Games Writers Play #16: Dictionary Diving

Scott William Carter   May 4, 2010  

gwpYour trusty dictionary isn’t just a great resource for spelling and word definitions.  It can be a tool for helping you generate new story ideas.  I call this technique “Dictionary Diving.”

Here’s how it works:  Get a good, thick dictionary, one of the better ones, and then close your eyes, flip through the pages, stop randomly, and choose the closest noun to your finger.  Write it down.  Do it a second time.  Now take those two words and turn it into the first sentence of a new story.  Make it provocative, the kind of sentence that raises questions and makes the reader want to know more.  Then write one page to see where the story takes you.

Now, if the story doesn’t speak for you, fine, toss it aside.  It was just a page.  You can always do it a second time.  Here’s my two words.

  • Ghetto
  • Scavenger

And just for fun, here’s my first sentence:

The ash cloud moved into the ghetto over night, and all the scavengers hid in the abandoned cars with the windows rolled up so their eyes wouldn’t sting.

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