How to COME UP WITH IDEAS

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Don't have any ideas for a story? Have too many? I think I can help you out.

I read a fascinating article today (linked to in the External Link). Researchers University of Electronic Science and Technology in Chengdu, China translated brain waves into music. As stated in the article, "Besides combining science with art, the researchers hope that, one day, brain music can be used to help people control their brain waves, easing conditions such as anxiety and depression." Of course my writer mind went berserk with ideas.

If you're at a loss of what to write about, make a list of everything you like and mix and match the weirdest and most incompatible ones. It's a lot easier than you think, and your plots will be so much more creative and unpredictable that way.

For example, if you really like orchestra and computers, why not have a character whose a violinist by day, hacker by night? His viruses, when active, play a Beethoven song, and that catches the interest of another, more hardcore hacker who has a job for this musical computer nerd.

If you like old temples, space ships, and potato chips, how about a character living on a space station who kills time on a virtual reality simulator, and his choice of virtual reality is always exploring old ruins? He stumbles across a bag of potato chips in the virtual world, which shouldn't be there. It's a back door for a hacker to come in and hack the space station.

Hm, are you thinking what I'm thinking? That potato-chip hacker could be the Beethoven hacker from the previous example. See how seemingly disjointed ideas can be naturally linked?

If you're on the other end of the spectrum with far too many plot bunnies, and you can't pick just one to work on, try combining them! All you need is a single element for the link. In my example above, it was the hacker.

Even if you think the plots are fine separated, it wouldn't hurt to give this a shot! You might end up with a brilliantly wacky and creative masterpiece. Combing plots can also gives you a lot more unique plot twists and make your plot less predictable because the plot itself is so unique.

"I'm a great believer in gathering together all your obsessions and seeing if you can make a novel out of them."  --Scarlett Thomas


Now, try your hand at the following exercises:

EXERCISE:
In the comments below, make a list of at least 3 things that interest/fascinate you (the more different they are from each other, the better! Don't just write "chocolate cake, fried chicken, and ice cream"), and write a 1-2 sentence summary of a plot/character that combines those things like I did above.

ALTERNATE EXERCISE:
If you have multiple plot bunnies, post a quick 1-2 sentence summary of each in the comments and combine them into a single plot.

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