The SCAMPER Method: A Creativity Crisis Breaker

Not everyone wakes up in the middle of the night to stumble in the dark, find a notepad or their phone’s notes app to write down a fresh idea for a novel.

Most people struggle with creativity.

As a matter of fact in an article in Newsweek dated July 2010, authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman found that creativity is on a downward slide especially in younger children.  In their article Professor Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William and Mary stated that of those who took the Torrance Test which measures creativity have shown a steady decrease since 1990.

I guess all I’m saying is that you are not alone if you do not feel very creative.  If you have written a novel that is different and not just like everyone else’s best seller, then you can consider yourself in a minority.  

Today I thought I would share an exercise I do with my “Write to Publish” class which seems to cause the creative juices to flow.  It is called SCAMPER.  I found it on and have modified it to use for writing prose.

First one must think of a story they are working on or an overused plot like the dystopian novel or the vampire novel, then use the following method to figure out something new.

SCAMPER is of course an acronym for the following:

S = Substitute – Ask yourself what you could substitute within the worn out storyline?  What could you eliminate or subtract?

C = Combine – What if you combined two types of genres like the dystopian novel with a murder mystery?

A = Adapt – What if you change a main character, like your heroine for example, from a statuesque beauty to an overweight girl with body image issues.

M = Modify – Magnify – Take a character trait and magnify it, making it exaggerated or grotesque.  How can you add a character trait to an existing character to make them more multilayered?

P = Put to Other Uses – What part of your novel or overused genre can be tweaked and changed to serve other purposes?  What if  Walter White would have stopped Jesse Pinkman’s girlfriend from choking to death during an overdose?  

E = Eliminate – Cut something out of the story that is essential and then find a way around it.  If there is some type of element that is just not working, cut it out and re-write the rest to fill the gap.

R = Reverse – What if you told the story in a non-linear narrative?  What if the story was told in reverse order?  

I hope that these tips help, as I do for all the tips I write for this blog.  If they do, and you have other uses for the SCAMPER method, drop a comment in the box below.

Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

2 thoughts on “The SCAMPER Method: A Creativity Crisis Breaker

  1. I DO like this bolg and I wonder if you kindly show ne how to use this method as a tool for developing adult EFL students’ essay wrting.

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