|Good Idea/Bad Idea by Fredo Alvarez (Flickr)|
But what if you reverse the flow? Turns out the entertainment industry uses this approach to stimulate creativity. As described by Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) in the Wall Street Journal:
I spent some time working in the television industry, and I learned a technique that writers use. It's called "the bad version." When you feel that a plot solution exists, but you can't yet imagine it, you describe instead a bad version that has no purpose other than stimulating the other writers to imagine a better version.He then proceeds to demonstrate how his own bad ideas (on his chosen subject of taxing the rich) really do help make you think of better ideas. I think it's a great technique and I'm going to try it the first chance I get. I'll report back if that turns out to be a bad idea.
For example, if your character is stuck on an island, the bad version of his escape might involve monkeys crafting a helicopter out of palm fronds and coconuts. That story idea is obviously bad, but it might stimulate you to think in terms of other engineering solutions, or other monkey-related solutions. The first step in thinking of an idea that will work is to stop fixating on ideas that won't. The bad version of an idea moves your mind to a new vantage point.