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Silver-Midnight
02-20-2012, 11:58 AM
Does anyone else use generators for their works? They can be any type of generator, and you don't have to follow what you generate completely either. Just do you use a generator to spring board some of your ideas?

blacbird
02-20-2012, 12:39 PM
When the power goes out.

caw

BenPanced
02-20-2012, 12:55 PM
Nope. Character names, locations, and plot pretty much come to me organically without the aid of a generator.

firedrake
02-20-2012, 12:58 PM
What Ben said.

I just sit down and write.

brainstorm77
02-20-2012, 01:24 PM
I have so many ideas for stories that I'll never live long enough to write them all. No.

Becky Black
02-20-2012, 03:26 PM
I sometimes use a name generator to help create a grab-bag of names to use for characters who kind of pop up unplanned while writing. I don't want to break off in the middle of a writing session to start wracking my brains for a good name for this guy who just showed up. (Since my brain will immediately go blank of course.)

Now and again they'll throw up a name that I love enough to give to a major character, but mostly they're just for minor types who need some kind of moniker.

seun
02-20-2012, 03:34 PM
I write my plots and characters.

Manuel Royal
02-20-2012, 03:52 PM
Just the squishy organic generator in my head.




Jackie Treehorn: Interactive erotic software. The wave of the future, Dude. 100 percent electronic!

Dude: Yeah, well, I still jerk off manually.

Treehorn: Of course you do.

Thump
02-20-2012, 04:34 PM
Mostly for names but sometimes when I'm blocked I generate a few plot ideas or twists. After reading enough of them and picturing it, my brain is usually ready to go back to what I was doing. It's more of a brain refreshing thing for me though I did write a couple of stories based on plot generators for the lulz.

James D. Macdonald
02-20-2012, 06:44 PM
What's a generator?

ChaosTitan
02-20-2012, 07:07 PM
Nope. I just use the wetware between my ears.

muravyets
02-20-2012, 07:37 PM
I use generators to get prompts for writing challenges, because I take the challenges, too, and it would be cheating to work off a prompt that I thought of.

I also use name generators to come up with lists of names for minor or referenced characters (i.e. the serial killer's past victims if they'll be mentioned specifically by the main characters). I tend to get OCD about details like names, so using a generator helps me reserve that energy for where it matters and not fritter away my writing time on the hapless bus driver who appears in one scene and is referenced by name in two.

Finally, for my fantasy project, I use a generator for just about all the character names, fantasy-talk place names, and outlandish titles of bizarre realms and magic spells. I do this for shits and giggles.

Jamesaritchie
02-20-2012, 10:10 PM
No. I hate prompts of any sort. I have my own ideas, and they have personal meaning, personal experience, that makes a story better.

I'm also afraid that if I relied on prompts of any sort, my mind would get lazy, and my own ideas would stop coming.

Edited to add I will use a prompt when I'm paid to do so, and have.

muravyets
02-20-2012, 10:16 PM
Well, my writing challenges run to stories of 50 words maximum and are not for publication except on blogs in the context of a writers' game, so meh. I don't feel like my creativity is really being compromised by letting a program generate the parameters of the game.

I'll say, creatively, I'm maybe a little odd. I'm a collagist, so I'm used to picking up random bits to build new things out of, and the ideas that emerge are definitely my own, but told in the context of found references -- that's in my artwork. In my writing, I tend to be conscious of the references and connections my own mind is playing with as I draft a scene. There is always an element of artifice in what I put down, though people who've read it don't seem to notice during the reading. That's why I don't really have a problem including little in-jokes in my stories. In my fantasy project, the joke is the names and titles of things, which are chosen from a generator and then tweaked for consistency of form and for the fantasy-culture I've created. In my horror WIP, the joke is references to real people who have asked to play a role, like my friend who lends a tweaked version of his name to the first victim of Act 2.

Since I don't mind playing with jokes and toys like that, I guess I don't see generators as idea killers. I can definitely see how they could be, but the way I use them is so similar to how I use things like old hardware and documents in my artwork, it's not really a problem for me.

