Thursday, June 18, 2009

Story Generator

Hello, Out There...!

With that nod to Mr. Saroyan, I'm coming back to my blog, hopefully to stay this time.

For various reason that will probably come out in subsequent posts, the focus of my writing has shifted. I'm currently working on a series of short stories sent in a future timeline I've created that I call "The Tauian Adventure." It focuses on Humanity's history after we are contacted by an alien race that comes to be known as 'The Tau.' They arrive in orbit on April 1, 2023 (Four-One-Two-Three). They help us keep from destroying ourselves and then, after a few years, they leave without an explanation, taking hundreds of thousands of people with them. More about this ongoing project in future posts.


This is a method of generating ideas for stories that I got years ago and decided to share. It was from one of the gazillion books on writing that I've purchased over the years. If I can remember which one, I'll post the title.

It works like this... Take three things that happen to you on any given day. They don't have to be related. In fact, it's often better if the events are completely unrelated. Write a paragraph describing each event. For example, three things that happened to me were: Being stopped at a red light in downtown L.A. while the police barricaded the street ahead of me, having someone not show up for an appointed meeting, meeting someone begging for money with a story about having to pay for their hospital treatment.

Once you've written about the events, write down something you believe in. The depth or strength of the belief is not as important as the fact it is something you really do feel or think. "People should be kind to each other," or "Aliens are sending signals to my brain," can both work as long as they are honest beliefs.

Once you have these four paragraphs down, make this realization: All of the stuff you've written about is related. Intimately related. In my example above, the person not showing up for the appointment, the police blocking the road, and the person begging for money to pay a doctor, all of these events are part of the same story. The belief you wrote down, let's say, "people always fulfill their responsibilities," is the theme that ties these events together.

I've found this method to be remarkable in giving me situations and characters that reeked of story telling potential. And you don't necessarily have to limit yourself to events of a single day. Something that happened to you as a child, linked with something from last year, linked to something you maybe want to happen tomorrow can all work.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.



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