Say “Yes, and…”

Moonday Madness

a blog for writers

Every September the Colorado Romance Writers host their fabulous retreat for those members who are lucky enough to attend. Last year we had several amazing workshops, one with Liz Pelletier from Entangled (read about it HERE), and one with Margie Lawson (read about it HERE). This year our retreat workshops were hosted by members who maybe are not so famous. One of those was….me!

Kickstart Your Writing with Improv, was the one-hour workshop that I created for the retreat, we played silly improv games, learned about Harolds (a type of character that helps improve roll along smoothly), and we learned to say “Yes, and…”. Of all the skills we practiced I believe the most important is the ability to say “Yes, and…”. In improv, when you are interacting with your fellow cast mates, you need to say “yes” to whatever crazy scenario they throw at you. When you say “yes” you enable your partner to keep rolling with their imagination, and when they say “yes” to your crazy lines, they enable you to roll on with your imagination. Saying “no” stops all that. It puts a halt to you’re ability to create.

When you are brainstorming for your story saying “Yes, and…” is essential to letting your imagination run wild. And when you let your imagination run free you let your writing go to places you never would in real life. Would you create a character with blue ears if you didn’t say “Yes, and…” ? And if we are going to say “yes” to the blue ears, what about saying something else like her name is Bathusda and she is  being exalted by the media for her blue ears?

Why not?

There is no risk when you say “Yes, and…” in brainstorming. No one sees it, no one tells you no, no one will say that you are ridiculous for even thinking about it. And you might just come up with a stellar idea. Like say, sparkly vampires? Or a twelve year old boy who is going to save the world. Or a Red Riding Hood who is also a were-wolf. You just don’t know unless you say, “YES!”

When have you let your imagination run wild? Did you come up with something you would never write?


Filed under Moonday mania, Writer's Journey, writing craft

11 responses to “Say “Yes, and…”

  1. Hi Jessica! Congrats on doing a workshop at the conference. I would love that. And I’d love to have been there. You just keep moving ahead and moving ahead. And your idea about letting the imagination go reminds me of improv I’ve seen. I didn’t know “yes, and” was a tenet of that but have certainly seen Wayne Brady use that in sketches on tv. I love how you’ve adapted the technique for writing. Way to go!

    • I doubt I’m the first to adapt it to writing, but it was a fun workshop. I usually work with children, so I made my fellow retreat peeps play improv games to loosen up. Nice change of pace at a writing retreat where almost everything is a sit-at-your-computer event. My brother helped me put the workshop together, he is not only an improv actor, he’s written scripts and is also going to school for creative writing at CU in Boulder. It was pretty fun!

  2. Good morning, Jessica! OH how I wish I could have attended that retreat. I’ll bet you rocked the workshop. Margie Lawson did one of those session during IMC2 in Dallas, and we howled at some of the disconnects. I had a flying character in my non-paranormal. Who knew?

    I love the concept of “Yes, and…”. I never looked at my creative brainstorming that way. Thanks for the tip oh-wise-and-prolific-one.

  3. Great idea, Jessica! Wish I’d been there to participate. I’ve just returned from a meeting with my critique partners. One member has a new WIP, and it was interesting to see what ideas sparked as we discussed tension, back story, motivations.

    • There were some great brainstorming sessions at the Lodge, but I’m afraid I didn’t participate. Too busy trying to finish my edits. But I’m hoping to be in less of a time crunch next year and participate in more events. I did, however, have fun with the madlibs. Which were accomplished with much wine, by firelight. 🙂

  4. I haven’t a clue what my stories would be like without my brain-storming pals. They just keep pushing my envelope. And the laughs are something else, too. “Yes, and…” will be on the tip of my tongue at our next meeting. Thanks for a great idea.

  5. stlaurec

    Hey Jessica,

    I missed you while I was in Colorado. Glad to see you enjoyed the retreat! I might be back in October. Hope to see you then!

    • Hope you had a terrific time while you were out here and maybe we’ll be able to get together when you have a moment in October. It would be fun to hear how the book is going after your deep immersion experience.:)

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