I moved to Chicago in 2005 to be an improv comedian after working on the artform for three years in North Carolina. These free creative writing prompts are based on my experiences as an improviser both positive and negative. Thousands of performers flock to Chicago each year to learn the tenets of improv as set down by Del Close, Improv Olympic, and Second City. This is one of those "an hour to learn, a lifetime to master" kind of things and it's pretty amazing to watch, even when the improv is bad. Writing about improv seems a bit silly as improv can be so impermanent, but it is really important to evaluate where you are in the improv world to avoid being lost in it. At the least, maybe you could base an improv scene off of these :).
Free Creative Writing Prompts: Improv
1. Talk about a time in which you felt like you were purely improvising. You weren't thinking at all and just going for it from a completely subconscious perspective. How did that make you feel? Did your improv teammates notice? How did the audience or coach react?
2. Describe your reasons for doing improv. Do you truly feel as though it is a separate performance art or just a tool for creating other types of art? What would cause you to stop being an improviser?
3. What was your scariest improv experience? Who was involved and how did it turn out? Start the story from the beginning and go all the way through the end. Did you learn anything from this?
4. Who is the improviser, living or dead, that you respect the most in this world? Why do you feel that way and what have you learned from this person?
5. What is the best improv show you've ever seen in your life? Why was it so good and what do you remember from it?
6. What is the worst improv show you've ever seen in your life? What was so bad about it? Did you learn something from their mistakes? Did they learn something from their own mistakes?
7. Create some characters and write a play in the style of a Harold. It's Ok if it strays from the form from time to time, but try to stay as true to the feeling of the Harold as possible.
8. Write a story about a new improviser walking into class for the first time. What is scary and what is exciting about this new experience for the student? Feel free to use some of your own experiences in this account.
9. Where do you see improv taking you? Write a hypothetical story in which improv takes you as far as it possibly could. Talk about the ups and downs along the way and the things that you had to learn to get there.
10. If you could do an improv scene with anybody, who would it be? This person does not have to be a comedian. Describe every last detail of the scene and put it in the story word for word.
I love improv, both in comedic and tragic form. I've had some great teachers and I've learned a hell of a lot about life by creating thousands of scenes with new characters and motivations. The value of improv is priceless in writing and I recommend that all writers take an improv class (if in Chicago, I thoroughly recommend The Annoyance and iO). I hope that these free creative writing prompts will allow you to express your feelings (as some improvisers avoid like the plague) and will make you a better writer and a better improviser. Happy writing...and improvising! :)
Bonus Prompt - You have magically been given the skills of the perfect improviser. How does this change how you play and what will you do with this new found power?
Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on Google+ and Facebook.