Beyond Yes And: Stumbling in the Right Direction (part 2)

In part one of the Beyond Yes And series, I talked about what it means to add information (instead of details) in every line. But is all information even useful? 

Let's revisit our example and try to add information in every line:

Janet: My cousin Ralph is sick.
Frank: Yes, and he is vomiting on my brand new shoe.
Janet: Yes, and those are expensive looking loafers.
Frank: Yes, and can you believe they were hand-me-downs from my grandpap!
Janet: Yes, and they just don't make shoes like they used to...

In this revised scene, we do a bit better job of adding new information in each scene. Instead of finding different ways to say "Ralph is sick," we are saying new things. 


Why doesn't that feel much better? Chris Trew at The New Movement used this metaphor: think of the top of a scene as a wide open beach full of infinite possibilities. Each bit of information added is one of the players digging into the beach. Sometimes we make many small shallow holes all around an idea. Or sometimes we dig deeper into one hole.

This scene again follows the "Yes And" rules and even my guidance to add information in every line. Only now that information is making many shallow holes. Let's count the holes!

  1. Poor sick cousin Ralph
  2. Poor ruined Janet's shoe (Frank contributes to this hole)
  3. Frank's grandpap
  4. The good ole days

You: Ok I see your point. But in the last example, the lines were all about the same thing and that was a problem!
Me: Yes, now you're getting it!

We want to be adding information, but adding information that all points in the same direction. If this sounds hard, it's only because you've been improvising so long and you are used to (perhaps even good at) inventing things. We get in our own way.

The ideal place is allowing yourself to stumble. No need to think your way from one line to the next. To hold these "rules" or "guidelines" in your head. You just stumble forward line to line, listening intently to your scene partner with your eyes on the same prize. More on the how next week.