Saturday, October 06, 2007

A Brainstorming Challenge aided by a Switch to Story-writing

I've found that some techniques I've developed for my fiction project are proving useful for creating ideas for brainstorming/creative challenges.

My approach -- once I've found a challenge -- involves creating a simple scenario of a story (that involves the challenge) and then adding some simple dialogue created with some dialogue techniques I've devised.

I'll use the following challenge (from BrainReactions' Brainstorming Tool) :

Describe the "eco" parking lot (Don't it always seem to go That you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. (Joni Mitchell) What can we do to turn the parking lot back into paradise?)

Into a Story

Stepping "into story" helps me to attack a brainstorming challenge from a different angle. My first step is to set up a simple scenario. In this case, I opt to imagine that a driver has just driven his car into the car park and is approached by the car park attendant.

Simple Dialogue

I'll create some simple dialogue. To do this I use a random word -- usually of one syllable -- and then add either a question mark (obviously to indicate a question) or an exclamation mark (to indicate either an exclamation or an order). So, with the parking attendant initiating the dialogue, with the random word "not" and an exclamation mark added I get:

Parking Attendant: Not!

The aim at this point is to ask myself what meaning I would infer from this utterance if I was in the position of the driver. Maybe:

Attendant: You're not parking here!

To carry on with the story, I can add more dialogue and -- bearing in mind that this is a challenge about the eco car park -- see if any ideas can be generated.

Attendant: You're not parking here!

Driver: Why not?

Attendant: Wrong car!

Why would this be the wrong car? This thought lead to the idea that maybe the eco car park could ban any "gas guzzling" vehicles or vehicles over a certain size. Or, maybe the eco car park could offer lower charges for smaller vehicles?

Another example

With the same situation, the random word "mouse" and an added question mark, I get:

Attendant: Mouse?

What meaning would I infer if I was in the position of the driver? Maybe:

Attendant: Have you got a mouse in your car?

As this is (perhaps) a little strange I can make it more general:

Attendant: Have you got any extra passengers?

Without any further dialogue created, this gave me the idea that discounts could be offered for drivers who carpool.

So, three new ideas have been generated there. Nothing world changing, but it's three new ideas I didn't have ten minutes ago! I'll add them to the challenge on the Brainstorming Tool.


The key points are that I "step into story" -- a simple story scenario is generated about a brainstorm challenge -- and the simplest of dialogue is created with an added "!" or "?" to add a little flavour to the dialogue. I then see if the developments suggest any new ideas.

Hopefully this is just a first look into how creating stories (and developing techniques for writing the stories) can suggest ideas for brainstorming/creative challenges.

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