Saturday, August 05, 2006

How to create new ideas for existing TV shows

Here is a simple approach that can create ideas for new episodes of existing TV shows. There are four stages:

List TV shows
List simple information about the show
Represent the simple information
State the information in "idea form" and apply changes to the focus word

List TV shows

I start by making a list of TV shows. I can do this by using a resource such as the IMDB (which lists TV shows in addition to movies) or by triggering my memory using naming/listing (I have a thing about everything being achievable with just a pen and paper -- "imagination is greater than knowledge" and all that).

List simple information about the show

For this example I will choose the Antiques Roadshow. I want to list simple, key information about the show. I can do this in two ways: by finding key information in the title or by making a simple description of the show.

Information in the title:

Information contained within the title "Antiques Roadshow" is: antiques, roadshow, road and show.

Simple description:

I can imagine making a simple description of the show to someone who's never heard of or seen the show: it's a show where members of the public bring in antiques and have them valued by experts.

Representing this information

I represent this information in the format "Antiques Roadshow has X" which, with my information gathered, gives:

Antiques Roadshow has antiques
Antiques Roadshow has roadshow
Antiques Roadshow has road (the location)
Antiques Roadshow has show
Antiques Roadshow has members of the public
Antiques Roadshow has valuations
Antiques Roadshow has experts

State the information in "idea form" and apply changes to the focus word

I choose one of the above items of information, and write it in "idea form". Thus:

The new Antiques Roadshow has antiques.

The last word in the sentence -- antiques -- is the focus word. I will be carrying out two kinds of operation on the focus word -- naming/listing and reverse-reach -- to generate the ideas.

Naming/listing the focus word

(See also 500 uses for a paperclip: stepping up the concept level and naming/listing which discusses this technique.)

At this stage I want to name as many examples of antiques as I can. Here are some examples:

Book antiques = antique books. July antiques = antiques made in July. Half antiques = unfinished antiques. Proper antiques = antiques that are, without doubt, authentic. Wish antiques = the most desirable antiques. Pretend antiques = antique toys. Ship antiques = antiques in transit. David Soul antiques = valuable props from TV shows. 100 antiques = antiques that are one hundred years old.

Once this listing has been completed the "idea form" sentence is made into the final idea by adding any/all of the information listed above. So if I choose "the most desirable antiques" my sentence reads:

The new Antiques Roadshow has the most desirable antiques.

So this would suggest an episode of the show where the most desirable antiques are featured -- perhaps something like the top-ten of antiques by auction value, or the top-ten most valuable museum exhibits in the country etc.


With the reverse-reach operation I consider the focus word -- antiques -- and consider a question that someone could have posed that made me give "antiques" as an answer. For example:

Name something that burglars take
Name something old
Name a valuable object
Name something made by craftsmen that is valuable at a later date
Name something you'd see at the Queen's residences

I choose one of these. For this example I'll choose "valuable object". Next I treat "valuable object" as a concept in its own right and apply the naming/listing technique to valuable-object.

Dog valuable-object = diamond encrusted collar. Controversial valuable-object = abstract art. Equipment valuable-object = tools used by the Stradivarius family. Baby valuable-object = Elvis's dummy.

When the listing is complete I can choose either the prompter question (controversial valuable-object) or the answer (abstract art) to be used in the "idea form" sentence:

The new Antiques Roadshow has controversial valuable objects


The new Antiques Roadshow has abstract art

Perhaps the episode could be called "That's an antique?!" and would feature items that have an unexpected high value etc. such as works of art that consist of a canvas painted totally black.

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