Drachen Jager
02-20-2012, 10:42 PM
If I'm looking for a name to go with a character of a specific ethnic background I'll often go to baby-name sites or historic name registries. I just scan the lists until I see something I like. About half my character names come that way, half come from my own head.

I never use plot generators or anything similar. I start each novel with a world setting, a start point and an idea of how it might end. Then I just work it forwards, x happens, which causes y to happen, forcing character z to react and so on. Between creating lively characters and rich, conflicted settings I'm never at a loss for plot ideas.

kuwisdelu
02-20-2012, 10:53 PM
Whenever I need to do a permutation test.

quicklime
02-21-2012, 01:01 AM
Never, never, never....

I have ideas come to me, and those that keep rattling around for a few weeks are good to go, but despite my general sense that writing is just work, and there is no muse or special awesomeness that separates writing from digging a ditch, I still tend to be leery of the notion I can write a story effectively when someone else pulled the idea for it out their rectum....now if you mean to generate character traits, absolutely not--I have some idea what my characters will do, so I back-track to flesh them out, instead of rollign a die to see if they will get brown hair or love puppies...

Silver-Midnight
02-21-2012, 01:30 AM
I mean I use them, but only because sometimes my mind just really runs out of ideas. It hasn't been happening lately thankfully. I've been getting my own ideas. However, a generator did help I suppose in some cases. Mostly because it just made me think I guess. However, I guess that's just me.

quicklime
02-21-2012, 01:54 AM
everyone has their own thing.

if i'm stuck i turn off my car radio for a few days.

Silver-Midnight
02-21-2012, 03:12 AM
I know. I mean I don't use every single thing I generate and I don't follow it to down to the letter most of the time. However, using that and music(and a few other things) kind of helps my mind to work. I mean I know that using them can become a crutch, and I'll stop coming up with my own ideas or plots. But sometimes I really just can not think of anything at all. So, they help me think. What I probably should do though is maybe try making the plot even more my own and less and less of what I generated. That way I can still use them without becoming dependent on them to write.

elindsen
02-21-2012, 03:28 AM
What's a generator?
That's what I was thinking...

AVS
02-21-2012, 03:29 AM
"Generator PAIN blue light flash nurgh nurgh Will you be my friend?"

Those were the monster's first few terrible words. Igor laughed. I looked down from the tower; the peasants jeered and waved their maglites.

A generated name/place/title can seem like an artificial life form. Somehow they don't ring true. Though I suspect I haven't found the good generators yet.

HoneyBadger
02-21-2012, 03:46 AM
What's a generator?

Plot generator. (http://www.archetypewriting.com/muse/generators/plot.htm)

Character generator. (http://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php?Genname=quickchar)

And, of course, there are generators for names, settings, special abilities- the list is almost, but not quite, endless.



I think using a generator as a prompt is fine, but the idea of writing a novel with anything other than a name generator gives me the heebie-jeebies. It just seems... inorganic and counterfeit.

Susan Littlefield
02-21-2012, 03:54 AM
When the power goes out.

:ROFL:


What's a generator?

Exactly what I was going to ask, since my first thought was the same as Blacbird's response.

In answer to the original question: I don't use prompts or generators of any kind. I just sit down and start writing and figure it will come together...or it won't. I think it's important to keep our mind's active and to come up with our own characters, plots, story lines, etc.

TheRob1
02-21-2012, 03:56 AM
Sometimes I keep name lists and such.

I haven't needed anything like them for sci-fi, but for my fantasy it's a little more difficult. I've started aligning the various kingdoms in my fantasy world w/ ancient civilizations in the real world for the purpose of names.

As far as plot generators, I've never tried one.

veinglory
02-21-2012, 04:11 AM
No. Thinking stuff up is the fun part so I do it myself.

jaksen
02-21-2012, 04:15 AM
When the power goes out.

caw

hehe

And to answer the serious ques. in this post: No, I do not. My brain is me generator.

Filigree
02-21-2012, 04:39 AM
Same here. My brain is my generator. My fodder is the worldbuilding I've been playing with since 1987. I have too many story ideas as it is.

