We've had a couple of threads recently where people have expressed difficulties about making planets original and unique, or, at least, different from each other.
I would like this thread to be a thread of people giving their advice about techniques they use to boost creativity. In other words, this should not be a 'I use Bryce and it is better than xxx for planets' thread.
I should begin by saying that I am an unshamed user of Edward de Bono's techniques outlined in 'Lateral Thinking' and Tony Buzan's technique of Mind Mapping.
Edit: To clarify, we're looking for any and all techniques that lead to the widest variety of original, striking and unique ideas. They can be your techniques, or techniques you've learned from someone else, or even techniques you've just read about which sound like they're worth giving a try. Probably best if we keep the items short with a single example to help make it all make sense.
#1 Random Word
This is an old technique where you take a pin, open a dictionary (or any book) at random and stick it in a word. This word then becomes your seed word. For example, just taking a word from this website, 'Quickly'. I can then start churning ideas based on a planet for which 'quickly' is the key word. A planet where all the crops grow quickly, where people mature quickly and grow old quickly, where speed fascinates. Or, a random word from something else on my screen 'Standing'. I imagine a world where everything possible is done standing up. Where did this world's custom originate from? Is it a religious thing? Or a memory of some terrible event?
Variation: random object. Pick up a random object, or walk into a toy shop and find something. Use it in the same way.
This is another de Bono technique where you split up ideas. Important - this is not about dividing up your planets, but about dividing up the ideas. Take the idea of inhabited planets. How can I divide the idea of inhabited planets? Perhaps into planets where they have holovision and planets where they don't. Split it again. Planets which refuse to pay the line rental on holovision, planets which refuse to allow the holovision satellite to orbit for security reasons, planets which have a rival system, planets which object to technology altogether, and planets which holovision has blacklisted for previous infringements. Dividing up the blacklisted planets, planets which just didn't pay their bills, planets which previously shot down the holovision satellites, planets which tried to nationalise holovision facilities, and planets which wanted to tolerate holovision and a rival company.
important: this is a technique for making just one planet, not for arranging the universe. As with all lateral thinking, the process is to get you to a single, original idea, not to analytically create a system of ideas.
This is a technique most often used in groups, but you can use it on your own. First, define the parameters, which can be anything you want. Say, for example, you want a technological planet which is unlike all the other planets and yet in alliance with some of them. You then try to write down fifty different creative ideas for this planet. Eg: planet that built its biotechnology revolution on milk. Planet with no minerals except copper and silicon - all its technology uses just these two minerals, plus whatever they can get by trading them. Planet with a single technological secret that they won't share. Planet that is a centre of technological espionage, knocking off everyone else's design. Planet founded when technological designers fled from anti-technology persecution in a nearby system. Planet where designing a new gadget is a requisite rite of passage into adulthood. Planet where government imposes a 'size' tax, meaning that everything is miniturised.
Again, the idea of brainstorming is that one idea leads to another, rather than that you come up with fifty ideas you actually use.
#4 What if?
Play the 'What if?' game. What if the moon was made of good cream cheese? What if a planet was inside a star (obviously it would have to be an enormously diffuse star - but what if?) What if there was a world on a comet? What if an artificial planet was formed? What if a planet was incredibly dense so that it had gravity like Earth but was only the size of France?
#5 Opposites and paradoxes
Make some sensible statement about something, and then imagine the opposite. Instead of 'how can I make my planet more realistic', ask 'how can I make my planet as unrealistic as possible?' Instead of 'planets float through space' try 'space floats through planets'. Then work out a practical way to do a planet based on that idea.
#6 Remove the middle
Come up with a planet and develop the idea. Then ditch the central idea and make one of the auxilliary ideas the central one. For example, you have a planet which is preparing for a war with a nearby planet. All of its industry, technology, politics and art are focussed on this. Now remove the central idea, and imagine a planet which is centred around art which celebrates everything except war. 'Make art not war' becomes one of the planet's key ideas.
Anyway, these are just six techniques I use.
Can we get the list up to 36 techniques? See what you all can do.
M A R T I N T U R N E R
(url="http://"http://www.ambrosiasw.com/cgi-bin/vftp/dl-redirect.pl?path=evo/plugins&file;=Frozen Heart - the No.hqx")Frozen Heart - the Novel(/url)
(This message has been edited by Martin Turner (edited 03-27-2004).)