As a writer, having ideas is one of the most important parts of your craft. But often it seems like one of the most difficult and challenging parts of the whole process.
How do you keep ideas flowing? How do you create a wealth of ideas to choose from? How do you make sure you get to the one killer idea that will make your advert, novel, article or blog post really stand out from the rest?
Some people like to wait for inspiration to strike. Most professional writers, however, don’t have that luxury. You need ideas every working day, not just every now and then.
Luckily, there is a formula for producing ideas on a consistent basis. Of course, like all formulas, it has its limits. You can’t constrain creativity, and to only ever use one method for coming up with ideas would be utter madness.
But if you need to produce strong and creative ideas regularly as part of your writing career, then it pays to know the formula, and how to use it.
First of all, what is an idea? Well, according to James Webb Young in his book ‘A Technique for Producing Ideas’, first published in the 1940s:
“An idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements.”
So how do you combine old elements into new? Luckily, Young tells us:
“The capacity to bring old elements into new combinations depends largely on the ability to see relationships.”
Young says the ability to see relationships between facts is the most important factor in coming up with ideas. This, he says, is a habit of mind “which can be cultivated.”
How do you cultivate it? By reading widely, taking an active interest in life, the world, people around you, a wide variety of subjects and areas of study.
There is also a formula, however, a five step plan which Young outlined in his book. By adding two more steps, you can complete a virtuous circle with a feedback loop that refines and extends your creativity.
When you envision fictional characters getting together, are they the most implausible, inappropriate pairings you can imagine? The ladies of Not Literally celebrate ludicrous fan ‘ships with their music video parody of Icona Pop’s “I Love It.”
“RPH: Closed RP in SWAG 77 means the cast members perform a story together. Non members and audience do NOT perform story RPs.”—Audience members may ask relevant questions, but they cannot during the performance.
“So we go over the broad story beats of something, and he just trusts myself and the writers and the rest of the team to really bring it to the screen”—
~ @Dave_Filoni response on StarWars.com Blog
StarWars.com: I know that George Lucas was heavily involved in the story creation of the show. Is there anything this season that he gave specific instructions on?
Dave Filoni: Not particularly. I mean, I would say that the origin of the idea, Darth Maul will face Darth Sidious, is a George idea. “I want them to fight.” When it comes down to the directing of where they’re going to fight, the staging of the fight, that’s all what I do and bring to the table. So we go over the broad story beats of something, and he just trusts myself and the writers and the rest of the team to really bring it to the screen. I think that freedom and trust from him is what in some ways makes this show. We’re challenging more boundaries and not reciting things so much. We’re developing more and experimenting more and I think the results are all part of that collaboration.
Karen Traviss's response to the FAQ if she hates the Jedi:
Karen Traviss’s response to the FAQ if she hates the Jedi:
Is it true you hate Jedi?
I get asked this a fair bit. Well, you asked, so you’d better be ready for the answer. Because it’s not funny, on-message Karen talking now. This is about serious stuff - psychological underpinnings of attitudes.
And “you” here means - if the cap fits, honey, then wear it.
No sane human can hate someone who doesn’t actually exist. From a writer’s perspective, the more super-powers characters acquire, the harder it is to develop logical story arcs and true human drama…but I don’t have any real feelings about fictional characters that stay with me once I step out of character-point-of-view-writing mode and get on with my life. The characters don’t exist. I recognise, though, when they press a button in me and I see they’re a conduit or a cypher for stuff I don’t like in the real world. I’m very self aware. When a character pisses me off - not as a writer, but as a person - I ask: “Okay, what does this tell me about myself?”
I can do that, however uncomfortable it is. It’s the reason I can change my mind if I’m presented with new facts. I recognise I don’t have a permanent right answer in my head, and that my own subconscious needs to be dragged out into the light of day on a regular basis.
My real problem, then, is not with fictional Jedi, but with the people who refuse to believe they can do no wrong. And by that I mean the people who believe it, not the harmless majority who just enjoy Jedi-centric stories as entertainment. I know just how deeply held that conviction is by some folks, and when those people try to argue a certain specific point with me, I can see that their line between fiction and reality is way too blurred. I can see their real views on life surfacing. I know where my real views impinge on the unreal, so I can see it in others.
The fiction you regularly choose, and the passion with which you defend it, tells me an awful lot about what goes on in your head. Very few people deliberately choose to read material - fiction or otherwise - that doesn’t reinforce their real-life worldview. Most people don’t set out to be alienated or offended by their reading material. They tend to settle with what they like - what fits their comfort zone. So if you get pretty het up about anyone suggesting the Jedi might have made a few immoral decisions - or anything else, come to that - chances are it relates to something you actually believe in for real. It wouldn’t upset you otherwise. Would it?