Silver-Midnight
02-21-2012, 07:32 AM
I mean with me honestly. I just kind of keep them just when I'm going through Writer's Block. Plus some of the time I feel like writing, but I don't know what to write. I mean most of the generators that I use are for character names more so than anything after looking back. Simply because I had--and still do have--trouble deciding character names.

muravyets
02-21-2012, 08:30 AM
Plot generator. (http://www.archetypewriting.com/muse/generators/plot.htm)

Character generator. (http://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php?Genname=quickchar)

And, of course, there are generators for names, settings, special abilities- the list is almost, but not quite, endless.



I think using a generator as a prompt is fine, but the idea of writing a novel with anything other than a name generator gives me the heebie-jeebies. It just seems... inorganic and counterfeit.
For a novel or any other finished work, no. For exercises, games, that sort of thing, I find them useful and amusing. But they're not going to give you the foundation of a fully realized story. At most, they might be used to produce something experimental, and ultimately shallow and pretentious.

Like I said, I use them for minor character names, as a joke, or for micro-fiction prompts. Even then I don't use plot or character generators. Only names and random words or phrases. In my micro-fiction challenge the theme and five required words were spat out of a generator, for example. I've looked at plot generators and find them pointless.

Silver-Midnight
02-21-2012, 11:12 AM
I don't know. Maybe I'm just that inexperienced of a writer that I have difficulty coming up with ideas sometimes still. I don't know. Note, I'm not trying to really discredit myself or anything similar to that, but I do think that haven't reached a certain skill level yet that a number of other people have reached. I'm not saying that's good or bad either; just stating what I think is true.

pdblake
02-21-2012, 12:59 PM
No, having the idea is half the joy of writing.

Alexandra Little
02-21-2012, 03:44 PM
I use name generators on occasion.

bearilou
02-21-2012, 04:38 PM
*cough*

Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots (http://www.amazon.com/Plotto-Master-Book-All-Plots/dp/1935639188/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329827700&sr=8-1) by William Wallace Cook is my new favorite thing to goof off with. It looks complicated at first but I sat down one day to master it.

I did.

I even roughed out a short story idea with it just to see what it produced. The jury is still out on if it will be a good short story but taking what I came up with using the 'method' already I've deviated from it. Still...it was a neat process and a good way to launch into a story.

Phaeal
02-21-2012, 07:07 PM
I like John Galt's static energy generator, myself. Two drops of oil, and it's been powering my word processor for the past five years!

My name generators are phone books, the atlas, and biographical dictionaries. I find names I like, mix up firsts and lasts, alter names to fit the conventions of fantastic societies, whatever's needed.

My main plot generator is NPR (National Public Radio) -- it's playing all day and half the night at work and home, and ideas pop at me out of the incessant murmur of all things considered. When an idea pops, it goes into my personal generator, the bunny hutch Word document, where it can mingle and breed with other ideas until it's big enough to burst through the chicken wire and onto the page.

bearilou
02-21-2012, 07:24 PM
until it's big enough to burst through the chicken wire and onto the page.

I'm traumatized by this imagery now because all I can see is fur and blood and a sad looking pair of limp bunny ears flopped onto the keyboard....

Mark W.
02-21-2012, 07:31 PM
I think generators can be useful to spark your own ideas. One generally shouldn't use the plots they generate. Most of the time, they are just nonsense. However, sometimes they can spark your imagination and get the ball rolling on something new.

Phaeal
02-21-2012, 10:30 PM
I'm traumatized by this imagery now because all I can see is fur and blood and a sad looking pair of limp bunny ears flopped onto the keyboard....

Nope. When it's big enough, the idea employs its razor-keen incisors to slash the wire, then thuds, growling, onto the desk. There it demands infinite carrots and a thousand words a day, or else.

Rhoda Nightingale
02-21-2012, 10:45 PM
Never have a problem coming up with story ideas. Ever. If someone points me at a prompt, all I can do is think of all the Plot Bunnies waiting to eat me alive if I ignore them in favor of some other story, and then I back away. Slowly.

For names, I either make stuff up or go to BehindTheName.com--and that mostly if I need something foreign or really really old.

