Pink Trams and Picture Dice

In my class yesterday, I used my Rory’s Story Cubes® for a 4-minute writing exercise and it occurred to me that I’ve never told you about them!

They’re a set of 9 dice, with pictures on each face, so that’s 54 different images in total (I had to ask my OH to help me with that one. Come on – who can remember their 9 times table?!)

The idea is, that you take 4 or 5 of them out at random and roll them. Whatever pictures are uppermost, you have to include in a story. Have you ever used them?

I think they’re really intended for adults to use with children, to inspire bedtime stories but they’re handy as writing prompts too, especially if your imagination responds to visual prompts rather than words.

I’ve just rolled them to give you an idea of what might come up and we’ve got:

An apple, a crescent moon, a clock pointing to 4 o’clock and a sheep.

Or at least, that’s how I interpret them. If you see something different (like a toenail clipping – ugh, sorry – instead of a crescent moon, or a peach instead of an apple, that’s fine too).

There’s lots of information about them – there are different sets – on the website.

Daily Mail Novel Competition c/d 14th June 2019

If you’ve written a novel – or even part of a novel – then you might be interesting in the Daily Wail’s (4th!) Novel Writing competition.

It’s free to enter and you ‘only’ have to send them the first 3000 words, plus a 600 word synopsis (but if you win, you have to be prepared and able to submit the complete novel by January 2020).

I’m going to have a go. Not because I think I’ll win but because I read this and it encouraged me: “Even if you don’t win the competition, you might be signed up to write your novel anyway, as several previous runners-up have been. So, there’s absolutely no excuse not to have a go.”

It’s often about getting your work out there. If someone (ie: a literary agent – I don’t mean just a random person like a window cleaner) sees it and likes the idea or likes your style, well, who knows what might happen?

Have a go! Here are the details. And bear in mind, that I have ‘form’! What I mean by that is, the last person who entered a competition that I mentioned on the blog, only went and WON! It was the Retreats For You 4-night retreat in Devon, which my friend Gill – who likes writing and competitions (but I didn’t realise read my blog!) saw on here and decided to enter. Good for her. If you’re not in it (which I wasn’t), you can’t win it.

In other news, we went to Birmingham today and went on a pink tram!

I used to live and work in Birmingham but there were never any trams. It was very exciting (as well as being clean, quick and not too expensive). There was even a ticket collector/conductor on board, just like the old days on buses!

PS: Have you watched ‘Fleabag’? I’m a bit late to the party but since I last blogged, I’ve watched every episode. Wow! I thought it was brilliant. Written, of course, by ‘Fleabag’ herself, Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Clever, isn’t she?

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18 Responses to Pink Trams and Picture Dice

  1. Enjoyed your post as always Helen. Thank you. I too love Story Cubes and play games with them with my grandchildren. It’s great to see some of the ideas they come up with. Might have to pinch one or two of them! Good luck with the competition!

    • Helen M Yendall says:

      Thanks for your comment, Paula. Yes, why not (pinch the ideas! Or should we say you are ‘borrowing’ them?! After all – as someone who nicked my story idea told me once – there’s no copyright on ideas!)

  2. Linda Lewis says:

    I’m going to try to write a story from your cubes prompt. Never heard of these so thanks for spreading the news. Shame about the novel comp. can’t enter asI published my novel… grrrrrr. Good luck!

  3. Helen M Yendall says:

    I have no doubt that you’ll succeed, too, Linda! Will be really interested to read the final story when it’s published!! So keep us posted!

  4. Keith Havers says:

    I’ve had a set of Rory’s cubes for a few years and sometimes take them along to my writing club. They’re currently £9-60 on Amazon and you can get variations now such as Fantasia and Mystery versions. It hadn’t occurred to me to interpret the pictures other than the obvious thing they’re meant to be. I will in future though.

  5. Alex G says:

    Fleabag is great — but Mum is better! 🙂

    • Helen M Yendall says:

      Ooh, I will have to watch Mum – especially as it’s now had TWO recommendations! A question: could I watch it with my mum? Or is it too rude? (As, ahem, Fleabag was!!)

      • pennywrite says:

        It’s pretty decorous, Helen. Feels almost improvised, and although some ‘difficult’ topics are present, it’s never inyerface. The daffy young girl is a hoot!

  6. pennywrite says:

    The story cubes look very familiar. I seem to remember a grid of picture or word prompts as well – accessed by the throw of dice. All great for jogging the brain-cells!
    And… I agree about Mum! It’s beautifully observed.

  7. philippabowe says:

    Those cubes look fun, and I can imagine they’re very useful when the ideas don’t come. Love the pink tram! I’ve heard lots of good things about Fleabag but can’t watch it myself (outside UK) – I’ll wait for it to appear on Netflix. 🙂

    • can you not get i-player on the internet, Philippa? Maybe not, I don’t know how these things work!

      • philippabowe says:

        Apparently not – someone told me there’s a sneaky way round it, but I haven’t explored it yet. There’s so much to watch on Netflix already!;-)

  8. Amanda Barton says:

    A box of those story cubes has found its way from my son’s bookshelves onto mine where I imagine they may be put to better use. (Good luck, Alex, with the English language GCSE that is currently under way – I hope you’re not thinking that using those story cubes might have helped with the creative writing section!) Your ‘Daily Wail’ made me smile, Helen! Freudian slip? I did consider entering it but can’t bring myself to have any association with such a morally dubious publication. Instead, I’m giving the Curtis Brown first novel comp a try. Your novel doesn’t need to be complete; you enter the first 10,000 words and a synopsis. And it’s free. Here’s the link:

    • Thanks, Amanda. I’ll take a look! (and yes, it was deliberate – ‘Daily Wail’ – not my clever phrase, I borrowed it from someone else but I know what you mean!)

    • philippabowe says:

      Totally agree with you about the DM, Amanda. The Curtis Brown comp looks great (and so unusual for a novel comp to be free) – I don’t live in the UK so can’t enter, but good luck with your entry!

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