LESSON 3.2
Brainstorm the Troublemaker
Grades 7 - Adult

Prompt: You find a treasure map on your way home from school. Write a story that tells about finding the map, finding a buried treasure chest, and your adventures.  

Task 3.2.1 – Small Group

Fill out the LH and the VP:

WHAT STATEMENT

LH

VP

RH

Main Character

Verb Phrase

Troublemaker

   

OLD + OLD = POOR SUBJECT

Old Ideas

Decide if the following RH idea is Old or New.

  1. I had a problem with a treasure chest I found.
  2. I had a problem with gold in a treasure chest I found.
  3. I had a problem with jewelry in a treasure chest I found.

Do we know what the finder will do with the treasure chest or the gold or jewelry within it? No. But that does not matter. The listener or reader will be disappointed, because what the main character finds is a common idea.

Funneling

As you learned in the previous chapter, funneling means to find a more precise idea.

O + O: I had a problem with dirt I found in a treasure chest.

O + O: I had a problem with brown dirt I found in a treasure chest.

O + O: I had a problem with ugly dirt I found in a treasure chest.

O + N: I had a problem with ancient Egyptian dirt I found in a treasure chest.

Task 3.2.2 – Individual or Small Group

In the What Statements below, is the Troublemaker (the right-hand idea) a New idea or an Old idea?

WHAT STATEMENT

LH

VP

RH

Main Character

Verb PhraseTroublemaker

I

 had a problem with

a green snake I found in a treasure chest.

WHAT STATEMENT

LH

VP

RH

Main Character

Verb Phrase

Troublemaker

I

had a problem with 

a poisonous snake I found in a treasure chest. 

WHAT STATEMENT

LH

VP

RH

Main Character

Verb Phrase

Troublemaker

I

had a problem with 

a bracelet I found in a treasure chest.

WHAT STATEMENT

LH

VP

RH

Main Character

Verb Phrase

Troublemaker

I

had a problem with 

shrieking dirt I found in a treasure chest. 

WHAT STATEMENT

LH

VP

RH

Main Character

Verb Phrase

Troublemaker

I

had a problem with 

an invisible snake I found in a treasure chest. 

WHAT STATEMENT

LH

VP

RH

Main Character

Verb Phrase

Troublemaker

I

had a problem with 

a tiny flying house I found in a treasure chest. 

Task 3.2.2 – Individual or Small Group

Funnel down the troublemaker (underlined) in the following until it is a New idea:

WHAT STATEMENT

LH

VP

RH

Main Character

Verb Phrase

Troublemaker

I

had a problem with 

a(n) ___________I found in a treasure chest.

Combining

Combining ideas is also an excellent way to brainstorm New Ideas.  For example:

I had a problem with a man I found in a treasure chest.
I had a problem with a tiny man I found in a treasure chest.
I had a problem with a mirror I found in a treasure chest.
I had a problem with a tiny man of mirrors I found in a treasure chest.

I had a problem with a unicorn I found in a treasure chest.
I had a problem with a tiny Volkswagen I found in a treasure chest.
I had a problem with a unicorn driving a Volkswagen I found in a treasure chest.

Task 3.2.3 – Small Group

Combine any two of the following into a New idea.  Put the result in the RH box.

  1. I had a problem with soap bubble I found in a treasure chest.
  2. I had a problem with a pirate I found in a treasure chest.
  3. I had a problem with a tiny wild pig I found in a treasure chest.
  4. I had a problem with a tiny rapper I found in a treasure chest.
  5. I had a problem with a spoon I found in a treasure chest.
LH VP RH
Main Character
Verb Phrase
Troublemaker
I
had a problem with
a _____________I found in a treasure chest.

Task 3.2.4 – Small Group

Choose one of the following prompts. Your team must brainstorm at least 10  ideas or you will be disqualified.  Each member of your team must brainstorm at least one idea. 

Remember: there are no silly ideas.

Prompt A

On your way home you come across an abandoned car. Most of the windows are smashed out. Weeds grow around the vehicle. It obviously has not been driven in years. However, the car is running. You climb in to shut off the engine. The glove compartment is open, and a small box wrapped in gold-colored paper is inside. Trembling, you open the box. What is inside the box, and what happens next?

