Translation: Leïla Teteau-Surel
This article propose to apply to larp writing some methods used in other fields. Numerous methods has indeed been developed to improve creativity. Advertisement companies as well as politicians use them.
This blog aim at looking for initiatives to promote them and at changing conventions, that’s why it seems interesting to me to talk about how you can overcome conventions when you’re trying to find original solutions. Creativity is not about the quality of a scenario, it’s about the originality of the ideas.
In the medical field, great discoveries come from chance, accidents or errors. Concerning brain and human thought, the mechanisms generating new ideas are mistakes, accidents and humor. Working inside existing structures will never produce new ones.
What is a structure?
Larp use known references to enable players to identify the theme of the game. Everybody has then a quite precise idea of how to play her character. Players’ choices are limited by a specific structure. Thinking outside of the box is unnecessary. This is how human brain works and what makes life possible.
But choosing a precise theme for a scenario locks also the writer in one or several structures. If we go further than the game’s theme our brain has anyway tendencies to copy known ideas since we’re all fed with numerous references. Picasso said : « good artists copy, great artists steal. » And I believe we can still write a lot of good qualities scenarios without inventing anything.
The classics of literature and myths alone are providing an almost never-ending source of inspiration. Though when larp begin to copy larp itself and when one’s discovers that someone wrote the same character that the one she was planning to write on her next game we can ask ourselves if the community of players doesn’t share, maybe, a bit too many references.
Humor as exemple
Humor use regularly a brutal change of structure. Here is an example, from Edward de Bono’s book The use of lateral thinking : « A controller enter a compartment. A young man begins to look for his ticket and panics : he rummages through his jacket’s and pant’s pockets and through his coat and his case, he searchs everywhere. After a while the controller feels sorry for him and takes the ticket from the lips of the young man (where it was since the beginning). When the controller leaves, a passenger asks the young man if he doesn’t feel a bit ridiculous. ‘’ Not at all, the young man answers, I was chewing the ticket’s date’’»
Humor shows well the shift between structures and its consequences. With a different structure we have access to a different level of meaning. Something might then appear as obvious. The evidence was there but hidden at first sight. Here is the mistake : thinking than because something is logical, a better use of logic would have lead us there since the beginning. It’s not always the case. That’s why trying to overcome some logics can be a good thing when writing an original scenario.
The idea giving impulse
Some people let their mind wander with an easiness than others don’t have or perceive structures with difficulties. It’s also possible that they are misinformed about these structures. Ideas they suggest during brainstorming can be perceived as bad because they seem too chaotics. But every idea is good for the taking ! This person and its ideas ‘ll be useful. An idea can be used for its value as movement, not only for its value per se.
In a meeting for writing a Star Wars scenario, someone comes late and propose to add a character inspired by a Disney movie. At first sight it’s not fitting the theme. But this idea has the potential to take distance with Star wars’ archetypes without betraying the genre. Most of the Disneys are adaptations of classical stories. Let’s take peter Pan and the lost boys. Lost children living alone in a community on a faraway planet. The idea is seducing.
With an idea that seems poor you can jump to another one thanks to the movement created by the idea.
Either you want it or not your brain create a structure the second you begin to think about a problem. This structure is made from several criteria, a sort of enumeration of everything you want to do . It’s very difficult to go thoroughly through this list when looking for a plot idea. Try to remove one basis from it and see what happens. Express an idea that could be, at least partly, in contradiction with the dispositions.
Let’s imagine a scenario for a western and ideas that break voluntarily the codes of the genre :
– Native americans have a lot of knowledge and did study.
– Cowboys are cowards and afraid of everything.
– It’s snowing.
If we dig into them, we can extract from these ideas some interesting and less provocative propositions :
– A teacher tries to give lessons to the native americans.
– A mythomaniac, fearful and coward pistolero.
– The western takes place in the north during the middle of winter : an atmosphere really different for your larp.
A last method : fun and easy to use. Take a word randomly and associate it with your thoughts. Let’s take an example : in my scenario, I’d like orcs tribes and human cities living together. But I cant’ find an original solution to justify this situation. I encourage you to take a dictionary as I’m going to do (as I didn’t find one, I took the first book around me) and pick a word. The result is « Majesty». First I thought I’d change my word to have something easier but an idea crossed my mind almost immediately. The human cities live with the orcs tribes because the King ordered it. This is not only a good enough reason but it allows me to keep some mystery around. Why did the King order that orcs tribes should be let in peace ? You can open your dictionary and propose a solution as a comment.
At first sight it seems illogical that the first word you pick could help you in a lot of situations but don’t underestimate the capacity of our brain to extract concepts from any word. The word «elephant » become the concept of « big » and it’s then easier to apply it to any problematic.
With these three methods we’re looking for improving our creativity. The impulse give a dynamic to your ideas. Provocation enables to go further than the clichés. And when drawing lots you allow yourself to open to other influences than those who created the problem. There’s plenty of other methods to boost your creativity without falling into nonsense. As writing a larp scenario is often a collective adventure it seems to me it’s the good place to experiment these methods.