A picture’s worth a thousand words. And 1,000 words can mean several minutes out of your life – depending on how quickly you read.
In these days of soundbites, tweets, and Attention Deficit Disorder, it’s often necessary to get your point across, in considerably less. And still manage to paint an evocative picture. Especially when you’re writing fiction.
Here’s how I do it.

Spin The Wheel

1. Take a dictionary, and throw it across the room.

2. Pen and paper in hand, approach the dictionary, cautiously.

3. If it’s open, close your eyes and bring your finger down on the page. (If it fell shut, open it at random, then bring your finger down)

4. Open your eyes, and write down the first word you see.

5. Repeat the process, until you have at least 3 random words.

This being the 21st century, there’s software to do this virtually. Just Google “Random Idea Generators”, and you’ll get a fine list of sites and programs, for playing Dictionary Roulette.

The key is to get at least 3 random words, or phrases.

Think Outside The Box

These random selections will form the basis of your story. The trick is to bring them together, somehow. Chances are, they’re totally unrelated to each other, so you’re going to have to get creative.

If you’re a logical thinker, you’ll be needing to shake up your brain pan, a little. Or a lot.

Those of you who have come across my work on Twitter* will be familiar with the occasionally amusing, often bizarro alternative definitions I throw out there.

*And if you haven’t the link’s right there, in the side bar, for God’s sake.

These aren’t just a side-effect of the meds I’m taking. They’re a conscious effort on my part to think unconventionally. To look for words and phrases with several meanings. Or those that sound like something else.

It’s a way to set aside “common sense”, and start thinking laterally. And to link those random words, and tie them up in a tight little tale.

Go For It!

The roulette prompt: bowl conspiracy sweet

Thinks: “Conspiracy, hmm, some kind of criminal activity. What’s sweet? Hmm… sugar, I guess. Sugar bowl. But what about strikes and spares?”


Something Rotten in The Sugar Bowl

by Des Nnochiri

“Bowling alley.”

“Yeah.” Mickey bobbed his head up and down, like a dashboard ornament.

“Can’t lose.”

“Uh-huh.” Mickey nodded again. “See, on league night, The Sugar Bowl is packed. And when the Hyper-Mall Maulers are in – like tonight – they always bring the week’s money, with them. Cash and checks. We’ll walk with, like, three, four hundred grand. Easy.”

I checked the action on my shotgun. Slid the back-up piece into my waistband.

“Well,” I said. “Let’s do this, if we’re gonna.”

We went in. Ski-masks on. Weapons held high. And stopped dead, to a chorus of clicks.

We were staring down the barrels of maybe 200 service revolvers, assorted Magnums, and 9-millimeter automatics.

“Did you check the timetable, Mickey?” I asked.

“Yeah. Why?”

“Well, check it on the way out,” I said. “I think we got the wrong night.”


For more in this vein (shameless plug), check out my growing collection of crime and noir short stories at A Twist of Noir. (The link’s in the sidebar for this, too)

And that’s it. I hope you’ve been taking notes, ’cause there’ll be a pop quiz, later. As in:

Pop quiz: Performance assessment, for staff of The Coca-Cola Company.

And, did you get the title of this post? Lesson: Less? As, in “Less and–?” No? I give up.

Have a better one.