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Rory’s Story Cubes – Where Great Ideas Start

Writing.ie | Resources | Better Fiction Guides | Plotting and Planning

Julie Murphy

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The general consensus is that creativity is a gift bestowed on an elite few and that some of us were simply not designed to produce literary masterpieces or breath-taking works of art. But Rory O’Connor and Anita Murphy (pictured below in The Belfast Telegraph) of The Creativity Hub challenge this misconception with their  simple but effective Story Cubes.


Rory’s Story Cubes® were designed to tap into our unconscious mind where images and pictures naturally link together in a way that our conscious mind is unable to achieve. The basic premise of Rory’s design is to exercise the mind’s ability to make connections and he explains that this is not restricted to those wishing to tell a story. Rory’s own background is in animation and puppetry but in 2004 when the practice of coaching and problem solving techniques was taking over Rory decided that to successfully break into this field he would have to bring something original and innovative to the table. This ambition was to culminate in the eventual conception of Rory’s Story Cubes®.

Creating a Story

Made up of 9 six-sided cubes, this creative tool attempts to produce an unconscious expression of what is going on in the mind. Each of the six sides has an image and with a single roll of the nine cubes, the imagination is invoked and a story is created. The allegorical value of the story can then be used to solve a problem by bringing a form of clarity to it – a clarity that usually exists in your unconscious but seldom reaches beyond that. The example offered by Rory to illustrate this value comes from his own experience. When The Creativity Hub was in its infancy and Rory was struck by a crisis of clarity regarding the fundamental objective of the business he used the story cubes to stimulate his mind and the story that emerged enabled him to work out what it was he was trying to achieve. Rory’s story was based around the notion that everybody has a latent superpower within them – a light that needs to be lit – and he drew parallels between this superpower and the ability for creativity and imagination within each individual. The cubes are the spark used to ignite that light.

Crisis Point

The story cubes have proved to be very successful with 130,000 sets in use, exercising minds around the world. They are not only popular with school children improving upon their story-telling and literacy skills and parents seeking a novel way to entertain their kids but they are also a useful tool for the aspiring writer. If nothing else the story told by the cubes can give a fresh perspective to those suffering from the dreaded writers block.  One such success story dates back to 2005 and the first prototype.  Rory explains how a colleague who was at crisis point in the creative process of a novel used the story cubes to stimulate her imagination. Although the story that she interpreted from the images began at the same point as her original novel she did find herself being led down a slightly different path by the cubes as the story went on and the crippling writers block was overcome.

A New Chapter

Each roll of the cubes can represent a new chapter in your story or at the very least it will plant a seed from which massive storytelling will hopefully grow. With thousands of possibilities stemming from a single roll the biggest tip Rory offers to all aspiring writers is to make assertive decisions in the creative process. He maintains that decisions need to be made and we need to let go of the options not chosen. He concedes that many find this difficult and it may seem to go against the grain to let go of any scrap of an idea during the creative process but he believes it is imperative. If nothing else Rory’s Story Cubes® will enable you to trust your own imagination while exercising the mind’s ability to make connections.

Telling  Stories…

Short stories originating from a roll of the nine cubes can be found on Twitter and Flickr.com. One Irish writer wrote a light-hearted short story and posted it on Twitter after he took a shot at rolling the cubes he then set himself the task of writing a darker styled story to challenge the value of the cubes and again he posted this on Twitter. Even Ryan Tubridy has had a go at flexing his mind and telling a story when Rory’s Story Cubes® appeared on the Late Late Toy Show last year.

A series of eight stories have been posted on Flickr by Chris Baudot along with photos of the sequence of cubes used to initiate the telling of these stories. Mr Baudot who lives in New Orleans posted a story a day for eight days and although many of the same images appeared on these days his stories all differ. His is only one of the thousands of sets of story cubes across the United States of America. Rory’s Story Cubes® have been licensed to Gamewright in the US since February 2010 and they reported that with 94,000 sets sold in the six months that followed, this was the single biggest launch product in their 16 years. In addition to Ireland and the US, the story cubes are currently available in the UK and the Netherlands and will shortly be inspiring the imagination of adults and children alike across France and Germany.

Use Your Imagination

Rory urges everyone to use their imagination and tell the story of the cubes in whatever medium they are most comfortable with in order to express themselves and their creativity.

Where can you get them?

For more information visit www.storycubes.com orwww.thecreativityhub.com . You can also follow Rory and his partner in The Creativity Hub, Anita Murphy on Twitter: @roryoconnor, @anitamurphy and @storycubes.

Rory’s Story Cubes can be bought online from The Creativity Hub Shop or from Amazon and they are also distributed to many book, gift and toy shops, including  The Gutter Book Shop who will pop a set in the post to you if you give them a call on (+353) 1 6799206! A full list of stockists can be found onwww.thecreativityhub.com .

About the author

©Julie Murphy for writing.ie

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