We live in an Information Age, which is dominated by wireless digital technology. We are offered instant access to countless media texts and images. The publishing, television and film industries provide us with a multitude of entertainment options. So due to this high level saturation of information and ideas, how can a writer come up with an original idea for a story? This is a challenging question, and don’t despair – there are answers.
To be able to offer your reader or viewer an idea that is fresh and unique, you need to ‘think outside the box’ or outside the expected creative framework. Writers need to engage in creative brainstorming.
Most experienced readers/viewers are pretty savvy when it comes to reading a book or watching a film. They recognize a story archetype or a ‘done to death’ scenario straight away. For example: 1. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, but they face challenges to their relationship, and after overcoming these challenges – love conquers all.
2. A young hero has been blessed with extraordinary powers, but he is a misunderstood loner and while he struggles to control his newfound powers, he also finds he has to battle a supernatural nemesis. Can you put a film title to any of these? I think you get what I am saying here. Not that these ideas are bad. We love these story scenarios. The Hollywood dream machine thrives on them. But there is so much more potential locked up in the creative brain. Sometimes we have to take up the challenge of bringing something new to the table.
So brainstorm ideas. Make a list of any crazy ideas that come to mind. Explore a tried and tested genre, like science fiction, and come up with a new scenario and characters. Real life experiences are a good choice. You can not get more creative and unique that that. Be observant. People watching will ignite your creative neural pathways – but don’t be weird when your people watching. Be cool!
I will leave you with a thought on how to brainstorm brilliant story ideas by John Marsden, the author of Tomorrow When the War Began. “Imagination includes the ability to leave your mind and go into…another place, another time” (1993, p. 58).
It is time to start creative brainstorming and discover brilliant ideas!
NEXT WEEK: more narrative building blocks for creative writing.
Marsden, J 1993, Everything I Know About Writing, Pan Macmillan Australia.