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Stretching Creativity  John Caruso
 Jul 07, 2005 14:40 PDT 

“Stretching Creativity”

For today’s Daily Grind, we’re going to get right into an exercise. Take
your pen in hand and consider this scenario:

“For two summers, he had whined to his mother to let him ride the roller
coaster by himself. Finally she consented. If she hadn’t, he and 27
others wouldn’t be hanging upside down as rescue workers scrambled below
trying to figure out why the ride abruptly stopped in mid-loop.”

Now sit down and write 10 possible answers to the question, “what’s
going on here?” Take your time, I’ll wait.

When you’re done, look over what you wrote. Were your paragraphs all
similar, just a variation on a theme? Were they wildly different? Did
your paragraphs focus on the event at hand or did you explore the back
story? The future?

As writers, we need to stretch our creativity. When our writing presents
us with a problem, we should rely on our creativity to get us out. That
problem may be a sticky plot point, a troublesome character, or even a
setting that “feels” wrong. Instead of sweeping the problem under the
rug of procrastination, sit down and think of ten different ways to
approach it. The key is to use your imagination. Some of your solutions
will be straight forward, even a bit mundane. But the more you write,
the more you will find yourself discovering new and unexpected
solutions. Let’s consider just a few possible responses for our hapless
roller coaster rider:

--When the workers finally rescue the riders, the boy is reunited with
his frantic mother who just keeps repeating, “I knew it! I knew it!” It
is years before she lets him out of her sight.

--The boy discovers that he isn’t afraid of his predicament at all, and
decides he wants to become the guy that gets shot out of a cannon at the
circus.

--The coaster gives way and the morning papers report on the “Horrible
Roller Coaster Tragedy.”

--The boy deliberately sabotaged the ride in hopes of receiving sympathy
from a mother whom he feels no longer cares for him ever since his baby
sister’s birth three months prior.

--In a fit of electromagnetic rage, the mutant sitting behind the boy
froze the coaster in mid loop.

--While upside down, the contents of the boy’s pockets empty. His lucky
penny—the one made during his birth year and which got bent some
how—hurtles towards earth, never to be recovered. This begins a string
of unlucky events.

--One of the rescuers turns out to be the boy’s father, who, six years
earlier, went down to the corner to get a pack of cigarettes and never
returned.

--The mother deliberately sabotaged the ride in hopes of showing her son
the dangers of riding a roller coaster alone.

--As a result of his ordeal, the boy will never be able to think about
funnel-cakes without also thinking about vomiting.

--The boy wiggles out of his restraints, plummets to the ground, and at
the last minute manages to make a perfect dive into the small pond below
the ride. He swims to the shore and is greeted by the resounding
applause of the gathered masses.

--The boy wiggles out of his restraints, plummets to the ground, and at
the last minute manages to make a perfect dive into the small pond below
the ride. He swims to the shore and is greeted by the resounding
applause of the gathered masses. He then wakes up from a dream to find
that he had wet the bed and rolled off the mattress.

These are but a few examples that popped into my head. With some thought
and imagination, I’m sure I’d come up with loads more. Most will be
unusable, some will be good, and a precious few will be downright
inspired. The important part is to just write them all down so you can
sort through them later. Does it matter if your solutions are plausible?
Not in the slightest. The whole point of this exercise is to get you
thinking in new ways.

For those ambitious ones in the crowd, try taking one of the bits you
wrote and use THAT as a jumping off point for another round of
paragraphs.

And by the way, double bonus points to all of you that didn’t stop at
10. Hopefully, as you wrote, you became so energized by your creativity
that you whizzed right past the arbitrary “10” mark and kept coming up
with more and more stories.


John Caruso
caruso-@gmail.com


Copyright 2005, John Caruso
	
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