My Bitz Box March 8, 2011Posted by mattfarmer in Uncategorized.
A Bitz Box. Who has one of those? I know modelers who have a bits box. The left over plastic bits from models which get stuck onto custom stuff when they want. Space Marine sprues which come with twenty weapon varieties they can use on other models at a later date. They fish through the box for something that feels just right for some custom miniatures they are painting. There is even an online site just for this kind of thing – http://www.bitzbox.co.uk/.
But I know of people who go through model shops and just buy boxes of models, just in case. There was a shop which had a $2 sale on those random Japanese Mecha kind of models. This modeler purchased about 40 boxes, each one different. Came in handy building dreadnoughts for his Warhammer 40k army he said. Plus, he sold some on eBay to fund his addiction.
I mention this because I feel the notepad I carry around with me everywhere, and what EVERY writer should carry with them, is our version of the Bitz Box.
The notepad I have, for me, is like the entry point into my Bitz Box. I have two files, currently “quick ideas” and “larger ideas”.
The quick ideas are thoughts I like which I think could be useful or great in some way, but don’t have much behind them. They are not stories in themselves, but could be good for something. For example – “I feel so pixellated today” I like this idea, something a character might say in a cyberpunk world, or a hacker or something. But, in itself, it is not an idea that has a story behind it. This little thought is in my Bitz Box.
The Larger Ideas file has ideas I think could be stretched into stories or novels. Indeed, my Grand Apartments novels sprung from this file many years ago. And I have used a few ideas from here to create extended works.
I don’t have a Bitz Box for characters, but I think this might be a good idea. Any character concepts I can collect together.
My Bitz Box also includes inspirational artwork. I can’t draw, which sucks. The number of times I have a character look in my head, and try to draw it and get not much more than a stick figure… grr! I know people who can draw, and I have asked a couple of them to draw characters for me. But I feel bad asking them to produce some work purely for my indulgence. That, and one guy is really good at producing manga-esque drawings, which didn’t suit the gritty sci-fi character I wanted.
So I fish through the internet for inspirational are. Deviant Art and Elfwood Studios are both great resources for me. That picture looks like who I want to be my protagonist! More recently I have grabbed images of skyboats and dirigibles, seeing how other people view them, run them and provide propulsion. Some have rockets, some propellers. Some air ships are floating sailboats with sails. Others are iron-clad monsters with air bags and smoke stacks. It helps me plan how I want my Sky-boats to look and feel.
So, when I am stuck for a writing idea, I know I can dip into a box of images and written ideas, pick two or three, and make something of it. An exercise I like to throw at my writing group is – “place person and object”. My last effort I had a picture of a slum-like street with a bright neon sign in a foreign language; I had an android sitting in a doorway looking dirty and run down; and I had a shiny black orb with some blue LED lights on the outside.
My story was about an android which needed to save her master from a terminal illness. A local crime lord had the cure, but she had to gamble for it. She had to put her heart on the line. She lost, her heart and her master, because the crime lord cheated, of course. The android, being a machine, could only think in logics, and not nuances of human emotion and deception.
It was a cool little story. I liked it, and it totally burst forth from my Bitz Box.