Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Wish It Was This Easy To Be Creative

But, sadly, it's not.

Writer Teri Dawn Smith recently wrote of her brainstorming technique using a letter cube like the one in the Scattergories game or by choosing a tile from a Scrabble game. When she needs "a new idea, a creative detail or even a solution to a problem," Teri says it's amazing what happens when she rolls that cube and a random letter pops up. Brainstorming with that letter lifts her "out of a rut."

Critically-acclaimed Author Steven James does the opposite of brainstorming. He limits himself to foster creativity. For example, hasn't this scenario played in your home?

"Where do you want to go to dinner?"

"I don't know. Where do you want to go?"

When nearly all the restaurants in town are possibilities, the conversation could continue for the next thirty minutes without reaching concrete dinner plans, leaving family members grumpy and hungry. A quicker result would be found if the choices were limited. "Do you want steaks, Italian, or pizza?"

James suggests limiting the choices aids creativity. He asks two questions. What would the character naturally do in this scene? How can I make things go worse? His goal is to drive the story by putting the character into an impossible situation.

The next time you're stuck and wonder what happens next, try brainstorming as Teri suggests or ask James' two questions. Either way, you're sure to be "unstuck" and making progress toward typing those magical words "the end."

~ Roxanne Sherwood


Beth K. Vogt said...

Two extremes when it comes to getting answers: Unlimited choices or purposefully limiting said choices.
I have my favorite restaurants. Favorite authors. Favorite clothes stores.
Sometimes I wander outside my "faves" and find something unexpected--and good. But sometimes I ignore all the other choices and stick with what I know is good.
Except in one area: I don't ever, ever try a new hair stylist.

Jeanne T said...

Roxanne, I like the idea of limited creativity, and I thank you for giving some suggestions for characters. :) Beth, I agree with you--especially when it comes to hair stylists! :)