LH VP RH
Main Character
Verb Phrase
Troublemaker
I
had a problem with
a(n) ______________I found in a box in an old car.

Prompt B

You always have wondered about the old house at the edge of town. One day you break in. You swat at a big spider and accidentally hit a secret button.

A room opens behind the fireplace in the master bedroom. Write a story with a beginning, middle, and end about what you found in the secret room and what happened after that.

LH VP RH
Main Character
Verb Phrase
Troublemaker
I
had a problem with
a(n) ___________I found in a secret room.

Prompt C

Mrs. Sweeny, your favorite teacher, decided to swing on the swings. Faster and faster she goes until around and around she goes. No one else is nearby to help.

You leave your wheelchair and grab onto her, but as the swing swings to the sky, the chain breaks! Up into the sky you to go! What happens then?

LH VP RH
Main Character
Verb Phrase
Troublemaker
I
had a problem with
a(n) ____________ when I got swept up into the sky.

You probably have lots of ideas about what was in the treasure chest.  Perhaps this is your list:

  1. Air
  2. Feathers
  3. Magic feathers
  4. Peacock feathers
  5. Magic peacock feathers
  6. Magic dirt
  7. Dirt from ancient Egyptians
  8. Holy dirt from ancient Egyptians
  9. A tiny man
  10. A mirror
  11. A tiny man made of mirrors
  12. A giant pirate
  13. Scarves
  14. Scarves that murder people
  15. Insects
  16. An insect that murders people
  17. Perfume
  18. An insect that produces expensive perfume
  19. An insect that produces a unique perfume
  20. An insect with the reader’s name carved on its back

How Do You Choose the Best Idea for a Story?

Grade them using these grades:

A = adult strangers probably wouldn’t have thought of it AND are likely to say “Wow!”

B = adult strangers probably wouldn’t have thought of it.

C = adult strangers probably would think of it.

You might end up with a group of ideas that you graded like this:

GRADE
1
Air
C
2
Feathers
C
3
Magic feathers
C
4
Peacock feathers
C
5
Magic peacock feathers
B
6
Magic dirt
C
7
Dirt from ancient Egyptians
B
8
Holy dirt from ancient Egyptians
A
9
A tiny man
C
10
A mirror
C
11
A tiny man made of mirrors
A
12
A giant pirate
B
13
Scarves
C
14
Scarves that murder people
A
15
Insects
C
16
An insect that murders people
B
17
Perfume
C
18
An insect that produces expensive perfume
C
19
An insect that produces a unique perfume
B
20
An insect with the reader’s name carved on its back
A

Task 3.2.5 – Small Group

Grade your ideas. If you do not have at least three A ideas, then—

Do more brainstorming

Funnel a B or C idea

Use hitchhiking

Use a Decision Chart

We now can make a decision chart to choose our best idea. 

Idea Which would you like to do a story about? Which will adults probably like best? Total
Holy dirt from ancient Egyptians
A tiny man made of mirrors
Scarves that murder people
An insect that produces a unique perfume
An insect with the reader’s name carved on its back
  • There are 5 “A” ideas, so rank them 1-5, with 5 being the best
  • Go back and forth: 5, then 1; 4, then 2; 3
  • Check to make sure no number is repeated in a column
  • Add up the columns
  • The winning number is what everyone will work on
  • In case of a tie, flip a coin. If three or more tie, put them in a can and draw one

Example:

Idea Which would you like to do a story about? Which will adults probably like best? Total
Holy dirt from ancient Egyptians
1
5
6
A tiny man made of mirrors
4
4
8
Scarves that murder people
3
1
4
An insect that produces a unique perfume
5
3
8
An insect with the reader’s name carved on its back
2
2
4

Enter the result in the RH of your What Statement

WHAT STATEMENT

LH

VP

RH

Main Character

Verb Phrase

Troublemaker

I

had a problem with 

a tiny man of mirrors I found in a buried treasure chest.