In this writing tips video we are going to talk about idea generation, including how to come up with ideas and working with groups on ideas. You can just watch the video but we are going to talk in a bit more depth and include some links to help you with this.
In some ways working alone can be difficult as you need to come up with ideas yourself. A simple way to start is with a spider diagram (using an example from the video let’s say we wanted to write a sitcom about a badger).
As you can see, we have written out things we associate with badgers and sitcoms. Using this example let’s say we want to write this as a pilot. We need to think of a plot that could introduce the characters and the setup that will entice people to view a full series.
Personally the way I like to start is with a TV Guide style summary:
At Home With The Badgers- Lenny Badger lives underground with his wife Margaret but dreams of a better life, though this is made difficult by the fact he is a badger. He is often tempted into get rich quick schemes by his wacky neighbour Ian Fox. In this opening episode his attempt to enter the black market trade in illicit meat results in the vicar falling off his bicycle and losing his trousers.
Of course this is just one example of a way to generate ideas. Another is to look at different sources- watching sitcoms, researching badgers and looking at other forms of media and real life inspiration could help. Be prepared to go outside your comfort zone. For example if you write horror and mainly watch modern horror films, watch an 80’s slasher or a 70’s Hammer horror film to mix it up a bit, or read some Victorian Gothic literature like Dr Jekyll or Goblin Market.
For more examples of exercises to help jog your inspiration check out Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down The Bones.
Having someone else to bounce ideas off can work as well, especially when working on something like a comedy sketch. When it comes to the collaborative process, it helps to establish the way the relationship works. For example, you may have someone who is better at generating ideas, while someone else is better at writing up the sketch and creating the framework.
Parodies often work well as there is something to play off. For example if I was going to parody a Marvel Cinematic Universe film I might work in how they are owned by Disney, or have them having to deal with awkward questions (there is a brilliant Warp Zone sketch where they ask “Why don’t they all have Iron Man suits?”)
Of course you can equally apply this approach to other forms of comedy sketch as well. In general “What if…?” is a good question to ask when it comes to creating new ideas, or as a way of looking at other issues in your work.
If you have a specific question about writing or would like to know more about the topics we’ve covered please comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org