October 20 – 23, 2022

Pasadena, CA

Improv for Writers


In a supportive and fun environment, this workshop is for ALL writer. The time together will result in learning a useful new way to work and pages written. Those pages will be filled with surprising, delightful discoveries. You will have a combination of new characters, new story ideas, a fresh take on ongoing projects and tools to strengthen any aspect of story. Result: The understanding that we are IDEA MACHINES! (If you already know you are an Idea Machine, you will love the improv toolbox!)

This workshop is for every writer out there and is an inclusive and purposely created space to do exploratory, criticism-free, and sometimes, even problem-solving work. One former WD conference student claimed they found an ending to their novel that had been plaguing them for years. Another student at Cartoon Network realized they really could write a whole short story in one sitting. (We will do this!)

Improvisation (improv for short) is an art form that is thousands of years old. It was the way to see theatre in Italy through commedia dell’arte and more recently became a fun way to entertain U.S. audiences in the last 100 years. But its philosophy and laws are universal for storytelling and can help anyone harness ideas and bring them into the world through simple games and rules like trusting yourself, listening to your characters and your own instincts, and releasing the need to critique at this stage. This workshop will also help writers practice beating up their characters and elevate plot with fun games like “Raise the Stakes”

You can show up to this workshop with an existing project in mind or you can keep things wide open and see what story arrives from within. There will be exercises and tools for you to tailor to your own craft. Mix and match. Do one exercise with a character you’ve been struggling with understanding, or create a new one in the moment, right there on your page.

All you need is something to write on and your very playful self.

We will flip flop between learning a rule and playing a game to put each theory into practice.

  1. Say “YES!”

1.5  … and!

  1. Be in the Moment
  2. Have No Expectations
  3. Trust
  4. Listen
  5. Commit
  6. Be an Expert
  7. Be Specific
  8. Set an Intention
  9. Judge Not

PLUS Bonus Rule Number 11: Conjure Enthusiasm

Ideas – Part One

There are myriad proven ways to jump-start ideas and improv is no slacker in this arena. We will spend the class using a variety of methods used in improv to generate story ideas, springboards, characters

Ideas – Part Two

Bouncing off the knowledge that there are myriad ways to come up with ideas, we will explore and improvise using the creative methods known to be used by Ray Bradbury, Albert Einstein, David Bowie, and many others will be explored.


Characters are everything! We will spend time coming up with new characters, diving deeper into already formed characters, and actually being characters. All without performance or judgment.

We will also dive into archetypes.


Sometimes the setting can be so good, it becomes a character. See “characters are everything.

World-building at its best, free, untethered and in real time.

Story Elements

We will play (write) “Raise the Stakes” and other games to learn methods to strengthen the story elements and advance our skills in each area of interest. In addition to settings and character expansion (villains/antagonists and supporting characters, we will also cover: premises, dialogue, plot and structure, genre, message, and themes and editing.

BONUS: Improv Techniques

There are a lot of improv techniques and forms that connect in a symbiotic way to animation. Things like “mapping,” “peas in a pod,” jibberish, etc. can lead to full episodes, sequences, or gags. 

Comedy Rules

Using exercises utilized by stand-up comedians to come up with material, we will dive into “finding and exposing your own funny bone.” Ewww!

This is where the rubber chicken meets the road.