Silver-Midnight
02-22-2012, 08:53 AM
I think generators can be useful to spark your own ideas. One generally shouldn't use the plots they generate. Most of the time, they are just nonsense. However, sometimes they can spark your imagination and get the ball rolling on something new.

That's mostly why I use them. Just to get the ball rolling. Even prompts are the same way, but I run out of prompts quicker than I run out of generations from the generator.


For names, I either make stuff up or go to BehindTheName.com--and that mostly if I need something foreign or really really old.

I would use BehindtheName.com or a site like that but it's so hard for me to decide on a name, foreign or not. It's just so difficult for me sometimes. When I did use sites like that a lot of my characters ended up with "A" names because I usually didn't want to go further into the site to look at the names under the rest of the alphabet. I mean, for me, I like the generator better because I feel like it gives me a better variety of name besides the first few letters of the alphabet. However, that's just my opinion, and that's what works for me.

bearilou
02-22-2012, 04:09 PM
When I did use sites like that a lot of my characters ended up with "A" names because I usually didn't want to go further into the site to look at the names under the rest of the alphabet. I mean, for me, I like the generator better because I feel like it gives me a better variety of name besides the first few letters of the alphabet. However, that's just my opinion, and that's what works for me.

I tend to do that as well so I will just click on random letters in the alphabet (or skip to a random page number) to see what comes up.

Dr.Gonzo
02-22-2012, 04:32 PM
I once played spin the bottle and had to tongue a troll. I make my own decisions now.

areteus
02-22-2012, 05:03 PM
Tonguing trolls can be fun, if you do it right.

Jamesaritchie
02-22-2012, 08:26 PM
I don't know how character name generators work, but I really don't want to use one for this. I use character names that match where the character is from, that people really used in that area during the year he or she was born, etc.

Even for fantasy, I don't want names made up randomly, but ones that are consistent with the others, and that match the setting and tone.

It would take a pretty fancy name generator to get this right.

Cranky
02-22-2012, 08:41 PM
I use all kinds of prompts when I'm stuck for one reason or another. I don't see generators being any different. *shrug*

That said, I don't follow anything to the letter. Not because I am afraid of it sapping any creativity, but because it just doesn't happen. These things tend to take on a life of their own once I start writing.

RemusShepherd
02-22-2012, 09:34 PM
When I was writing short stories, I used to play around with the Callihoo generators on sff.net. (http://www.sff.net/people/Julia.West/CALLIHOO/webwriter.htm) They're fun, and occasionally I'd get a good idea from them.

Now that I'm focusing on novels I've stopped using generators. I generally don't start a novel until I already have characters, setting, and plot already in place.

Silver-Midnight
02-22-2012, 10:29 PM
Most of my stories are set in a modern setting; I mean I know that doesn't necessarily excuse the popularity(or unpopularity) of a name, but I feel like it gives me more freedom to choose names I guess.

Jamesaritchie
02-22-2012, 10:46 PM
Most of my stories are set in a modern setting; I mean I know that doesn't necessarily excuse the popularity(or unpopularity) of a name, but I feel like it gives me more freedom to choose names I guess.

I don't think it's about freedom, but about using a name that strikes the reader as real for that character, in that time and place. When a name doesn't come across this way, I think it needs an explanation.

An unusual name for a given time and place says something about the parents, more than the character who bears the name, and you really have to ask why the parents would choose such a name.

The right kind of celebrity couple might name a kid Petal Blossom Rainbow, but a Southern Baptist family probably won't.

Too many uncommon names in a novel also makes for tough reading. I want to read the story, not spend time wondering why every character in the novel has an unusual name.

Rhoda Nightingale
02-23-2012, 02:32 AM
I would use BehindtheName.com or a site like that but it's so hard for me to decide on a name, foreign or not. It's just so difficult for me sometimes. When I did use sites like that a lot of my characters ended up with "A" names because I usually didn't want to go further into the site to look at the names under the rest of the alphabet. I mean, for me, I like the generator better because I feel like it gives me a better variety of name besides the first few letters of the alphabet. However, that's just my opinion, and that's what works for me.
Ah--see, when I go there, I almost always have a first letter in mind already, or a . . . color. I'm a synesthete, so words and letters all have color to me. So when I wind up on a site like that, I'm already thinking, "Okay, I need an orange name, something in Gaelic. Whaddya got for me?" And I narrow it down from there.

