Yesterday I did a fun thinking exercise that netted me a couple of story ideas. It’s been a while since I let my muse-brain out to play; there was no pressure, just plain old fun.
Here’s what I did:
I spent a couple of minutes scribbling down words as they came to me, mostly nouns, mostly names of items that were lying around the room, like a toy giraffe the kids had left on the floor and the Cinderella book I’d been reading to them earlier.
After I had my list, I asked my muse, “How are two or more of these things connected?” My muse started giving me images (it likes pictures). The giraffe was suddenly transported to a Brothers Grimm forest, stepping through snow, frost on its eyelashes. Sleeping Beauty appeared in a cave. Cottages were festooned with dozens of flickering lights in clay pots.
Once I’d written a sentence or two down about the images, I started asking questions like, “How did the giraffe get into the Germanic forest? How did Sleeping Beauty get into the cave? Why did the villagers light all those candles?” One thing led to another, and I got a pretty cool idea for a story.
Strangely enough, it does not involve giraffes.
It was a fun exercise. If you try it some time, let me know how it works for you.