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7-Line Story


Explore building a story as a collective team, in real-time, with limited (or no) preparation.

Level of Difficulty:



Group game (2+)


Start by standing in a loose circle. Going clockwise, each person will state a single sentence starting with a particular word, in order. Each sentence is started by the next person in line, and each person says only one sentence.

The words to use are:

  • Once…
  • Who…
  • They…
  • When suddenly…
  • So…
  • And finally…
  • To realize…

The goal is to build one complete story build from the seven component parts, each one added by a different person. If you have fewer than seven people, simply continue in the circle until the seven sentences are complete.

Don’t worry about asking for a starting prompt, the story will build out of the natural evolution of each person’s contribution. For instance a story might unfold as follows:

  • Once there was a man from Florida.
  • Who really wanted to learn how to surf.
  • They went to Australia to get lessons from the best in the business.
  • When suddenly, they realized they were afraid of the ocean.
  • So instead they booked a tour to see the wild life.
  • And finally they jumped into a lake, which isn’t the ocean, to cool off.
  • To realize that the best part wasn’t the surfing, but the journey itself.

This is admittedly a pretty cheese story. But it follows a classic hero’s journey. And by sharing the responsibility of crafting the story across the entire team, no one-individual is responsible for the entire creation and no one-individual needs to feel the pressure to accomplish the entire task.

Practical Application:

It is not uncommon to present work we did not create. Maybe we are a team lead presenting on behalf of a colleague. Or maybe we are invited to a presentation last minute with limited time to be read-into the problem statement.

How can we leverage a hero’s journey, active listening, and our improvisational skills to tell a complete narrative?

How can we support one another in presentations to provide added dialogue and value, knowing that our colleagues have our back and will provide the next part of the story as we tell it?

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