Friday, November 5, 2010

The A to Z of Brainstorming

Back when I first talked about this series I mentioned I was basing it on an "A to Z of Relic Hunters", and I think it's pretty obvious what I'm doing now that we're a few days into it.  I thought I'd take a quick break to talk about the why, as I ponder exactly what I'm going to say about F.

Back when I was working on the setting, I actually started writing the A to Z without a clear answer to that question.  I think I just thought it was a neat idea, a way to quickly get across some of the concepts of the setting.  Or maybe I had been looking at Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies.  I'm not sure.

The first part of it was easy - I filled in something like 3/4 of the letters without a problem.  A for Airship, P for Pistol, no problem.  But then they started to get hard.  H? Z? Q?  What the hell am I going to do with Q?

The thing is, constraints are useful.  (Another thing I learned from Bill, right after steal everything.  Maybe I should do a post called "Everything I needed to know about GMing, I learned from Shakespeare"?)  I remember the entire class complaining like crazy when forced to write a sonnet back in high school, but locking in to iambic pentameter and a given rhyme scheme forces you to consider your words instead of just vomiting them out onto the paper.

The A to Z isn't nearly as hard as writing a sonnet, but having to connect something to each letter might make you think about things in a different way as yo try to fit them into the pattern.  Without it, the setting might never have had the zeth (a minor bit of color), or Quintus the mad hermit (an interesting potential NPC encounter), or the Honest Brotherhood for the Reclamation and Preservation of Historical Relics (a major plot thread).

What are your favorite brainstorming tricks?

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