Friday, November 2, 2012

Mechanical Creation

What is creativity, qua creativity?

To create is to put out something new. So, where does it come from? How can one be creative? or become creative?

I have heard that various mind-altering substances and alcohol can be used to shake new ideas out of the noggin. But that's not what I do.

I've never had any problem thinking outside the box, or considering something nobody else did. So, I take it for granted. I don't think I'm particularly creative, because I have some tricks that make it look as if I am. But these tricks are as mechanical as any algorithm you could program into a computer.


When physicists want to study new forms of matter, they take two thangs and smash them together. And the harder they smash them together the more interesting the stuff that flies out.

How do I apply this to story-telling? Take two unlikely things or characters and pair them together. Or force them together. To pick the two unlikely things, you can start with something extreme, say a nymphomaniac, and handcuff her to a celibate.

Or make the selection truly random. I asked a website to generate two random nounds. It gave me Actress and Yoghurt.

Suppose a struggling actress appears in a yoghurt commercial and
(a) she hates yoghurt,
(b) the commercial is wildly successful,
(c) she can't get other work b/c everyone says, "she's the yoghurt girl." 
That last part sounds familiar, so let's change it to (c) the yoghurt heir is desperately in love with her, but he knows she hates yoghurt. So, he hides his identity and pretend he hates yoghurt, too. Complications follow.

Take the two random nouns and follow the trains of thought associated with them. If that gets boring, start smashing those trains together like Gomez Addams did in the Addams Family TV show.

Crank it to 11.

Live is full of reasonable expectations. I once read a science fiction story where the protagonist is in Las Vegas and wakes up one morning to see that the casinos have been rearranged.

It is reasonable to expect huge buildings to remain stationary. But I thought, this is a science fiction story, perhaps somehow someone developed technology to move buildings around. Suppose moving casino across the street was as easy as moving one's car across the street. So, take your reasonable expectations and change them to something unreasonable. Suppose one triviality of your choosing became intractable, and/or one impossibility became trivial.

Get Freudian

You've got a perfectly good subconscious mind living rent-free in your head. You might as well put it to work. I tend to pound my head against a problem and acquaint myself with every aspect of it. Then go to sleep.

The next morning when I'm in the shower, my subconscious will ping, and an interesting thought will occur unbidden. It's just the way we're wired, use it.

Dreams work this way, too.

These things are so easy to contemplate that they almost go without saying.

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