Silver-Midnight
02-23-2012, 09:59 AM
Ah--see, when I go there, I almost always have a first letter in mind already, or a . . . color. I'm a synesthete, so words and letters all have color to me. So when I wind up on a site like that, I'm already thinking, "Okay, I need an orange name, something in Gaelic. Whaddya got for me?" And I narrow it down from there.

Yeah, I have....nothing, except for the thought that I need name for a character.


And someone mentioned earlier about prompts. I do think that they are helpful too, at least for me, especially when I'm going through Writer's Block. However, I "ran out" of prompts that I wanted to try. That could've had a lot to do with that I only searched for "fiction writing prompts" instead of maybe Flash Fiction prompts, Short Story Prompts (or even Short Fiction, even though that includes, flash fiction, short stories, novelettes, and novellas), etc. So, that could be something to try I suppose. I know that there is a Flash Fiction forum on here, and they tend to provide their monthly prompts (I think) in some threads from what I can see.

Silver-Midnight
04-18-2012, 01:06 AM
I just recently found this Writing Challenge Generator:

Link: http://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php?Genname=writechallenge

I just kind of wanted a second opinion on it. Do you think this is a reliable generator, or should I only stick to writing prompts?

Thanks

SomethingOrOther
04-18-2012, 01:11 AM
Ah--see, when I go there, I almost always have a first letter in mind already, or a . . . color. I'm a synesthete, so words and letters all have color to me. So when I wind up on a site like that, I'm already thinking, "Okay, I need an orange name, something in Gaelic. Whaddya got for me?" And I narrow it down from there.

Do you find it jarring when words and letters have colors that don't match the ones your mind gives them?

Sorry. :D

Mr Flibble
04-18-2012, 02:40 AM
I just recently found this Writing Challenge Generator:

Link: http://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php?Genname=writechallenge

I just kind of wanted a second opinion on it. Do you think this is a reliable generator, or should I only stick to writing prompts?

Thanks

As prompts..perhaps they could be useful

But I find my own weird mind is better :D

If you use them as a spring board, fine. If you use them as template (an I've seen people who do) not so fine.

Just make sure that spring board flings you far from the source (you make it yours)

Hiroko
04-18-2012, 02:56 AM
I tried using a generator for a blog idea once, but it did nothing for me.
Sometimes, if I stare hard enough at blank paper, I can come up with an idea or topic; most of the time, however, I just think about my work and ideas come on their own.

Icedevimon
04-18-2012, 03:05 AM
I love the stuff on Seventh Sanctum, if just for the entertainment value!

Though my favorite on there is the name generator. I'll generate maybe fifty or so names at a time and look through them to see if I like the feel of any. I'm not overly familiar with names outside of where I live, so it's a really useful tool for me.

On rarer occasions I'll use the character generators. Mostly for a medieval setting, just to give me a jump on some new idea I haven't previously tried.

Silver-Midnight
04-18-2012, 03:27 AM
As prompts..perhaps they could be useful

But I find my own weird mind is better :D

If you use them as a spring board, fine. If you use them as template (an I've seen people who do) not so fine.

Just make sure that spring board flings you far from the source (you make it yours)

What do you mean by template? I understand spring board, but what's the difference.

I don't know; maybe I'm becoming a bit too dependent on generators and prompts anyway. Not that there is anything wrong with using them, but I don't want to get the point that I need them to write something.

muravyets
04-18-2012, 05:12 AM
I ransacked Seventh Sanctum and a couple of other generators for things like names, epithets, nicknames, and professional or aristocratic titles for a fantasy world. I was able to find output that matched the style I wanted, and I just pulled tons of likely options wholesale and saved them into a file. Now, whenever I need a new name or reference for something, I go into that file and either find something that fits or alter something to fit whatever I need.

