Randomness to Spark Creativity

A while back I was playing with an online story idea generator. It puts random things together and gets ideas like this:

What if Marco Polo fought Lewis Carroll?
What if Columbus had access to robotics?
What if Montezuma was indirectly responsible for the Klondike Gold Rush?
What if the destruction of the Hindenburg involved witch-hunters?

So I had to laugh when I got to this one:
What if the fall of Mankind from the Garden of Eden involved forbidden knowledge?

It reminded me of the theory that a room full of monkeys tapping at keyboards for an infinite time period will eventually type Hamlet.

As a writer, I'm full of ideas, but sometimes none of them are the right idea for the moment, or they're just not gelling.  When I need inspiration, sometimes the randomness of these generators will spark an idea that my imagination then builds a fire with.  

You'll find all sorts of generators online: completely random but sometimes intriguing nonsense like above, customizable back-cover blurbs created from information you input, alien world generators, etc.  Obviously, your own imagination should do most of this for you, but taking a few minutes to laugh at the randomness will prime your creative pump if you find you're stuck in a rut.

Here's Seventh Sanctum's What-if-inator, where I got the above what ifs.

Melinda Brasher currently teaches English as a second language in the beautiful Czech Republic.  She loves the sound of glaciers calving and the smell of old books.  Her travel articles and short fiction appear in Go NomadInternational LivingElectric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and others.  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite published pieces, check out Leaving Home.  For something a little more medieval, read her YA fantasy novel, Far-KnowingVisit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com.


Suzanne Lieurance said...

These ideas remind me of a commercial I saw the other day. They were texting in medieval times - or something like that. When I saw it I thought, "How fun it would be to write a story that involved that."

Thanks for the ideas! Happy writing, everyone!

Karen Cioffi said...

Melinda, this is such a great idea for generating writing ideas! Thanks for sharing.

Melinda Brasher said...

The Marco Polo fights Lewis Carroll one reminds me of the "Epic Rap Battles of History" series by Nice Peter.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Melinda, randomness is a big part the motivation behind my obsessive travel! And when I'm editing, I try to go back and find random ways to express things instead of the same old. You know. Metaphors. Verbs. thanks for this!

Using Personality Typologies to Build Your Characters

  Contributed by Margot Conor People often have asked me how I build such varied and interesting character profiles. I’m fond of going into ...