N. Renee Brown

Part-time Author, Full-time Book Junkie

Serving Improv: Emotional bodies

Improv is great for writers.  I love it, as I have said many times in the recent past, and I often add games I’ve learned from my improv classes to my writing sphere.  Funnily enough, I’ve found that these games help tremendously, so I thought I would share them with you.  That said, here is the first installment of Serving Improv!


This is a CHARACTER game.  You will need 2 containers, some paper cut into strips, and a writing utensil.

Take half the strips of paper and write down parts of the body.  Everything from knees to legs to nostrils…you could even get crazy and use things like gallbladder and spleen (but it would help to know what those parts do for a body).

Take the other half of the strips and write down emotions.  Jealous, embarrassed, elated, nervous, etc.

Make sure to keep the strips separate, and put one pile in one container and one pile in the other.

Now draw one from each.  NO PEEKING!

Now you have a body part with an emotion.  Put that body part on your character and write them keeping this body part in mind.

WARNING: Don’t let this body part take over, it is just one part of the whole…but think about the subtle ways it might influence a persons speech, how they carry themselves, and what that emotion might give you about their past.

When I played this with my writing group someone got embarrassed ankles.

He is writing about soldiers in the Revolutionary War, and was reticent about using it, but then we all brainstormed it with him.

1) This man shuffles a lot, even limping, because the ankles are trying to hide behind one another.  This might be the result of an injury…and perhaps one resulting from a dubious action (cowardice, for example).

2) This man constantly fidgets with his pants.  He is unconsciously trying to hide his ankles.  It makes him come across as fastidious.

3) This man may hold himself erect and tall (the posture of a soldier), but his gait causes him to seem unstable and unsure.  People often underestimate him.

4) This man never crosses his legs.  He keeps his feet flat on the ground, which means he’s ready to go at a moments notice.

Now we have an ex-soldier with a limp, who takes very good care to look proper, and thinks of himself as steady and alert while others tend to underestimate him.  His frustration at being coddled (as well as the memory of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding his injury) make him reckless in an attempt to prove himself still capable.


Fascinating, eh?

Now you try it!

Character, Writing Tips

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