Shifting Perimeters

Creative Techniques for Creative People - Perimeters

What is the Shifting Perimeters Technique?

Shifting Perimeters is a technique-for-creativity that is used to compare and contrast ideas.  Glanside Creativity results from identifying the perimeters of a specific idea, and replacing these perimeter words with others derived from a creative technique or selected to a creative objective.   The result is general ideas – written in the form of phrases – that are used to provide alternative approaches to a creative work.

How does Shifting Perimeters work?

Creative direction flows from the specific to the general.  Shifting Perimeters starts from a specific idea in the form of a phrase that captures the ideas you wish to develop.  The specific idea – embodying the direction, material, concept or theme that you wish to investigate or dissect – is then developed in possible alternative directions by combining, adding, or subtracting general ideas. 

The following illustration of the Shifting Perimeters Creative Technique begins with a specific idea described in three sentences. 

Random words – obtained for this demonstration from an online random words generator – are then used to replace the chosen perimeters of each sentence.  The result is three new phrases (i.e. general ideas) that provide alternative themes, idea mixes and artistic angles.  These new phrases are then used to generate alternative points-of-departure – the potential starting points for a creative work.

Demonstration: Shifting Perimeters

The following is a simple illustration of the Shifting Perimeters Creative Thinking Technique.

Creative Techniques for Creative People - Perimeters

Derived Themes

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

The following first draft text has been derived by replacing the chosen perimeter words of the three starting ‘specific idea’ phrases (here selected from magazine articles) with alternative selected random words as shown in the above diagram.

This first draft text could be further developed: or alternatively the process could be repeated to provide an alternative point-of-departure for the required creative objectives.


It had been a long journey, with only his impenetrable exterior keeping him from surrendering to the inevitable.  He had, at last, arrived and he could not believe his luck.  He had never seen a community that offered so much opportunity to the scoundrel.

There are places where authority is spread as evenly as butter on cold toast.  There are equally places where a few ambitious and, in their view, undervalued Somebodies have their greasy hands on all the machinery of approval.  They are like the few moving and movable components of a lock.  A carefully crafted key can quickly encourage their smooth and coordinated action.

It took him only four weeks to tie up the loose ends.  Every required signature was acquired by the Clerk-to-the-Council, who quickly proved to be as politically effective as he was cost effective.

The village lay at the bottom of a steep hill and was overlooked only by woodland.  His project could mushroom in the shadow of that woodland, delivering the outcome and the payback he had promised to his backers, before any interfering outsider could stamp their foot down and crush this mushroom back into the rotting leaf-litter.

He breathed in. Even the evening air smelled of leaf-litter.

‘The fragrance of a promised land,’ he said to the discreet trees that surrounded and cloaked him as the wind caressed through their branches.

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.