I start to back away from Jedi-worshippers at that point. I’m troubled by deferential forelock-tugging to supposed genetic superiors at the best of times, which is why I personally find the genetic Jedi concept sinister, but there’s an especially disturbing kind of arse-kissing that makes me recoil. It’s the kind that says the Jedi are always justified when they do seriously bad shit, because - well, they’re the good guys, and what good guys do is never bad, right?
Well, I worry that it’s even less naively benign than that in adult readers. Like the big guy in black said: look into your heart. You know it to be true. Okay, you’ve been told they’re the good guys. If you’re a child, I’ll cut you some slack. But if you’re not - and the majority of Jedi-nutters are old enough to have the vote - I have to ask if you believe everything you’re told as obediently and unquestioningly as that in real life. Because if you do, you scare me.
Now, if you like Jedi because Luke is basically an ordinary guy who finds the hero in himself, great. If you like lightsabers and impossible martial arts moves, bully for you. If it’s just fun for you, and you don’t feel mortally wounded when someone suggests that the Jedi might not actually be completely perfect, fine. You pass the harmless test.
But once you’re past the age of puberty and you start arguing passionately with me that the Jedi were right to accept a slave army of cloned human beings and use them in war, and cloned humans aren’t proper humans like us, and it was too bad the clones died, and the Jedi had no choice - well, sweetheart, I want to run a mile from you. Not the Jedi, who - just to remind you - are a figment of various writers’ imaginations, just like the clones. You. If I see that you really mean it, and you’re making excuses in your own mind for the Jedi just following orders on that delicate point, then you scare the living crap out of me. For real.
Because it’s clear to me that you believe deep down in real life that some human lives are worth less than others, and so it’s okay to end them. Whether you realise that or not. Because if you don’t believe it at that fundamental level, then why do you get so damned angry with me when I rock the boat of your fictional beliefs? It’s just a kids’ fantasy story. You could shrug and move on. But the fact that you rage about it means it’s hit a real nerve in you, in the core of your real beliefs.
So, either you’re nuts, and you genuinely believe that an evil wizard who shoots lightning out of his fingers is threatening your well-being, or you might just have some ugly supremacist attitudes to your fellow man that you can’t acknowledge even to yourself.
Am I making you feel uncomfortable? I hope so.
I’m sure you think you’re a nice decent person who’s kind to animals, recycles faithfully, and fills in tax returns honestly. Maybe you believe in God, too. But to me, you’re someone who harbours a vile and degrading belief in the concept of Untermensch - the idea that some humans aren’t human at all, and we can do as we like with them, for whatever arbitrary value we put on the words “real human.” You’re looking for ways to sift your kind of human from the humans who don’t matter, and who can be consigned to the fate of animals. In fact, if you use the phrase “real humans” at all, my case is proven.
That belief in a league table of humans - and the casual acceptance of it by nice people who were kind to animals and filled in their tax forms on time - led to the enslavement and murder of millions.
It’s slave-owner-think: it’s Nazi-think. And yes, I bloody well hate it, and all those who think it.
It’s not about Jedi - who don’t even exist. It’s about you.
Keep sentences brief. ’You should write the shortest possible sentences using the shortest possible words, in the shortest possible paragraphs, not because people are dimwits or because they’re busy - they’re not that dim or that busy - but because force comes from the…
I get questions like this a lot, so instead of having pages of asks, I’m just making a huge list. I will add more as I find them! If you have more you’d like to add, send me a message!
RPG/RP- stands for roleplay game or just roleplay
1x1- a roleplay between two people (hence one by one)
Indie/Independent- roleplayers who are not a part of a bigger RPG and roleplay a character they created on their own, with other independent roleplayers
Crossover- a roleplay involving two different fandoms (i.e, The Vampire Diaries and The Hunger Games)
AU- stands for alternate universe, meaning the roleplay takes place in one
FC- stands for face claim, usually a celebrity who represents a character’s face.
Affiliates- are other roleplays that one would be associated with, to gain more popularity within the roleplay community
OOC/IC: out of character, in character
Magic Anon- sometimes called m!anon, it is a suggestion/order by an anon of what your character should do for a certain period of time (i.e, gender swap, turn into a cat/dog)
RFP- means removed for privacy, and is most likely seen on an accepted application
OC- original character (as in one you write yourself, not the admins)
RPH- stands for roleplay helper, and they do not do reviews
RPC- stands for roleplay critic, do reviews
RPA- stands for roleplay advice, though I’m not sure the difference between them and RPHs
Mascot- the “face claim” of an RPCH (mine is Ashley Benson, for example)
Ship- a romantic relationship that a roleplayer would support, whether it is canon or not
Canon- basically means “official”, that is stated by the admins if it is actually a real ship that they created.
