Firing Up the Imagination by Allison Symes

Image Credit:  Images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

One of the ways I fire up my imagination is to use random generators. 

 I’ve used the following to good effect.

  • Random Noun/Adjective/Verb generators.
  • Random Question generators (good for giving ideas for themes, sometimes titles).
  • Random Number generators (I’ve used a number as a countdown in a story. I’ve also used it as part of an address where the action happened).
  • Random Name generators (where you can generate a first name, surname, or both).
  • Random Picture generator. If I select a landscape I come up with who might live there and what happens to them in this landscape. If I select a picture of a person, I prefer those where they are doing something, such as walking away from the camera at the time the shot was taken. I can rough out a story around that. Who is this person? What or whom are they walking away from? Could they be walking towards something instead?

A successful generator makes me ask questions. I need to be asking a couple  of questions and the ideas start to come. 

All of the generators allow you to set parameters so you can get even more out of these things by just changing what you select. I opt for two or three random things as I find by then the ideas are starting and I jot down the different choices occurring to me.

 I like the generators as they force me to think outside of my usual box and keep me on my toes as a result. I must respond to the challenge of “what can I come up with for this generated word”. Because the things are generated, I cannot influence what comes up (other than by changing the parameters).

I guess the generators are the modern day equivalent of story dice and the like and there are endless possibilities available. I like to think of it as giving my old brain a workout.

The classic way to fire up the imagination is to read widely and in the last five years or so, I’ve developed a love for non-fiction, especially history. It wasn’t that I’ve disliked non-fiction. It was more of a case of thinking I want to read, I’ll automatically go to fiction. 

Fiction does still make up the majority of my reading “diet” but I think I have a better balance now. I’ve also found mixing up what I read in terms of novels, short stories, flash fiction, magazines (print and online), articles, non-fiction books, blogs etc encourages the imagination to work.

I’m starting to get out and about for author/book events so can now resume the old favourite of people watching and picking up on any interesting snippets of conversation I could use for potential characters.

I like to mix up how I write my flash fiction and short stories and it is all great practice for producing work I can submit to competitions and markets. The generators are another useful tool here.



Ruth Leigh said…
That is interesting. I've only ever used the random generator once, for a blog title, but it sounds as though it could be a really useful tool
Allison Symes said…

Thanks, Ruth. I've found the generators so useful. The modern equivalent of story dice I suppose.

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