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January 8th, 2015

12:32 pm
Writing Excuses is running a master class on writing this season.

And they are assigning... homework.

This week's episode is on idea generation, and the homework is this:

Write down five different story ideas in 150 words or less. Generate these ideas from these five sources:
1. From an interview or conversation you've had
2. From research you've done (reading science news, military history, etc)
3. From observation (go for a walk!)
4. From a piece of media (watch a movie)
5. From a piece of music (with or without lyrics)

I have more ideas than I know what to do with, and I've gotten them from all these sources. So I'll do this particular bit of homework as a retrospective.

1. We were in Glacier National Park, and the Hubby mentioned that bears are "big, dumb, and dangerous." I wondered what would happen if you ended up with a bear that was big, smart, and dangerous, and "Bear Essentials" was born. It's available in the "Far Orbit" anthology.

2. I was looking at pictures of prehistoric bug fossils and wondered "Why don't we have dragonflies with two-foot wingspans anymore?" Research revealed that we'd need about twice the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere than we have today, I thought about how to achieve that and what other effects it would have, and a couple of articles in Popular Science later, "The Road to Hell" was born. It's available at DomainSF.

3. Visiting the Hubby's sister in St. Louis, we walked down an eerily empty downtown street. No traffic, no people, closed businesses. Even the homeless weren't hanging out there. It was creepifying, honestly, and some of the architecture was... hah, interesting, to say the least. It had personality. So I wondered what would happen to turn a bustling city center into... well, that, and wrote "Guardians of Public Safety." It will be available soon in "First and Starlight."

4. Wait, I have to pick one? Well, my spaceship crew was inspired by Firefly. Alex Jarrett is a sort of Tony Stark without the asshole gene, who does Big Pharma rather than weapons. Ben started out as Harry Lockhart from "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" and morphed into someone completely different. And "The Cow and the Beanstalk" began from the premise of "why in the world would a guy pay actual magic beans for an ordinary cow?"

5. "He won his soul and lost the war," a lyric line from "The Death of Johnny Mooring" by Enter the Haggis, inspired "Better a Millstone." That line haunted me for a good long while while I noodled exactly how that would happen and what kind of character it would happen to. This one hasn't found a home yet, because it's dark and kind of depressing and I kill lots of things in it they say you're not supposed to kill. Also, it's long. I consider it a dark fantasy rather than horror, because it's a secondary world rather than ours. This is also one I can point to the roleplay and say that it had a direct effect on my fiction, because the angel and demon characters will be very familiar to anyone who's read any of the fun stuff I've done in that with werewolf_hacker and guriel.

Where do you get your ideas? EVERYWHERE.