Addition & Subtraction

Creative Techniques for Creative People - Addition & Subtraction Header

What is the Addition & Subtraction Creative Technique?

In Addition & Subtraction successive qualifying words or statements are deployed to add structure, shading and colour to initial Specific Ideas (i.e. the core subject being investigated).

How does Addition & Subtraction work?

The Addition & Subtraction Technique adds a qualifying word/statement to, or subtracts a qualifying word/statement from, the opening specific idea.  Each addition or subtraction will generate a point-of-departure that can be further developed into a creative theme.

The following illustration of  Addition & Subtraction uses specific ideas on the subject of The Failed Revolutionary.  Qualifying words or statements (i.e. general ideas) – which in this example have been selected at random – are then added to, or subtracted from the specific idea subject.

Each addition or subtraction creates a different general theme which, in turn, generates a new point-of-departure (i.e. a new creative direction in which the work could develop).

The points-of-departure can be combined – or an individual point can be further developed – to produce a first draft text.  This first draft text can then be further developed in any chosen direction to satisfy the creative objective(s).

Demonstration: Addition & Subtraction

The following is a simple illustration of the Addition & Subtraction Creative Thinking Technique.

The Specific Ideas

In this Illustration of the Addition & Subtraction Technique the Specific Ideas are outlined by the following sentence:

That he was not jailed for speaking out against the state caused him intense embarrassment.

The General Ideas

Creative Thinking Technique: Addition & Subtraction

The following qualifying words were chosen at random for this illustration of the Addition & Subtraction Creative Technique:

Add: Context

Add: Identity

Add: Envy

Subtract: Energy

Subtract: Spin

Derived Themes

Points-of-departure which can be further developed into a creative text.

The following is a first-draft list of points of departure for a creative text – and is designed to show how the Addition & Subtraction Technique uses qualifying words to develop the flow of general ideas from starting (specific) ideas:

Add: Context

When he arrived in the town he was brim full of energy.  He was vain, combative and insolent.  Around him was material he needed for his revolution.  Here were the privileged, protecting their interest, their hands glued to the levers of power.  Here were the disadvantaged, their controlled, dull and arduous lives dictated by limitations of birth rather than shortness of ability.  Here was the divide.  The poor housing collected in the dust at the edge of the fields  The wealthy areas built into the hillside, where the wind carried clean air down from snow-capped mountains.

Add: Identity

With time on his hands, and more time to burn, he built himself an identity.  He modelled himself on the famed revolutionaries of the past.  His was a country with a history like a rusty hinge.  It resisted movement, and then jumped open a small distance when someone pushed hard enough against the closed door that the hinge sustained.  He could list the revolutionaries that had moved that door slightly ajar.  They built upon a foundation of resentment, commanded audiences, drove disturbance, avoided capture, and then suffered as the unsettled authorities hit out to regain hold of the lever of power; but found that hold weakened nevertheless.

Add: Envy

The history section of the bookshop in the centre of the town was the source of the future he imagined for himself.  He bought second hand copies of the ‘Lives of Revolutionaries’.  He envied the easy manner in which the thumbed pages of this series of books described how Followers gathered around a Revolutionary; how the words of their Revolutionary inflamed emotions and coordinated actions.  These Followers even put themselves at risk to defend the energy and momentum-for-change carried in the body and soul of their own cherished revolution.   He longed for the right circumstance, emotion and an intense charisma that seemed to propel these revolutions, just as the right inflammable material, oxygen and an intense spark gives rise to the inferno.

Subtract: Energy

In truth he was growing tired.  He had thrown himself into the role of the revolutionary.  He offered himself as the free evening entertainment of any organisation or stage that would give him a credible outing.  He wrote endless articles for any media in search of column inches to fill an inside page cheaply.  On damp, winter market days he was there on any available raised platform, highlighting inequality to the townsfolk who had gathered in the town centre in search of vegetables, wool for repairs, and perhaps a few eggs.  He was tired.  He had drained himself in search of his own revolution and nobody, and particularly not the  privileged authorities, was interested.

Subtract: Spin

On the coldest day of that winter the weight of reality began eventually to snap the threads of the delusions that he had spun for himself.  He was, at long last, detained by an officer of the law.  The charge was not for causing a revolution, but for causing an obstruction.  It was an uncomfortable silence that accompanied him into the prison cell.

‘You are an idiot,’ said a voice in his head.  He looked up and realised that the voice was not in his head, but it was instead drifting across the prison corridor.

Essential Glanside

A detailed process to manage the use of Creative Techniques for the development of original artwork and written work is set out in the section Essential Glanside.