Story Ideas, Take Your Pick!

For my first ever! blog post, I thought I’d start with a little insight into my random brain. In case anyone cares, which they don’t. But hey, it’s my blog and here goes!

People ask me where story ideas come from.  Short answer: Everywhere.

Long answer: Everywhere. When I first started writing, I was just writing down my strange, sometimes highly entertaining dreams in a diary – and they seemed to be telling a story. I actually tried looking for that story, thinking it was something I’d heard about, or read and forgotten years ago. But no luck. There were a number of great dreams I didn’t write down because I was so sure they were a story I’d read or seen on TV. They were too good, they couldn’t be coming from my subconscious fully formed like that.

I started stringing together the dreams that I had written down into  a story – the story I wanted to read but couldn’t find. And then it became the story I needed to tell. Several of my dreams actually made it into Sunny from Afaar, my working title for my first three novels, which have now become The Faarian Chronicles.

I still dream fully formed scenes sometimes, including characters and settings, and I keep a dream journal at my bedside. But once I got used to writing consistently, ideas started coming during the day, from real life. The news and the world around us is full of strange events and stories, and I just let the imagination flow. Like:

  • The decommissioned, supposedly never operational nuclear plant on Highway 12 at Satsop, WA. A hundred stories could take place around those giant cooling towers.
  • A woman with the first successful uterus transplant gave birth recently. How long before a man could have a uterus? Or a transgender woman? Would that be cool, just too weird to contemplate, or inevitable in the (maybe distant) future?
  • A drunk government employee crashed a drone into the Whitehouse at 3AM. So many possibilities there.
  • The local outbreaks of chicken pox and measles due to “educated” people not vaccinating their kids. The first cases of polio surfacing after we thought the disease was dead, for the same reason.
  • There are three rival school districts in a fifteen mile radius in my small hometown. Pre-K through 12th grade, they have about 670, 545, and 330 kids respectively. That’s about 1550 kids in the three districts, total. I had 1600 in my high school alone (Vancouver, WA). The reason for three small school districts in such a small area? Tradition and rivalry. Consolidation is a four letter word. No don’t count. Four letters – trust me.
  • The rush and pressure to find a cure or vaccine for ebola, leading to possible rushed testing on human subjects.
  • The haratchi in Sunny’s world came from DDT use as a farming pesticide years ago and the resulting thin eggshells causing mass bird die off.

And sometimes real world events are so strange and disturbing that they don’t need any imagination or embellishment.

  • An NPR story years ago stuck with me about seed corporations in India genetically engineering crops to not produce viable seed. So farmers have to buy it season after season, year after year as the corporation jacks the price as much as possible.
  • Monsanto in the US patents their GMO crops so that when seed or pollen blows from one of their farms onto a neighbor farmers fields and takes root or produces a hybrid, contaminating the farmer’s field with the GMO crop, Monsanto sues that neighbor farmer for “stealing” their patented organism. Large corporations make charming villains. And I imagine non-profits can be just as bad.
  • A million, trillion others!

The point is, ideas are all around. It’s writing them into a cohesive story that’s hard work!