Thursday, September 29, 2011

Symbols & Words

One way to exercise your imagination and come up with some new story ideas is to use online generators that provide you with random prompts. The latest I've found, The Creative Idea Generator, is very simple and quite fun to use. You click on a word, image or surprise button to produce words and symbols, then move and rearrange them to create different pairings, idea clouds, plot circles, etc. It's almost like making your own story road signs, which is great for sparking ideas.

Here's a screenshot of my first test drive:

I paired the symbols with the words at random and then rearranged a few as ideas started forming. The downstairs symbol + "contract" made me at once think of someone who sells their soul to Satan (this is probably because I just reread The Grimrose Path by Rob Thurman) but I also got a very strong image of a nice cleaning lady character who doesn't just clean up corporate offices.

Other random story ideas I had: Where do you keep an important hostage? On a boat. A plague that turns 99% of the population into sleepwalkers who act out their dreams. When the ski lift fails, all that saves you is your scarf. A bug that either contaminates the world's petroleum supply, or renders it obsolete. An alien blade so beautiful that to look at it blinds you (the blade made of light has already been done.) A murder mystery where a writer kills everyone who violates his copyright -- or maybe an editor or someone tries to kill him over an inconvenient copyright. Fish and chips, I need to eat dinner (and I did have fish and chips last night, so it even inspired a meal.)

This generator is especially useful because we all interpret images and words differently, thus no two people are going to get the exact same ideas from it. I like the simplicity, too; it prods your imagination without overwhelming you with a lot of data.

Link nicked from Gerard at The Generator Blog.


  1. OOOH thank you for this! This is great. Might be good for short stories!

  2. When I clicked on the link, all it gave me was a blank white screen bearing a strong resemblance to the blank white paper that plagues the writer with writer's block. lol I'll keep trying.


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