Writer’s Edge: Brainstorming Techniques – Fish Out of Water

The “Fish Out of Water” brainstorming technique has long been a staple in literature as well as in the movies. Taking someone out of their normal element and placing them in a completely foreign environment makes for obvious laughs, adventure and conflict. Watching characters stumble and fall but who ultimately are forced to adapt to their unfamiliar surroundings and circumstances is what audiences love to cheer for.

brainstorming techniques 2Here are some films that employ the “Fish out of Water” brainstorming technique. The movie Splash was literally a fish out of water. It’s about a mermaid who leaves the sea and eventually falls in love with Tom Hanks. She has to keep him from finding out what she really is until he accepts her and later rejects his life on land to join her back in the deep.

Trading Places has Eddie Murphy playing a ghetto hustler who inadvertently is forced to trade places with Dan Ackroyd, a wealthy commodities trader. Each has to adjust to a radically different world and lifestyle which clashes with the one they’ve been used to. They ultimately team up to turn the tables on those who put them in that situation in the first place.

Beverly Hills Cop has Eddie Murphy as a Detroit cop whose friend is murdered prompting him to temporarily relocate to the manicured streets of Beverly Hills. There he solves the crime by dispensing Detroit style street justice to a shocked local police department.

Brainstorming techniques in general are shortcut methods of creating stories that can be applied to many mediums including literature, film and television.

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