Improvising Your Book

Barbara Vey -- December 14th, 2010

Debbie Kaufman

Debbie Kaufman

Cub Reporter Debbie Kaufman sent in this report of the Georgia Romance Writers way of celebrating the holidays while infusing that little extra something into their writing.

Georgia Romance Writers
added a creative twist to their annual Christmas party this year with the inclusion of an improvisation workshop. Allison Gilmore and Elizabeth Beasley of DuMore Improv and the Gorgeous Ladies of Comedy cajoled more than sixty members into quick scenes of structured improvisations, and sparked the creative process for us in a whole new way.  We started with an exercise where two people faced each other and counted from 1 to 3 with each person counting one of the numbers in order.  I would never have thought that such a simple task could demand so much attention and be so funny.

Allison Gilmore Haywood Smith Elizabeth Beasley

Allison Gilmore Haywood Smith Elizabeth Beasley

Besides a workshop filled with laughter, attendees took away valuable insights for the creative writing process. The one main point we all carried away involved the “Yes, and” response structure to ideas that forms the basis of improvisation. By morning’s end, Gilmore and Beasley demonstrated how this positive approach generated more choices in scenarios than its polar opposite, the “No, but” response. Using the positive approach, members created hilarious scenes for the audience’s enjoyment, proving that, just like life, positive is always the better approach. GRW members took away valuable tools and had fun in the process.

What a wonderful way to spend a holiday gathering that left us laughing and more open-minded as we approach everything in life, not just writing.  We shared a breakfast meal and everyone brought a wrapped book we exchanged with each other.  One of the highlights of the morning was handing over a check for almost $1000 to support Literacy.  This money comes from raffle sales at every GRW event.  Everyone left in high spirits and happy to have participated in an unusual holiday gathering.

Bottom Line: I think if parties were given as learning tools, I’d learn a lot more and have loads of fun doing it.

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23 thoughts on “Improvising Your Book

  1. Dianna Love

    We had a fabulous time at the GRW holiday party. Allison and Elizabeth were amazing. Kudos to Nicki Salcedo for a wonderful year of programs capped by this energizing workshop and thanks also to my creative table mates who were so creative with each exercise. Thanks for the cub report on this Debbie!

  2. Pam Asberry

    Great summary, Debbie! I can’t remember when I’ve learned so much at a holiday party, or had so much fun! I believe I am seeing the world–and my writing–in a whole new light as a result of the creative exercises we did on Saturday. I am looking forward to applying some of those lessons to my WIP.

  3. Sandra Elzie


    Thanks for sharing our creative Christmas party with everyone. Who ever thought learning could be so filled with laughter? Goes to prove that a spoonful of sugar DOES helps the medicine go down. Merry Christmas to all!

  4. Dorene Graham

    Kudos to Debbie for recapping our fun and to Nicki Salcedo for bringing in DuMore Improv. They certainly got my mind working in a new way! What fun!

  5. Sally Kilpatrick

    Who would have thought that all those years of watching Whose Line is it Anyway might pay off someday? Thanks to DuMore Improv, I learned some of the secrets behind improv. I really think the idea that involving your body opens your mind was an important takeway.

  6. Debbie Kaufman

    Oh, it was fun. Going into it, I had no idea it would be so interactive, or so applicable. I often find myself driving down the road and running plot scenarios through my head. Now they include “Yes, and…” when I’m considering new ideas.

    The other thing I can’t get out of my head was when Allison and Elizabeth had volunteers come up and do their own improvs using the principles we’d learned. Who would have thought killer catfish and vampire slaying would marry together into such an hysterical skit? And NYT bestseller Haywood Smith in a skit with aspiring author Walt Mussell? Just too funny to be believed.

    Thanks for letting us share, Barbara. And I highly recommend improv as a way to spark creative thinking!

  7. Linsey Lanier

    Thanks for the article, Debbie. Unfortunately, I had to miss the party. Now I’m really sorry things turned out that way. :( But your description gave me a taste of it. Nicki was inspired to bring in Allison and Elizabeth. We’ll have to do it again!

  8. Darcy Crowder

    Thanks so much, Debbie, for a great cub report. We had a blast! And special thanks to Nicki Salcedo and DuMore Improv for a great party. We had so much fun and laughter, what a great way to start off the holiday season.

  9. Nicki Salcedo

    Debbie, great article. You captured the spirit of the day. Barbara, thanks for borrowing Debbie, and we look forward to seeing you in 2011.

    DuMore Improv are wonderful educators. It is frightening to let your creativity flow so publicly, but it is refreshing too. The “buzzer” game is my favorite. And a 9 months pregnant woman should not laugh so hard. No wonder I had the baby two days later!

    I’m excited to let these creativity exercises give my writing a boost. Debbie, thanks for sharing your thoughts. You are the best!

  10. Anna Doll

    Thanks Barbara for allowing GRW to share their wonderful Holiday Party and interactive workshop with DuMore Improv. I liked the “buzzer” game and the final exercise where we put it all together was a hoot! I haven’t laughed that much in a long, long time!

    Barbara, we hope to see you at Moonlight and Magnolias this year. Have a great holiday and see everyone in 2011!


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