Saturday, November 26, 2005

Supertools: for fiction and 'real world' creativity

About this post

Post in a nutshell: imagine you meet a magical being who gives you special powers:

You can choose any area in space where the powers operate. You can pinpoint and see anything in that area. You can move anything anywhere you want. You can follow anything backwards and forwards in time. You can possess anything. You can intensify or decrease a characteristic of anything. You can create a clone of anything then alter that clone. You can swap items. You can do any action. You can make anything else capable of using the powers.

I devised this range of supertools to be used when writing stories. They can also be constructively used with 'real world' creativity.

Supertools and fiction

As a range of tools used for an aid when writing fiction, I wanted the tools to have the potential to make anything possible within a story - so that anything can happen and any change can occur instantly or over a longer time period. I also wanted to entertain the possibility that restrictions could be applied to the tools to create difficulty and conflict within the story.

If I apply the supertools myself (as a story's writer) then I can use the tools in conjunction to set up any possible starting scenario. I can also use them to create 'what if?' possibilities - where I can create any possible development to see where that takes the story.

If I consider how a story's proponent (or any character) can use the tools (perhaps by introducing a magical character such as a deus ex machina or genii type character to empower the proponent/character) then - because the tools make anything possible - the character would be able to use the tools to solve problems, resolve conflict, or even set up any problem or difficult scenario for other characters.

Supertools and real world creativity

When applied to 'real world' creativity, the supertools can be used to create 'What if?' questions, discover problems, and suggest 'magical' solutions.

The Supertools

The supertools are as follows:

Zone of Attention, Superselect, Supermove, Track, Possess, Er, X-versions, What's X?, Swap, Other, Toolable

and they are used in conjunction with the BOSNIA ' ' ' tool.

Here is a brief overview of the tools:

Zone Of Attention

(See Zone of Attention post.)

A character can select a Zone of Attention. In this zone he will be able to operate any of the supertools. He can select a zone ranging in size from the atomic level all the way up to the entire universe.


A character needs to select something that will be the 'target' when the supertools are applied. Perhaps he will have a machine that can superselect, or a deus ex machina or genii effects the superselect. To use superselect the character simply states what things in the Zone of Attention will be operated on by the supertools. He can state a directive such as:

Superselect all terrified people

and if his Zone of Attention had been 'planet earth' then he will be able to see all the terrified people on earth and they become the target. The character then has the option to carry out any supertool on them.

Superlatives can also be used to refine the target. So a character could state the directive:

Superselect the angriest people


With a target selected the character can move that target anywhere he wants. If he had selected himself as the target he could move himself anywhere too.


(See Track and Freeze post.)

A character can use Track to follow a chosen target back in time or forward into the future.


A character can choose to possess any other character or even animals or objects.


With the ER supertool, a character can alter a characteristic of a target. Say, for example, the character has selected the moon as a target. He can then identify a characteristic of the moon and then change the degree of that characteristic. A characteristic will usually be described by an adjective or a phrase with an adjectival function. Example:

The moon is close

Application of the supertool ER means that the character can choose to make the moon closer or further away. These options can be written as: closER and furthER. The ER supertool also allows a character to choose the rate of change. So if a character chooses the 'closER' option for the moon and opts to make the change gradual then we have plenty of time to observe the ensuing panic on planet earth!


(See X-versions post).

The X-versions tool is used to create a different variety of a chosen target. (I have so far used this myself to create ideas for stories rather than consider how this could empower a character). For example, on one occasion I considered the Fight Club. One X-version created was:

Animal fight club

which led to the idea of a club where people fight animals for an audience.

What's X?

(See Zone of Attention Profiling post.)

This is another supertool I have used to both profile a Zone of Attention and also suggest ideas on what could be included in a Zone of Attention.


Swap allows a character to choose two targets within the Zone of Attention and literally swap their locations. Swap is great for forming 'What if?' questions.


Other is expressed in a simple sentence format:

Character does X X

The first 'X' is replaced by a verb/action and the second 'X' is replaced by a target for the action. I can choose a verb and a subject to complete a sentence such as:

Character does attack the plan

Other can also be used to suggest 'superhero' powers, so I can think of superhero-type powers and see what effect this has on the story. For example:

Character can subdue people

which may suggest a superpower that allows the character to make people fall asleep by touching them.


The Toolable supertool means that a character can make any person/object/thing/place capable of doing a chosen supertool. So, for example, a character could choose to make a wristwatch capable of superselecting people who have just won the lottery.

BOSNIA ' ' '

The acronym BOSNIA' ' ' is used to specify targets of supertools. BOSNIA stands for:

B. All but X (Where X is a chosen number)
O. One
S. Some
N. Number (Where a number must be specified)
I. Itself (Meaning an action is reflected back onto the user of the supertool)
A. All

The ' ' ' is a reminder of the possibility of carrying the action of the supertool over onto something associated with the initial target. So if an action is stated thus:

Man attacks dog

then the ' is a reminder of the possibility of:

Man attacks dog's owner.

The ' ' ' suggest the action can be carried even further:

Man attacks dog's owner's house.

Example of BOSNIA in use

Say for example my Zone of Attention is 'planet earth' and my directive for superselect is:

Superselect the angriest people

then each of the BOSNIA options could change that directive thus:

B: Superselect all but five angriest people
O: Superselect one angriest person
S: Superselect some angriest people
N: Superselect twenty angriest people
I: Superselect me as the angriest person
A: Superselect all the angriest people

and using ' ' ' could suggest:

Superselect the angriest people's friend's occupations.

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