From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Odd Couple Story Technique

One of my favorite ways to generate ideas is by pairing two things you wouldn't typically expect to be paired. This can help get story ideas going when your starting off on a new project, help develop characters, or get the twist you're looking for when you're plot is stuck. Take a character you've already got and put them in a place they wouldn't usually be, or with someone they wouldn't usually be with.

Try odd character pairings: Take a farm girl and make her fall in love with a lost circus clown, or pair a gymnast and a calculus professor. Or shake up the setting: Put Zeus in the bayou or take an opera singer and put him in a third grade classroom. Or put that third grade teacher on tour with that opera singer, or give a cajun man the task of taking Zeus back to olympus--give them a task they don't feel right for.

You can mix things up for yourself too. If you're a mainstream writer, try horror or even steampunk. If you typically write YA, try a 72 year old widow as your main character. If you write fantasy, try historical fiction. To me, stretching yourself is always a good idea. You may find something new to love, as well as revitalize the stuff you do normally.

What other odd pairings can you think of?

Sarah Allen


  1. This is brilliant advice, my spouse, the education tipster, talks about this when we talk ideas on the porch.
    How about a blind pianist and a mute....

  2. This reminds me of a Paula Abdul's song: "We get together because opposites attract." Or that Richard Dryfus Movie with the music teacher and his the deaf-mute son, Mr. Holland's opus. Yeah, I can see how some good story telling can hatch from ideas like these.

    How about an ironman competitor and his 600-pound wife?

  3. Pickles and cake only because I recently watched Sn00ki on Jersey Shore.

  4. I love doing this! It allows to me to explore the humorous side of writing.

    Thanks for the post!

  5. My husband (Irish Catholic city boy) and myself (Bible-belt Protestant farm girl)--who would have put us together? Certainly not our parents! Fun ideas.

  6. How about a donkey and an ogre? Oh, wait. Already been done. Let me try again, a base jumper and Benjamin Franklin. Love your premise. Great fun.


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