How to Come Up with Story Ideas using Story Cubes

You probably wonder now what Story Cubes are and how they can help you with coming up with story ideas.

Story Cubes are a set of dice. Instead of a number, there is a small pictogram on each side.

You take nine dice, shake and roll.

Then, start a story with ‘Once upon a time…’ by selecting the icon that catches your eye first. And go on including the other eight dice until you created a story with all nine images.

It is fun and do not forget; there is no wrong or right.

Sometimes you might wonder what the image is, but the creator of the cube left this intentionally vague.

We get asked for definitions of the icons every day - but their meanings are intentionally open, in order to trigger multiple associations. For example, the castle can be a castle, or it can refer to a princess, or to someone who’s behaving in a guarded way.

Your brain is constantly trying to make meanings and it thinks in pictures. When you look at an icon, you can’t help but find meaning. Your brain is doing it all the time, constantly filling in the gaps. Your brain searches through all your memories and experiences to try and find a meaningful association.

Rory’s Story Cubes -

You can buy the Story Cubes as physical dice or also as an app. The is a base set of commons icons and several theme packages, i.e. mystery, crime and there is a BATMAN DICE SET! How cool is that?

You might wonder if this works for you?

it was a lot of fun not knowing what the comic would be about in advance. To be precise, it was so much fun that I’ll make another one.

Rachel at

It did work for them, obviously. So let’s try it together.

I rolled this in a competition app I got on google play.


So we got in no particular order

  • Something looking like a chili pepper
  • a card set
  • a tie
  • a camera
  • a mustache with a monocle
  • a ghost
  • a cactus
  • a film
  • a trash bin

At least this is my interpretation of the icons; your mileage may vary.

My first go:

Once upon a time there was a famous poker player in our streets. His name was Mr. Mustacle. Strange name, isn’t it. But he had a mustache and was always wearing a monocle when playing poker. He was notorious known for stripping his opponent to the bare skin. But he was playing false. Even no one could prove it. Sheriff Tie, always wearing his tie, had tried it several times to get him caught on photo and was even shooting videos with his small camera hidden in his tie. But no luck. One day they were playing, Mr. Tie got so frustrated, he threw his tie into a trash bin, saying he’s quitting. Mr. Mustacle giggled turning into a laugh, getting louder and louder. That made Tie even angrier, he took the trash bin, raised it over his head, run to Mr. Mustacle and oops, tripped over a cactus, lost his balance and run into Mr. Mustacle. 2 guys, a flying trash bin, and a cactus is no good. Both died. And if you ever happen to see a trash bin near a cactus, you might hear voices and a strange laugh.

Second Round:

One day I was playing poker with my cactus. He was wearing his tie again. Can you image a tiny cactus, wearing a tie? I had to laugh. A Tie. He scratched his Mustache and set his monocle on. “Sir, why are you laughing?”. I could not answer; I was still laughing about his tie. A white light flashed. “Got ya” said my friend Ghost, “another amazing picture for my gallery, Crazy man.” “huh?”, I woke up in a trash bin, not remembering how I got here. “Shit, it happened again.”.


It was hard for the first times. You need to keep going with the story and do not start evaluating it. It slowed me down, made me stop, thinking too long, and my inner critic was always shouting “this is lame”. I was also writing it down on the computer while thinking, trying not to edit at the same time. Bad idea.

I had to remember there is no right or wrong. And not all stories can be a gold nugget. It is a training tool for creating ideas and as with every training, we have to train. So don’t go too hard on you. I didn’t on me.

I will use it more. But will set some rules for me:

  • Do not sit at the computer
  • Do not write it down directly
  • Do not think too much
  • Do not evaluate

Sticking to the first two rules is easy. The others will be a bit harder and require some training. But if you don’t do it you won’t get better at it :-)

Now it is your turn.

Use my roll and create your story.

Write it in the comments below.

What are your experiences?