Expanding on ideas

Hello readers!

I use the plural because I’m sure there are at least two of you…

Time for another blog update. The motivation has been consistent – the discussions in the Pony Club are helping thrash out some plot issues, belting around ideas to get to the real meat within, and generally just keeping me accountable. It’s great, and if you are not a member of a writing group, you should look into it.

Primary WiP is slowly progressing under the Zero Fuckery method of 350 words a day; currently at 4,753, although this is a few days behind due to a bad cold keeping me in bed.

I’ve also bashed around a little plot idea for a second WiP that has got me enthused, but that I’m only allowed to look at when I’ve progressed the Primary WiP. That’s right kids, Primary WiP before Secondary.

Anyway, here is the homework for Writing Excuses Season 10 Episode 2, following on from last week’s topic. This episode is about expanding ideas and developing it towards a story.

Expanding on your ideas to build a story

 Using last week’s five story ideas (or five new ones):

  • Take two of them and combine them into one story.
  • Take one and change the genre underneath it.
  • Take one and change the ages and genders of everybody you had in mind for it
  • Take the last one and have a character make the opposite choice.

Ok – right up front I want to say that this was way hard, and some of these are very very forced… but I suppose that this is what makes the exercise valuable. Vandermeer in his Wonderbook talks highly about exercising the imagination regularly, and I expect exercises like this are how you do it.

…Take two of them and combine them into one story

Combining my humorous occult investigator idea and my black mirror self-driving cars idea…

Let’s be honest – these two got combined because everything else in the homework was easier to do. But if I’m forced to smash these ideas together, then my thoughts start to move away from ‘self driving cars’ and simple questions of ethics into more complex AI and religion ideas. What if the world is populated by a significant number of AI’s (robots etc) and they find…god. Or at least they find their own concept of god, which causes conflict with the  religious humans, some of which feel that AI does not have a soul, and others that feel that Humans, as the creators, should be worshiped by the robots. 

Side idea: if you have robot religion, do you have software priests? Confessional patches? What does that say about malware – is it the equivalent of satanic possession? That would bring the occult flavour back in…


Oops. I wrote this on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, remembered this:

Oh well, not every idea can be original.

…Take one and change the genre underneath it

From my idea about damaged army veterans, I wondered about switching genres from modern action or psychological thriller to fantasy…

The idea of veterans struggling to successfully reenter life after war is not a new one, and warriors down the ages have likely encountered it. What if these were not simple warriors though, but wizards. War Wizards. Think of incidents of PTSD that would occur if you had to frequently face hordes of undead skeletons or dodged lightning bolts and fireballs? And when the war is over, and the War Wizards can come home…it’s not like they hand in their guns become welders – these wizards still have the spells in their minds, the powers at their fingertips. When your troops come back, how do you keep your War Wizards from destroying the nation they just saved?

I actually think this one has legs, it could be done with a fair degree of comedy, or you could play a straight bat and take it down a traditional fantasy path.

…Take one and change the ages and genders of everybody

From my creepy tattoo skin remover surgeon idea…

Another tough one, but what if we made the middle age male skin remover doctor an older woman? Technically there is nothing that needs to change here, but making the skin remover a woman made me take a different tack; what if instead of harvesting tattoos, she is taking revenge for a disfigurement? There are horror stories around acid attacks and burnings etc, and sometimes these have a cultural aspect, etc – but in almost every instance it is male on female violence. What if our older woman doctor had ‘had enough’ treating the victims, and had decided to punish the perpetrators. She would need to find a way to subdue the attacker, then isolate them and then…start removing the skin. Probably the face. Would she let them live on after this? 

…Take the last one and have a character make the opposite choice

And finally from my dream realm refugee idea…

In my original idea, I implied that the hero would try to stop the dream refugees entering reality by solving their problems in the dream world. What if our hero decided to help the refugees get into reality? He holds his dreams open so they can escape and he creates a dream ‘underground railroad’ to protect the dreamworlders as they enter reality and get established? This would create conflicts both in reality and in the dream world – is he exposing himself, and how does he hide himself in his dreams?

So… look, I’ll admit these are not all great, but I kinda like the War Wizards: Mission Accomplished idea I think it has legs, and the dream refugee feels like there is a little more too it, if not a whole story yet.

Let me know what you think! What stories would you have combined? Which genre would you have switched?




Published by: wildbilbo

My name is Kristian Thoroughgood, alternately known as KT to my friends, or @WildBilbo on twitter. As of August 2015, I am forty years old. Australian. My blog is intended to be both a place for me to polish my creative writing muscles (not a double entendre) and for others to read and comment on my musings. Expect short stories, articles, essays and other brain dumps. My opinions are my own, and whilst I take care to be at least moderately informed about any topic I speak or write about, these opinions are subject to rapid change in the face of passionate arguments and greater evidence. Please note - on my blog, Evidence beats Passion.

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