Friday, August 12th, 2011

Writing Prompt – Using Google Searches and Twitter Trends for Ideas

Google Trends Map - SampleI’m spending a lot of time on line for my day job lately (whether I like it or not!) – and I realized that Google search provides some interesting ideas for writing prompts.

Today’s top 20 USA searches (at this moment) are:

1. so you think you can dance winner
2. warrant
3. gop debate
4. republican debate
5. ron paul
6. short selling
7. raiders
8. mitt romney
9. meteor shower
10. rick santorum
11. sc
12. chargers
13. cowboys
14. jeff bridges
15. final destination 5
16. alpha
17. mall of america
18. blackberry bold 9900
19. pizza hut
20. haaretz

These topics aren’t really interesting, IMHO, but no worries: Google updates the trends frequently. If you don’t like these searches for prompt suggestions, wait an hour!

Google saves this data on a daily basis, so, you also see what trended on specific days (like national holidays, big news days, or your birthday.) (More information about Google Trends here.)

Twitter also keeps a running list of trending tweet topics on their site. If you have an account, the information is available to you on line. I’m not sure which, if any, third-party twitter clients provide this data, but fear not: the data is available elsewhere.

(But the beauty of getting the Twitter data from the online interface is that the trends default to your location…. but you can change it to show another city if you want, or you can choose national or world-wide trends as well.)

The current trends for Las Angeles are:

Jani Lane
American Dad
Bert and Ernie
Minutes or Less
That 70
Pauly D

If you don’t tweet, you can still get twitter trending data from a number of sources such as Tendsmap and Tendistic.

Here’s Your Prompt:

Head on over to Google Trends and see what’s popular.

Pretend that a character in your story is making these searches on the internet. Why is he searching these items? What’s happening in your story to support these searches? Is your character surprised by what she found? Is what he found important to the story? Figure out the motivation for your character making these searches. Decide how he’ll use the information, and write it.

If you don’t have a character…

…use the trending topics as a jumping off point for a timed writing exercise. Use the topics as an idea generator, or use them as the beginning (or ending line) of a story. They might even be used as the opening sentence in a story.