Ideas vs. Solutions

There’s no such thing as a bad idea.

WRONG.

Actually, lots of ideas are bad.  Using that trampoline to jump over that electrified fence topped with razor wire, for example.

Actually, that might be a great idea if this side of the fence is full of rabid rottweilers or hungry zombies.

(But not both, because empirical evidence clearly shows that the rottweilers would take care of the zombies, and you could just watch the excitement while you bounced, carefree and giggly, on your maximum security prison yard trampoline (because where else would you have an electrified fence with razor wire on top), at least until you did that weird mistimed double bounce thing and tweaked your knee and fell off the trampoline where you’d be easy prey for the shambling rottweiler zombie dogs, but really you’d have no one to blame but yourself for getting into that situation in the first place.)

An idea without context is impossible to evaluate.

One of the Great Overlaps in Writing and Game Design is the fact that in each, you can’t know if something is a “good idea” or not unless you know what it is you’re trying to accomplish first.

Solutions on the other hand have purpose.  They exist to solve a problem.  They are in fact created with a goal in mind.  They can be measured and tested for effectiveness, efficiency, cost, value, risk, reward, and any other number of handy things.

Like game development, it’s entirely too easy to over-complicate a story.

I have a cool idea!  Now I just have to find a place to wedge it in this story I’m currently writing!  And if it doesn’t fit, I’ll add some other stuff to it until it does! And after a while I’ll have added so much stuff that my story will be incoherent and rambling much like this blargh!

In either case, one of the toughest parts of the job is throwing away good ideas that aren’t actual solutions.

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