The Human Mind Makes Relationships
Writing Exercise

Creativity happens at the confluence of two (or more) things that don't usually go together. The human mind has a knack to make unrelated things have something in common. It's why juxtaposition can be such a powerful (or funny) tool in writing. Random or contrasting phrases and sentences placed together create fascinating effects in the reader's mind. How can you take advantage of this effect for thematic, character, setting, or other story reason?

Try this interesting experiment: Intentionally use this technique to create an effect of disorder or psychedelia, alien-ness, or so forth appropriate to something you're working on. Pick two or more disparate, random themes, ideas, images, phrases, or so forth that seemingly don't go together and write a short scene, character, or story sketch about it. This could be a great way to come up with a new story! And give yourself a time limit so you don't over-think things: One hour, max, to develop the scene.

A few suggestions for getting started:

  • Pick one thing from each of these categories:
    •  A common object (candle, grass, stop sign, and so on).
    • Something that doesn't normally go with that object (candle + cumulonimbus clouds, grass + rusting skyscraper, stop sign + fishing trip, or so forth).
    • A concept (foreign relations, intelligence, peace, and so on).
    • An emotion not normally associated with these things.
    • GO!
  • Finish a common sentences in the most unexpected way. Some examples:
    • The day after Cody won the lottery...
    • After hitting the snooze button for the third time...
  • Use all of these in a scene:
    • Look out the nearest window. What first grabs your attention?
    • Who is the least-likely person to enter the room you're in right now - someone you would love to see or meet?
    • Open the nearest book at hand, flip to a random page, close your eyes, and put your finger on the page. Leave your finger there. What's the word or phrase?
    • What's your greatest fear or anxiety?
    • What's your favorite food?
  • Feature all the words you get from this Random Words Exercise (generates eight random words) in a scene.
  • Same deal for this one: Grab Bag Writing Prompts (generates a various number of random words).
  • 435 Writing Prompts (pick from hundreds of words, phrases, and ideas - or randomly by using dice or other random-number generators - to come up with unusual pairings).
  • Random Story Generator (fun way to come up with a completely random story idea).
  • Or more! The goal is to combine unlikely things to come up with fresh perspectives.

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updated 6/28/2019