Friday, June 10, 2011

Idea Generator Worksheet

Lately I’ve really interested in idea generating. I know how I come up with ideas (dreams, TV splicing, ideas just running wild, “what I would do if…”s), but I wanted a more formulaic way to go about generating ideas.

I, for one, think everything becomes more interesting when you give yourself parameters. I heard somewhere that people are hindered by too much writing freedom (which sounds scary), but basically what it boiled down to is that when you have too many options you might feel burdened by that freedom and thereby be unable to perform whatever writing task. Do I agree with this? No, not completely, but it makes for interesting thinking.

What could you write if you were giving unreasonable parameters to write it in? Could you combine a sci-fi/ western sounding romance set in the future that’s oddly like the past (hey, I kind of like that…lol)? Would it suck? These are the questions, people.

Here’s what I’m thinking for idea generation, and I hope you do it without reading it all first so your subconscious doesn’t sabotage you.

List 4 fiction genres: (1st ones that come to mind) [*Scroll to the bottom for genre list, if needed*]

List 2 phobias/fears:

List 2 objects: (you don’t have to make them related, but you can)

Now, take genres #1 and #4 and combine them on a brainstorming sheet with phobia/fear #2 and object #1. How can all of these things interact and become a cohesive story? Think of it as a puzzle that only you can solve (*cue superhero music*).

Now take genres #2 and #3 and write them down on a sheet with phobia #1 and object #2. Brainstorm ideas for this set. How can they be pushed together to make a story worth reading?

What format of writing you chose to do is up to you. You could stretch it out novel length (Good luck! J ) or make a short story or poem with your ingredient list.

Here are some questions to think about:
  1. Is the object the cause of the phobia/fear?
  2. How many main characters are affected by the phobia/fear? Is it specific to the MC (main character) or is the phobia/fear an epidemic?
  3. Can the object save the MCs from the phobia/fear?
  4. If one of the genres is romance, does the MC need help by the love interest to overcome his or her phobia/fear? If one of the genres is horror, did the object cause the phobia/fear or does the MC(s) cling to the object to protect them from the phobia/fear?
  5. What sets off this story? Is the phobia/fear or object the catalyst for how the story begins?

Do you have to do the exercise? Absolutely not, but I thought it sounded like a fun way to come about getting ideas. Let me know if it works out for you or how you tweaked it to make it applicable to your writing style. 

*Here’s if you need help with a fiction genre list (and without a doubt, I’m forgetting a lot): (P.S. I didn’t include sub-genres, because you’ll be combining two of these genres anyways)

Diary-like faux memoir/Confessional
Fairy Tale
Supernatural/Ghost (that’s not necessarily sci-fi or horror)

Now, I'll leave you with a video to write by, "Dead Skin" by Crossfade <3

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