Friday, February 4, 2011

I'll Miss The Dictionary Game

I was looking at the books at Daily Cheap Reads -- a really great site for finding Kindle bargains. (They're going to feature Have Gun, Will Play tomorrow!) They always have something I didn't know about. For instance a day or so ago they featured Murder on The Links by Agatha Christie. It was her third book and unlike the first two, is not a public domain book. And it was only 99 cents. I picked that up, plus a few others. (There have been a lot of golden age mysteries coming back into print right now.)

But one of the other sets of featured books had a novelty book about how to survive a zombie attack. I don't think it's in the same series as the "Worst Case Scenarios" survival guides, but it reminded me of them. These are funny novelty books, but also kind of interesting because the author actually did do research. I like to thumb through them for quick random reading. (I usually keep one in my bathroom, actually.)

And I realized something I'm gonna miss when the world goes over completely to ebooks: Opening a book to a random page.

I suppose we'll learn to do something like it eventually. But it just won't be the same as closing your eyes, grabbing a book at random, and opening it. It's more conscious, more deliberate.

So before that capability is gone, I'm going to give you a great idea generation assignment. All you need is a dictionary (although you can do it with any book).

1. Decide what you want to generate ideas on. It could be a new story, a flash fiction, a romance for upcoming Valentine's Day, or just a scene you have to write that needs a little more something.

2. Get your dictionary (or other book).

3. Open the book to a random page and close your eyes and point to a spot on the page. Open your eyes and see what word you are pointing to. Write it down.

4. Repeat Step 3, and write this second word down.

Use this pair of random words as a source of ideas. If you are working with an existing idea, think about how these words interact with your idea. If you are coming up with a new idea, think about how they interact with each other.

Start writing down quick ideas. At least ten, but twenty or thirty will be better. (Odds are, your first ten will be obvious, your next ten will be stretching and weak because of it, your last ten will be new and interesting.)

Good night!

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