“I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them.” —Pablo Picasso
Pop! We get an interesting idea and race to our canvas, word processer, or potter’s wheel. Paint flows, words stream, or clay flies. Our critics say, “Nice.”
Nice? What happened to “Wow!”?
We can turn an interesting idea into an awesome one if we sit a while and release our creative brains from their cages to prowl. We can take an interesting idea and twist it, spin it around, turn it upside down, mash it, expand it, explode it, and add sprinkles to it. We pounce on the most fascinating distortion and work our masterpiece.
Examples may be the best way to show what I mean. Have fun with the brainstorming process.
Example 1: Years ago the folks at a major cola company took the idea of its bestselling product and turned it upside down. The company drained the sugar, replaced it with artificial sweetener, and came up with its bestselling product: diet cola.
Example 2: Someone had a teen gleaning ministry idea but spun it around. My oldest son attended a Society of St. Andrew’s gleaning weekend. On the last night after gathering potatoes all day, exhausted teens sat at three tables for their evening meal. The staff served the teens a full dinner at one table: chicken, mashed potatoes, salad, buttered rolls, and dessert. At the second table, they served the teens sandwiches and fruit. These teens balked.
The teens at the third table stared at the single plops of rice on their plates. These unfortunate teens were outraged. The rice didn’t satisfy their hunger. Some begged at the other tables. Others went to bed hungry.
A few teens from the first and second tables ate faster to protect their meals from the rice-eating teens. Several felt compassion and shared their food with the ones without much to eat.
Teens learned first hand how it felt to have little food when others around them had plenty. The better-fed teens experienced unmerited favor and the reality of the needy. The lesson this creative ministry taught impacted the teens more than preaching about the less fortunate in our societies.
Example 3: Courses in the writing craft teach us how to write good scenes. Among other things, writers are to look at the characters’ goals for the scene, then explode their goals. Writers are to ask themselves, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” and write their answer into the scene. Characters facing and overcoming conflicts and obstacles make a great story.
Example 4: While sitting at the green of the Champions Golf Tournament with my sister, I saw young caddies standing next to each other, one female, one male. They looked cute together. He was tall and slim, and her blond ponytail protruded from the back of her pink ball cap. The what-ifs exploded in my mind. I mentioned the romance idea to my sister.
At home, I brainstormed how I could turn “cute” into a gripping story. This is the story I’m working on. I twisted their normal-looking lives into challenging heartaches below their cute appearances. I hope my sister will be surprised at the finished product.
Can you share examples of how you have warped an idea into something intriguing?
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I expanded the book and sit-down game, “I’m Going on a Bear Hunt” into a large muscle activity for my BSF preschoolers. I had the children pack imaginary backs, with sun screen, a hat, a towel, bug spray, binoculars, apples, a camera, medicine spray and Band-Aids. We traveled through, mosquito infested swamps (bug spray was necessary), cold rivers (towel), desert (hat and sun screen), over mountains (binoculars), up trees (med spray and Band-Aids) in search of the the bear I assured them that I saw (I see a bear). We approach the bear cave on tip toes and take his picture. He sees us and the chase is on. Up the tree. (Throwing our apples) Apples slow him down a bit only to give us a head start as we go back over the mountain, through the desert, river and swamp until we finally get to a zoo with an open cage that we trick the bear into.
Marcia, that’s a great expansion to The Bear Hunt. Love the throwing the apples at the bears.