Generative Storytelling with Different Perspectives
Generating a narrative that captures a meaningful place by scrambling individually written words and sentences related to that place into a collective prose or poetic story.
This is an exercise where visiting PIMDI master students ask the local upper secondary pupils to take them to a place that bears significant meaning for them. Arriving at the place the small pieces of paper were distributed among the participants. The master students participated in this exercise just like the pupils, but one of them as, facilitator, explained the steps of the exercise to the pupils. First step: the facilitator invited all the participants to write words or short sentences about this place — how they felt about this place, and what comes to their mind when encountering this place. One word or short phrase was to be written on each paper. When all the participants were done with the writing, the participants viewed together what the group had written.
Second step: the facilitator invited all the participants to create a new story/poem/text. Participants could add words at both ends or in between the papers and make new rules mutually, e.g., to allow changing the order instead of adding a word. One by one, participants take a paper and place it on the surface so that the words take on a new meaning; after each contribution, the new sentence is read out loud.
When all papers are in place, all participants collectively read the final text aloud in the normal order and backward.
Condition: facilitators are strangers to the place where they meet the participants
Max. 6 participants, min. 1 facilitator; facilitator(s) is (are) also participating
Preferably an outside space, chosen by participants, available within walking distance
A6 Papers (3 to 5 per participant, facilitators included) and (coloured) markers
Some horizontal surface to write on and to put the papers on, minimum ca. 1,5 x 1 m.
Timeframe: 60 minutes from gathering until evaluation
Participants: 6+ (as soon as you can read and write)
- Participants meet facilitator(s)
- Facilitators exchange with participants who and how they are
- Facilitators ask participants for a shared meaningful place: “What place, which as strangers we would not easily find here, and which is significant to you, should we visit? Can you take us there?”
- Participants bring facilitators to the chosen place.
- All sense (silently) the place for some time.
- Bring or find a horizontal surface to work on; give all people 3 to 5 papers and a pen.
- Invite people to write words or short sentences about the place on a small paper and join in a collective storytelling adventure: “What word or short phrase expresses how you feel about this place? Could you write the words or phrases that come to mind on a piece of paper?”
- Explain the ‘rules’: participants can add words at both ends or in between; participants can decide on new rules, e.g., to allow changing the order instead of adding a word.
- All participants, including facilitators that are new to the place, get 3 to 5 A6 papers and write words or short phrases related to the place.
- All scan all contributions.
- One by one, participants take a paper and place it on the surface so that the words take on a new meaning; after each contribution, the new sentence is read out loud.
- When all papers are in place, all participants collectively read the final text aloud in normal order and backward.
- Reflection: does the story cover the meaning of the place? Which one best covers the meaning of place: the normal sequence or the reverse order?
- Evaluate the practice together.
Principle: collective generative storytelling, by confronting differences new meaning is created
- you might give all people different coloured markers, so their individual contributions stand out
- if more time is available, you can go to different places chosen by individual participants and compare stories afterward
- you can do the (second) proposition in several small groups, comparing the stories afterward
Connection to PIMDI: imaginative language, and different perspectives add up to the story, creating new meaning and insights
Authors: Hanna Skår Dalen, Guðrún Hrund Harðardóttir and Carry Rosenblatt Limpens.