Big, Bigger, Biggest

Big, Bigger, Biggest

What is it?

This is an acting game where players imagine themselves as their characters and build up from a "big" idea to the biggest possible one they can imagine. While this game yields spontaneous insights more easily when characters are actually on their feet improvising, the game can also be played sitting down in a brainstorming style.

How to Play:

Start with any scene. After playing out the moment, rewind and try it again with exaggeration. Then, try it again in its biggest possible iteration. The goal here is to explore how to exaggerate the physicality or the specifics of the situation.

After playing through the three possibilities, discuss with your writer(s) which of the possibilities feel like the best fit for their story. You might also want to reflect on any ways in which they might have surprised themselves. What did exaggerating their ideas past where they thought was reasonable take them? What did they notice about their own willingness to take risks? Do they think they're a person who should continue to stretch themselves past their comfort zone like this, or do they tend to start too big, and maybe need to pull back?


In a one-on-one, in-person setting, consider improvising the scene together. If you or your mentee isn't comfortable improvising, you can also brainstorm lists. In this case, use each round as an opportunity to come up with many more ideas than needed. After brainstorming for what could be "bigger," choose one option, and then brainstorm "biggest" from there.


Sometimes stepping away from the screen helps writers to improvise more freely, while a mentor facilitates with simple prompts. For instance, "Think about your scene. What big thing might happen? How would it start? Strike a pose at that starting point. Let's move through a series of three events to build to the height of the scene. Strike a pose for the first event. The second. The third. Great. Now, what's the climax of this event? Strike that pose. Make any tiny changes to exaggerate even more, or to add emotion. All right. Before we move on, consider how the scene might end. What might your character do at the resolution of this moment?"

Once you've played through the scene, rewind and imagine the bigger scene. Then, go for the biggest possibility your writer can imagine.


Use either the acting or brainstorming approaches above, with all the players listing or improvising simultaneously. The discussion once the activity is over is often very fruitful with a group of players.


During live play, move players around the room in a more general way before starting into this game. I like to use 🏃🏾Walk As If with easy (and sometimes funny) prompts to loosen players up. Once they are spread around the room, have tuned into themselves and stopped focusing on the other players, and gained some concentration and body control, move into acting prompts as described above.

If your players are ready for it, they can also play through the scene in action. I often count down from 10 to give their acting time structure and a ticking clock to keep them on task.


If your players have lost control and aren't gaining insight from the game, trying playing in the opposite direction from big, to medium, to small.

If your players aren't pushing themselves far enough, stop and brainstorm with them. Offer some wild suggestions that show them that even "too far" isn't necessarily too much in this game.

Alternate Uses:

Characterization: Step into a variety of characters' shoes to see what would be big, bigger, and biggest for them. Explore scenes that may not end up in the book to better understand non-viewpoint characters.

Idea Generation: Rather than stepping into an already-created character's shoes, plan a simple plot using this game.