I chose what to save for my future use based on how I reacted to whatever popped up on the screen. For instance, on the tavern name generator, if a generated name had a good flow, sounded plausible in the setting I had in mind, and prompted a vision in my head of what the place would be like, I saved the name. So far, I've only used a few of the hundreds of things I pulled, and only a few of those have been used as-is.

I did that because I have issues with such details. I believe they are very important for carrying through the style and mood of a story, but I also think it's a waste of time to obsess over them. If I make up something myself, I will obsess over it and have a real hard time finalizing it. It's a mental thing I have. Having the generator suggest stuff helps me decide.

Mr Flibble
04-18-2012, 12:38 PM
What do you mean by template? I understand spring board, but what's the difference.



Okay the difference I mean here is this. (This entire post IMO, and no, not a bash at outlining, which is also your own mind brewing the possibilities)

For instance I just generated this at that link:

This is a buddy story. The story is about a dungeon delver. It takes place in a city-state on a volcanic world of forbidden magic. The story begins with a journey, climaxes with the taking of a test, and ends with a natural disaster.


If you use it as a template, that's the story you'll tell. It won't change, and (unless you're very good) will possibly come across as cardboard. However, if you springboard off the idea - Ooh volcanic world! What if he doesn't delve dungeons, but ... and then he....and he averts the natural disaster at the end! What if he's actually the bad guy, and the 'buddy' doesn't realise it's not a buddy story after all when the MC flings him into the volcano! You add your own twists and whatnot, then you make it yours.

The template...well let's just say I've read a few that were either obviously 'My D&D campaign, exactly, never mind if those characters would do that or the world doesn't work that way, dammit, he rolled a crit!' or where the author admitted they'd used something like this and stuck to it religiously. And it showed.

While you can take any plot line and write it well, for me, it only really comes alive when it becomes yours. Because it's your input, your writing and ideas that make it what it is. The magic ingredient if you will (again, this includes people who outline, because they are brainstorming using their own ideas to twist the prompt).

Generators make a great prompt. But the story should be yours.

ETA: Re names, they're quite handy too, but again even better if you twist the result to make it fit what you want.

Discord
04-18-2012, 06:24 PM
I'm kind of picky about names and such. I like them to have some sort of symbolic meaning or intertextual allusion. I have to stop myself every now and then and go, "Come on, Lucy, stop being so damn literal-minded. It's okay sometimes just to call a character "John".

skylark
04-18-2012, 07:46 PM
For me, those little 5-6 statement generators generally produce a story that's about 1500 words long. I do use them for a change, when I feel like I'm getting in a rut and writing the same thing all the time, because they force me into thinking about a plotline that's different.

Silver-Midnight
04-18-2012, 08:04 PM
If you use it as a template, that's the story you'll tell. It won't change, and (unless you're very good) will possibly come across as cardboard.

The template...well let's just say I've read a few that were either obviously 'My D&D campaign, exactly, never mind if those characters would do that or the world doesn't work that way, dammit, he rolled a crit!' or where the author admitted they'd used something like this and stuck to it religiously. And it showed.

While you can take any plot line and write it well, for me, it only really comes alive when it becomes yours. Because it's your input, your writing and ideas that make it what it is. The magic ingredient if you will (again, this includes people who outline, because they are brainstorming using their own ideas to twist the prompt).

Generators make a great prompt. But the story should be yours.

ETA: Re names, they're quite handy too, but again even better if you twist the result to make it fit what you want.

Ok, I think I understand it a bit better now. Thanks.

benbradley
04-18-2012, 08:16 PM
How did I miss this thread? I must have been doing something else in February.

Here's some generators, they could be useful for prose/story writing, even though they're made for songwriting.
http://muse.fawm.org/plotspline
Okay, the struxxure tool might not be useful.

Silver-Midnight
04-19-2012, 11:40 AM
Thanks for that. I'll check it out a bit more; maybe it will inspire something sooner or later.

eggs
04-19-2012, 12:39 PM
Man, I feel so old and un-hip. I had no idea that things like generators even existed!