This storytelling technique describes what a 'day in the life' of a protagonist from the future might look like. The technique adds rich details and grounds the scenario in a concrete situation. While scenarios tend to be short outlines of a possible world, 'day in a life' descriptions can bring this world to life.

Process

This technique works best as an individual writing or closed eye visioning exercise, but it can be conducted as a group discussion as well. If time and resources are available, the result of the worldbuilding can include a storyboard, a short video, or a prehearsal.

  • Step 1: Frame the exercise as a storytelling technique that describes a specific situation and (human) character that exist within the global description of a scenario. The story should include answers to the following questions: What would happen during an ordinary day in the life of your character? Think of specific details and events: how and where do they wake up, what do they do, how do they travel, what do they eat, how do they communicate, who is around them, how does the day begin and end, etc. You can add specific open questions that relate to your scenario. Note that your questions must be as open as possible, to give space to participants' imaginations. Check that you are not inadvertently adding your own assumptions about what daily life might be like for their characters.
  • Step 1a (optional): Identify different characters and situations with the whole group (or in breakout groups). Alternatively you can skip this step and let the individual participants describe their own.
  • Step 2: Invite participants to spend an allocated amount of time (10–20 minutes minimum) describing one day in the life of a specific character in the chosen scenario. You can suggest some additional guiding questions (verbally or written on a worksheet) to encourage the development of concrete detail in the stories:
    • What is your character like? What does your character look like? Think of internal and external characteristics like emotional, intellectual, spiritual states, personality, social interaction, physical appearance, clothing, scent, etc.
    • What does your character believe in? How does your character think and feel about the world? Do they have an ideology, a worldview?
    • What larger (social) systems have an impact on your character's life? Are there rules and regulations that govern their (social life)?
    • What is the setting? Where does your character live? Think of the visible surroundings like interiors, exteriors, landscapes, geopolitical entities (cities, states, regions)…
  • Step 3: Share (some of) the stories with the group. The participants can either read their stories out loud, or you can invite answers to the guiding questions from step 1 and 2 and get short reports from different people. You can record and cluster the responses thematically if appropriate.

References