Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ideas: Rebuttal Theory and Adding to the Conversation

Technique Tuesday

I once heard that Shannon Hale's approach to retelling fairy tales is motivated by the question, "What's bugging me about this story?"

I started thinking seriously about this question after reading several books that bugged me enough that I wanted to make a rebuttal (it's hard to set aside old debating instincts). It's not that I had problems with the books themselves as much as some of the ideas in the stories.

Two interesting things happened as I thought about the ideas that bugged me in each story and they ways in which I might handle them differently:
  1. I was drawn into the "normal science" process of thinking through each idea (that I described last week) and uncovered a host of interesting ideas.
  2. The different lines of inquiry came together as a fascinating story molecule.
Shannon's question, "What's bugging me about this story?" is a powerful idea generator if you follow it with a second question: "How would I do it differently?"

There's another important consequence: as you work through the ideas until you can clearly express what bothers you about the story and how you would handle it differently, you find you have something to add to the conversation.


Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net