Thinking out of the box is sometimes difficult when you have screeched to a halt and are bogged down to the point of paralysis with your words.
Try this quick, alternate activity to kick-start your writing and escape the blockades your mind has set up to whatever challenge your characters may be experiencing. It can also be used as a self editing tool for your first draft.
SCAMPER is an acronym for a writing technique used to unlock creativity and ways to see a problem or challenge differently.
S—Substitute. Who or what else could be in the scene? Could the same scene occur at a different time or place?
C—Combine. What combinations of characters or skills have you not used yet? What emotions or feelings have you not explored? What writing techniques have you not utilised yet?
A—Adapt. Is there anything from the previous scene—or from the scene you are writing, which could be altered or adapted? Is there a scene which has worked which you can copy parts of and use in this one?
M—Modify or Magnify. Are there words which you could alter to change the meaning of the scene? Is there movement, colours, tastes or smells which you could magnify to intensify a mood—or to reflect a characters inner feelings, or thoughts?
P—Put in or add to improve, Purify or Put to other uses. Are there elements ( the senses) which you have not put in, which could be added to improve the readers experience of the text? Can you purify a mood or feeling by intensifying of focusing on one particular sense? Can character be put to another use? Perhaps a secondary character can assist in moving a scene along?
E—Eliminate. Delete at least ten percent of the words within the text, beginning with words like ‘then’, words ending in ‘ly’, repeated words and then scrutinise the way you use ‘as’ in a sentence.
R—Reverse and Rearrange. Have a variety of techniques within your scene where you can change pace. Think about use clashing techniques for a specific effect or reversing the problem or challenge within the scene all together.
The SCAMPER technique will work on many levels, but may not serve to assist in every scene or challenge you may have in your writing. Include it as part of your writers toolbox. It’s a great way to brainstorm for different perspectives or when attempting to steer away from your normal phraseology or descriptions. The most important thing about SCAMPER, is that you begin to question your characters, their motivations and reasons for being part of a scene.