Friday, May 4, 2012

Why top ten lists are creative gold

My theme for the A-Z blogging challenge was a top ten list for each letter of the alphabet. My reason for trying this was - just for fun! I have always loved top ten lists - they almost always engage you to think of your own additions or re-ordering, don't they? Anyone remember David Letterman's top ten lists? (they're still going)!

I discovered some lists were really easy for me to put together. Some were surprisingly hard: either because I had a hard time coming up with ten things (my romance list was the hardest! Which really surprised me!) or I had a hard time narrowing down my list to just ten things.

But the bottom line was coming up with lists of ten really challenged me creatively (but I suppose you could say that about any theme you choose for the A-Z challenge. Just coming up with something for all 26 letters in any kind of theme is creatively challenging - I loved some of the other ideas I saw out there).

Towards the end, when I was writing my "W" post - my top ten writing tips, I had a Eureka moment:

6. Force yourself to make lists of ten 
Think you've come up with a brilliant plot twist? Think again. Actually, think of nine other possibilities. Your first idea is never the best idea. But if you force yourself to think of at least 10 ideas (most of them will be laughable), one or two of them might be truly brilliant.

This advice, which I don't use nearly often enough, really hit home with me after 21 top ten lists. Your first idea is never the best idea - it continually amazed me what things ended up on my lists, brainstorming after the few easiest ones immediately popped into my head. And even better, my commenters always had great additions that I wish I'd remembered.

In a deju vu kind of way, here is my top ten list of top tens. This based on number of pageviews (lists that got over 100 pageviews).

10. Period pieces (e.g. Pride and Prejudice remakes)
9. Writing Tips
8. Love Stories (e.g. Time Traveler's Wife, Beauty and the Beast)
7. Young Adult books (e.g. the Hunger Games, the Outsiders)
6. Italy - places and things
5. Fantasy lands (e.g. Narnia, Middle Earth)
4. Chocolate (e.g. Death by Chocolate, Chocolate Truffles)
3. Actors and Actresses (e.g. Meryl Streep, Harrison Ford)
2. Dramas (e.g. Gone With the Wind, the Godfather)
1. Elegant things (e.g. ballroom dancing, afternoon tea)

Some of you may groan, some of you may smile, but I'm not done with top ten lists yet. I have several more up my sleeves, many of them inspired by another great source of top tens at the Broke and the Bookish blog  (a whole collection of different book-related top tens, such as your top ten favorite book covers, top ten books I Have Lied About, top ten authors I would Die to Meet).

In the meantime, give me ideas!!! What top ten list would you love to see?

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