energy.

2. Next, you play the same moment "bigger," by changing parts of the scenario to make it more extreme, more surprising, more humorous.

3. Finally, you play the moment "biggest." The fun of "biggest" is that it usually invites the players to go too far. You swap in something ridiculous, or you completely over exaggerate the character's reaction.

Here's the +1. After you have played these three scenarios, you create the moment on the page. Now, having considered the absurdly over-the-top option, you can dial it back and find what will work. Often, this kind of thinking leads to a creative idea that lands somewhere between bigger and biggest, with a fun, surprising twist.

I hope this game adds spontaneity and fresh energy to your writing sessions or your classroom this month. Enjoy!

Naomi Kinsman is an author, educator and creativity strategist. She is the author of the FROM SADIE'S SKETCHBOOK series and recently collaborated with singer, Natalie Grant, on the GLIMMER GIRLS series. Naomi is also the founder and Executive Director of Society of Young Inklings, an organization that offers classes, mentorships and publishing opportunities for young authors ages 6-16. Society of Young Inklings utilizes WRITERLY PLAY, the improv-based teaching methodology that Naomi developed, as the foundation for its programming.


  1. LOVE this idea Naomi. Have you used it in your WIP?

  2. I really like this idea--I think it could be especially helpful when I hit the dreaded middle of a manuscript.

  3. I love this! I'm going to try it!

  4. Yes, I love using this game in my work. One of the best things about weekly classes with students is that I am challenged to play, too. If you all played, let me know! I'd love to hear the results.