I came upon Rory’s Story Cubes at Bed, Bath & Beyond on an end cap dedicated to cheap kiddie toys—yoyo’s and silly putty and Spirograph Junior.  My inner artist was begging for a set, so I obliged and forked over the $5.99.  It went in her Christmas stocking and ultimately ended up on a closet shelf.  I serendipitously rediscovered it during a recent bout of writer’s block.  Inside the orange pouch are nine dice.  Instead
of numbers, each face has a picture on it.  You roll the dice, then write or tell a story that includes all nine of the objects pictured.  A simple creativity generator.  So anyway, this was my first roll:


And here is the story I came up with:

Ever since Peg’s eyes had been opened, she saw homeless folks, stray cats and dogs, hitchhikers, and drivers with dead batteries everywhere. In under a year, she had given away more dollars and shelter and rides and jump starts than she could begin to count. Even within the protect-tive walls of her house, Peg attracted charity cases like a magnet.  She rolled the dice and took her chances every time she answered the tele-phone, knowing she could not resist any plea to save the children, the trees, the bees, or whatever little-known fish was now endangered due to an oil spill.  Even though her cash flow was more of a trickle than a fountain, the fluttery rush of do-gooding had become quite addictive.  When the doorbell rang, Peg hurried to answer it, expecting to find a neighbor who was short a cup of sugar or in need of someone to sign for a package.  Peering through the peephole, she regarded a stout, cellophane-wrapped fruit basket sitting atop her welcome mat.  There was no sign of whoever had left it.  She hoisted it up by its handle and carried it to the kitchen table, admiring the trio of blushing Honeycrisp apples visible through the film—her favorite.  The card was unsigned;
it simply said, “For all you do.”  Peg undoubtedly deserved the gift, but had taken great care to remain anonymous and thus avoid any sort of repayment.  Someone knew her secret.  The question was, who?

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20 thoughts on “BLOCKED? RORY TO THE RESCUE!

    • Just Joan April 15, 2018 / 1:44 pm

      Thanks, Tippy. It’s been fun to play with. Lots of interesting scenarios, characters, and details have resulted. I do better with a framework, some rules, than staring at a blank screen or sheet of paper. Give it a try, seems there are always one or two things that don’t quite fit, a good work-out for the imagination. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tippy Gnu April 15, 2018 / 2:01 pm

        I might try it. But I don’t follow rules or structure well. I always got docked a grade in creative writing classes, because I would try to find some way to satirize the assignments. Apparently, creative writing teachers don’t like class clowns.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Just Joan April 15, 2018 / 3:00 pm

        I like a bit of structure, a framework, but I want to do my own thing with it. Sounds as if your muses like satire… what’s wrong with that? How do you “grade” creative writing, anyway? Budding writers need encouragement, not picky criticisms about spelling or verb tense or turning the assignment into a circus. Be you, Tippy. Your “voice” is one-of-a-kind and wonderful. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Tippy Gnu April 15, 2018 / 3:04 pm

        Thanks. I never did understand why they called it “creative” writing, then tried to make the students’ writing conform to their rules.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 15, 2018 / 1:46 pm

      Thanks, Marissa. It’s marketed as a toy for kids, to turn them into storytellers, I guess. An alternative to playing Uno or Go Fish. Or fiddling with your I-Pad all day. 🙂


  1. Peter Klopp April 15, 2018 / 7:47 pm

    A great game to get the writer’s juices flowing! As a teacher I used to write computer programs that created randomly words and phrases out of a pool of ideas which I had stored on the computer. It was quite similar to dice game and the kids had lots of fun writing their stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 15, 2018 / 8:13 pm

      Wow, Peter! Your idea probably inspired Rory. It is fun, and I’ll bet no two kids ever came up with the same thing. I wish my teachers would have approached writing that way. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. L. T. Garvin, Author April 18, 2018 / 1:22 pm

    I’ve seen these at Walmart, and I thought about getting them for my students. I’d say that they work well. I love your little story, and I like that it could also be the beginning of a longer story. Now we all want to know who it is. Nice job, Joan!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 18, 2018 / 6:23 pm

      Thanks, Lana. When I got my Rory Cubes (Dec 2016), I had never seen them before. Now they’re all over the place, usually by the kiddie card games. Could be a fun thing to play in the car or on a camping trip. I hadn’t thought about potential classroom uses until you and Peter mentioned it. As for who left the fruit basket for Peg, it was probably Aunt Agnes. You know how she watches everyone from behind her curtains and has the lowdown on the whole neighborhood! Have a great week! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • L. T. Garvin, Author April 18, 2018 / 6:48 pm

        Oh Joan, it was Aunt Agnes for sure, Lol! I love your sense of humor, you make me laugh out loud! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  3. chevvy8 April 19, 2018 / 4:46 am

    I loved your story Joan. In fact I can see a resemblance to someone I know:-) A great way to get around writer’s block. Well done! I’ve responded by the way – a different sort of fruit basket 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 19, 2018 / 10:01 am

      Thanks, Chev. I wonder who it could be?? Thanks for the note and “fruit basket” of recommendations, I actually own and love both of those books. 🙂


    • Just Joan April 21, 2018 / 11:33 am

      Thanks, KE. It’s just for fun mainly, and to get the brain and pen moving. But who knows, a little character sketch might turn into the protagonist in a novel. Congrats on your new book! 🙂


  4. circumstance227 July 9, 2018 / 5:14 pm

    I use these cube sets with my students for speaking and storytelling practice. After rolling them, one student takes one cube and makes the first sentence of a story, the the next student has add a cube and a sentence, etc etc – the only rule is that there has to be some connection to what has come before. I never thought of using them for writer’s block (which I have had a lot of in the past half year!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan July 9, 2018 / 7:37 pm

      What a fun way to use the Cubes! I’m jealous, I wish we would have had storytelling class when I was a kid. Do you have the verb cubes, too? Or just the nouns? The verb ones are challenging, kind of like playing charades. Is he dancing? Or pretending to milk a cow? 🙂


      • circumstance227 July 10, 2018 / 4:19 am

        I have three sets – one is “action” – so I guess that is verbs, and one is “fairy tale”. Can’t remember the theme of the third.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Just Joan July 10, 2018 / 12:44 pm

        Probably the noun cubes I have, the original set sold in an orange bag. I have not seen the fairy tale ones. Might be fun to mix and match. 🙂


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