Storymatic Studios

Storymatic Synapsis

$23.95

Ready for a challenge? Try this conversational, improvisational way to create stories.

  • 250 cards that prompt characters, settings, plots, and conversation. There are 30 Spark cards to provide genre and context, 140 Riff and 30 Connect cards to get you exploring language and sentences, and 50 Ask cards to focus you on character, setting, and plot. 

  • Includes suggestions for playing with a group or as a solo writing prompts.

  • Synesthetic– Synesthesia is when you experience one sense via another, as in smelling color or tasting music. Sometimes the sentences you write in Synapsis will have a synesthetic quality, which gives them a vivid, mysterious energy.

  • Improvisational and spontaneous– In Synapsis, you jump around from story element to story element. You don't need to start at the beginning of a story.

  • Only one rule: "Say Yes." Because imagination lives on Yes! Yes opens doors and Yes makes stories come to life. 

  • Parents, teachers, and therapists: Synapsis can help with sentence structure, figurative language (simile and metaphor), conversational skills, sequential thinking, memory recall, as well as with fostering imagination and empathy.

  • Made in USA and ships from beautiful Vermont.

  • Ages 10 and up. That's not a set-in-stone rule about age range, of course.

What does Synapsis mean? Well, in biology, synapsis happens when two chromosomes join and begin the process of cellular division that leads to life. In Storymaticology, Synapsis happens when ideas fuse to create a new story.

Synapses are spaces between nerve cells that carry messages from one cell to another–they're the spaces in your brain that stories jump across, and a synopsis is a brief summary of a story.

Synapsis combines these things into a super-flexible prompt and game that starts with a couple of words, which then lead you into a sentence, which then leads you into your imagination, which then leads you into a story.

Synapsis at Boston Lit Fest

Writer Tim Weed playing Synapsis at Boston Lit Crawl with memoirist Ethan Gilsdorf and YA author Molly Booth.

Synapsis sample cards

The premise of Synapsis is straightforward: You pretend you've already written a story and then you answer questions about it.

Simple, right? Here's the thing: Synapsis takes you in directions you might not otherwise explore. Your stories might come from genres different than the ones you ordinarily read or write. Your sentences might be a whole lot stranger than the sentences you ordinarily read or compose. And your answers to the questions might surprise you.

Looking to level up your storytelling game? Jump into Synapsis.

There's only one rule: "Say Yes." That's because imagination lives on Yes. Yes opens doors and Yes makes stories come to life. You must always say Yes in Synapsis. "Is it okay if I only use the cards that prompt sentences?" Yes. "Can I only use the Ask cards for a story I've already working on and skip all the other cards?" Yes. If there's ever a question in Synapsis, the answer is always going to be Yes.

There are four kinds of cards: Spark, Riff, Connect, and Ask.

Synapsis storytelling cards

To begin, draw one Spark card to get the genre or context for the story you're pretending to have written. For example, suppose you draw "ghost story." Yup, that means you've written a ghost story. 

Now write a sentence. To get your sentence, draw two Riff cards and one Connect card. On each Riff you'll see a main word and a bunch of other words like it; you can use or adjust any of those words in your sentence, and you can add in whatever other language you want. Your sentence will go Riff-Connect-Riff. It takes a minute or two to do this part. Imagine that this sentence comes from the story you're pretending to have written.

Let's say you drew shadow and wolf for your Riffs, and the Connect card looks like. Your sentence might be something like, "As the moon rose, it made shadows that looked like wolves."

There's totally a ghost story in that sentence! 

Now read your sentence aloud. Doing so will help you enter the world of the story. If you're in a group, each person uses the Ask cards to ask you about your story. The first question is always, "What's your story about?"

As you answer the questions, talk about the story as if you really and truly know it, even though you're making it up on the fly. If you're by yourself, write out your answers.

Synapsis storytelling notebooks

Sentences from a Synapsis game at Lit Crawl NYC. Clockwise from top: novelists John Freeman Gill, Yoojin Grace Wuertz, cartoonist Ellis Rosen, poet Sam Ross, and novelist Rebecca Chace. So many ways to write a sentence! 

The Ask questions get you to focus on the specifics of your story, so try to answer in some detail. Follow-up questions are allowed. Shoot for at least five or six questions– the more you answer, the more you'll discover about your story. Let the answers come to you without thinking too hard. Allow 5-10 minutes for questions, laughter, and sidetracks.