Headcanon- a belief that a roleplayer has that did not actually happen.
Crackship- an “unusual” ship between two people that would most likely never happen (although we all want it to), like Logan Lerman and myself.
OTP- stands for one true pairing, meaning you ship them really hard. Like Logan Lerman and myself.
Chemistry- you will most likely see this in auditions, where people say, “I ship x with chemistry” and all it means is that they want their character to be with one that works well with them in interactions and not just by the bio.
Para- short for paragraph, “para” is essentially a story between your character and another, describing them interacting together. It’s purpose, in most cases, is for the roleplayer to develop their character’s personality and reflect on their emotions/feelings, and is usually 2-4 paragraphs long. Example here.
Sample para- is what you write for auditions, so that the admins of the roleplay can decide whether they believe you have captured the character’s personality accurately. Example here.
Self para- is a para a roleplayer would write with their character only, meaning nobody would reblog it and add their half. Its purpose is for the roleplayer to develop their character and delve into their thoughts. Example here.
Reblog as text- means to reblog the post…as text… How to do so is here.
Cut your posts- means to delete some of the previous writing in a post so it is not lengthy and doesn’t clog up the dash. How to do so is here.
You don’t understand. If we RP together, I want you to wake me up at 5am with ideas. I want to lose sleep over the fact that they’ve broken up, I want the manips, I want the chatzys, I want the broken heart and the tears. I want all of that. Its part of the experience of falling in love with RP, and its why I started the whole thing in the first place.
Have not seen many “live” through their RP blog here. But on other social media sites, like Facebook, it is founded on ships. Some hope that these ships will become real. On Facebook, most people that are accepted on your personal profile are your friends, you have a connected relationship with them. If you create a secondary profile account, you will connect with individuals you don’t know - you’ve never met them. You don’t know where they come from.
PAGES are different. You create the page and people CHOOSE to LIKE the page, verses a request and accept to make that ship. There is a connection when “making friends” on a profile page versus a LIKE or FOLLOW (on Tumblr and Twitter). Being accepted among people is what we want to feel being included in a group.
When you RP like this on Facebook, when there are disagreements that cause blocking or unfriending, it psychological hurts. It is because of this acceptance into the fold.
When using a page, it’s not like that. Someone unlikes a page, so what, lose a few fans - unless it’s a group block.
At any rate, when you invest in your RP, please separate your MUSE from you MUN. Don’t FORCE a ship. Just RP your storyline.
Promoting seems to be warped in the roleplay community. Some think it’s smart to make stupid ‘hey look im eating a kookie’ posts and others believe that making obnoxiously long plot bios and posting them works. I’m here to show you the easy medium that I’ve always used in the past, and it always worked immensely well for me, hopefully it works for you as well.
Lets start off this with me saying, never, ever, ever make a post saying ‘lots of open roles brand new roleplay in need of members’ or anything along those lines. People want to join a roleplay group that has a lot of members already. Also, something that draws them in is seeing there are a lot of males already. ((Don’t ask me why)) But never request for more males.
Do villains need to rape, torture or mutilate people for us to hate them? Or maybe the reverse is true: Sometimes we can invest more in a villain, if his or her evildoing is creative and leaves more to our imaginations. Sometimes with villains, brutality is the lesser path. Here’s our plea for more subtle monsters.
100 Questions to Ask About Your Role-Playing Character
Part 1:The Basics
1. What is your full name?
2. Where and when were you born?
3. Who are/were your parents? (Know their names, occupations, personalities, etc.)
4. Do you have any siblings? What are/were they like?
5. Where do you live now, and with whom? Describe the place and the person/people.
6. What is your occupation?
7. Write a full physical description of yourself. You might want to consider factors such as:height, weight, race, hair and eye color, style of dress, and any tattoos, scars, or distinguishing marks.
8. To which social class do you belong?
9. Do you have any allergies, diseases, or other physical weaknesses?
10. Are you right- or left-handed?
11. What does your voice sound like?
12. What words and/or phrases do you use very frequently?
13. What do you have in your pockets?
14. Do you have any quirks, strange mannerisms, annoying habits, or other defining characteristics?
Part 2:Growing Up
15. How would you describe your childhood in general?
16. What is your earliest memory?
17. How much schooling have you had?
18. Did you enjoy school?
19. Where did you learn most of your skills and other abilities?
20. While growing up, did you have any role models? If so, describe them.
21. While growing up, how did you get along with the other members of your family?
22. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
23. As a child, what were your favorite activities?
24. As a child, what kinds of personality traits did you display?
25. As a child, were you popular? Who were your friends, and what were they like?
26. When and with whom was your first kiss?
27. Are you a virgin? If not, when and with whom did you lose your virginity?
28. If you are a supernatural being (i.e. mage, werewolf, vampire), tell the story of how you became what you are or first learned of your own abilities. If you are just a normal human, describe any influences in your past that led you to do the things you do today.