After each person in the group has a turn, read your sentence once more (edits are allowed), give a super-short summary of your story, and then say what the title is. At this point, you will have brought a brand new story into the world. You can write it if you want, or just enjoy the feeling of knowing the story exists.

Discard the used cards, draw new ones, and go again!

Here's a round of Synapsis being played at the Brattleboro Literary Festival:

Writer Matthew Dicks playing at the Brattleboro Literary Festival. His cards were jack/had/voice.

One of the nice things about Synapsis is that you can use it however you want, and you can make up your own ways to play. Here are a few examples of ways people have made Synapsis their own (the instructions that come with Synapsis have even more ways to play).

Brian's Way– A solo writing prompt: write your responses to three or more Ask cards. Be detailed and specific. Finish by summarizing the story and titling it. Now use your notes to write the story.

Grant and Molly play Synapsis

Authors Grant Faulkner and Molly Booth playing Synapsis at BookCon. 

Simone's Way– Simone is a Speech Language Pathologist. She only uses the Riff cards to help students identify common roots and sounds. 

Jean's Way– Use a timer so you have one minute to write your sentence. Then answer as many questions as you can in five minutes.

Henri's Way– Use the Ask cards as a way to go deeper into stories that are already underway.

Synapsis card

Julia's Way– Julia uses Synapsis as a prompt for movement. Someone draws a Riff card and says a sentence that begins, "Move like," and then you do exactly that. If the sentence is, "Move like snow," you move like snow. "Move like a balloon," you move like a balloon. You can vote for who moves the best, or not. 

Sam's Way Use only Riff and Connect cards to write the first line of a poem. Now finish the poem.

Polar bears dig Storymatic Synapsis

Even polar bears play Synapsis.

USA SHIPPING

Shipping for the entire United States, including territories, is only $5 for USPS Priority or UPS Ground.

That means if you get one Storymatic, shipping is five bucks. If you get two Storymatics, it's five bucks. Get three or four: five bucks.

You're probably thinking, "But doesn't Priority cost more than five dollars, especially for people out West?" Yes. It does. But we pay the difference.

Priority usually delivers in 1-3 business days. Occasionally, an order for more than one Storymatic may need to go via UPS Ground. If you order more than one, please provide an address that can accept USPS and UPS.

We ship from Vermont and almost always get orders out within one or two business days. Often, orders ship the same day. Sometimes they ship within a few minutes.

We pack things really well, and sometimes you'll get a little prize with your order. A certain big online retailer doesn't do that. Just sayin'.

INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING

Our rates are more than 33% cheaper than regular USPS First Class rates. To put that into context, here are some examples for shipping one Storymatic Classic, give or take a few cents:

  • It's $13.53 to Vancouver instead of $21.25.
  • It's $16.55 to London instead of $24.70.
  • It's $18.93 to Melbourne instead of $28.26.

We are trying as hard as we can to keep your shipping costs as low as possible.

International shipping gets complicated once things weigh more than four pounds. If you're trying to order more than one item and you get a shipping error in your cart, that's why. If that happens, call or send an email so we can discuss the most economical shipping method for you. 

Please keep in mind that you may need to pay duty and taxes when you receive your order. These are your responsibility. They are not included in the price of shipping.

This information is for standard retail orders and not for bulk or wholesale.

Updated July 12, 2021

GIFT OPTIONS

Getting a gift? We'll wrap it for you! Get gift wrapping here. It's only $3.

We're also happy to include a personal gift message to the recipient at no charge. You can send your message one of two ways:

  • Look at the bottom of your shopping cart for "Add Order Note"; click on that and leave your note in the space provided,
  • Or leave your message on the contact page
Whichever route you take, please let us know whether to include the packing slip if it's a gift. We'll include your message on nice paper that's easy to read.  

 

DISCOUNTS

A few things to think about as you're making up your mind...

  • Buy One Get One 10% off: Use code STORYMATIC at checkout
  • Buy Two Get One 15% off: Use code SYNAPSIS at checkout
  • Buy Three Get One 25% off: Use code REMEMORY at checkout

These savings are in addition to the already discounted shipping rates.

Codes can't be combined and are only good for orders placed through this website. Discounts are taken off the lowest priced item.

BULK DISCOUNTS

Buying for a school? Shopping for a company-wide gift? Ordering for the local bookstore? Go to the "By Quantity" section under the Shop menu to find out about ordering by the carton.

Gift wrap

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