Part 3:Past Influences
29. What do you consider the most important event of your life so far?
30. Who has had the most influence on you?
31. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
32. What is your greatest regret?
33. What is the most evil thing you have ever done?
34. Do you have a criminal record of any kind?
35. When was the time you were the most frightened?
36. What is the most embarrassing thing ever to happen to you?
37. If you could change one thing from your past, what would it be, and why?
38. What is your best memory?
39. What is your worst memory?
Part 4:Beliefs And Opinions
40. Are you basically optimistic or pessimistic?
41. What is your greatest fear?
42. What are your religious views?
43. What are your political views?
44. What are your views on sex?
45. Are you able to kill? Under what circumstances do you find killing to be acceptable or unacceptable?
46. In your opinion, what is the most evil thing any human being could do?
47. Do you believe in the existence of soul mates and/or true love?
48. What do you believe makes a successful life?
49. How honest are you about your thoughts and feelings (i.e. do you hide your true self from others, and in what way)?
50. Do you have any biases or prejudices?
51. Is there anything you absolutely refuse to do under any circumstances? Why do you refuse to do it?
52. Who or what, if anything, would you die for (or otherwise go to extremes for)?
Part 5:Relationships With Others
53. In general, how do you treat others (politely, rudely, by keeping them at a distance, etc.)? Does your treatment of them change depending on how well you know them, and if so, how?
54. Who is the most important person in your life, and why?
55. Who is the person you respect the most, and why?
56. Who are your friends? Do you have a best friend? Describe these people.
57. Do you have a spouse or significant other? If so, describe this person.
58. Have you ever been in love? If so, describe what happened.
59. What do you look for in a potential lover?
60. How close are you to your family?
61. Have you started your own family? If so, describe them. If not, do you want to? Why or why not?
62. Who would you turn to if you were in desperate need of help?
63. Do you trust anyone to protect you? Who, and why?
64. If you died or went missing, who would miss you?
65. Who is the person you despise the most, and why?
66. Do you tend to argue with people, or avoid conflict?
67. Do you tend to take on leadership roles in social situations?
68. Do you like interacting with large groups of people? Why or why not?
69. Do you care what others think of you?
Part 6:Likes And Dislikes
70. What is/are your favorite hobbies and pastimes?
71. What is your most treasured possession?
72. What is your favorite color?
73. What is your favorite food?
74. What, if anything, do you like to read?
75. What is your idea of good entertainment (consider music, movies, art, etc.)?
76. Do you smoke, drink, or use drugs? If so, why? Do you want to quit?
77. How do you spend a typical Saturday night?
78. What makes you laugh?
79. What, if anything, shocks or offends you?
80. What would you do if you had insomnia and had to find something to do to amuse yourself?
81. How do you deal with stress?
82. Are you spontaneous, or do you always need to have a plan?
83. What are your pet peeves?
Part 7:Self Images And Etc.
84. Describe the routine of a normal day for you. How do you feel when this routine is disrupted?
85. What is your greatest strength as a person?
86. What is your greatest weakness?
87. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
88. Are you generally introverted or extroverted?
89. Are you generally organized or messy?
90. Name three things you consider yourself to be very good at, and three things you consider yourself to be very bad at.
91. Do you like yourself?
92. What are your reasons for being an adventurer (or doing the strange and heroic things that RPG characters do)? Are your real reasons for doing this different than the ones you tell people in public? (If so, detail both sets of reasons…)
93. What goal do you most want to accomplish in your lifetime?
94. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
95. If you could choose, how would you want to die?
96. If you knew you were going to die in 24 hours, name three things you would do in the time you had left.
97. What is the one thing for which you would most like to be remembered after your death?
98. What three words best describe your personality?
99. What three words would others probably use to describe you?
100. If you could, what advice would you, the player, give to your character? (You might even want to speak as if he or she were sitting right here in front of you, and use proper tone so he or she might heed your advice…)
I have a newsletter and I’m looking for writers. We do an original Star Wars fan article every week. If interested contact me at email@example.com. You can see our latest edition here: http://eepurl.com/CvcFX.
SWAG 77 is the Star Wars Actors Guild 77. We tell stories on social media. We write a lot of fan created fiction and we challenge Star Wars fans to write a “starter” piece for us that shows off your Star Wars fandom.