Today's exercise comes from Writing Excuses 10.1: Seriously, Where Do You Get Your Ideas?.
The exercise is as follows:
Write down five different story ideas in 150 words or less. Generate these ideas from these five sources:
- From an interview or conversation you’ve had
- From research you’ve done (reading science news, military history, etc)
- From observation (go for a walk!)
- From a piece of media (watch a movie)
- From a piece of music (with or without lyrics)
Writing after the fold.
In no particular order. (MC means Main Character.)
MC is a college-aged student who decides to take a year off from school and work to go on a tree-hugging hajj. She stops by a tree-hugger travel agency - an agency where one looks through shelves of plants, picks one, and has to carry the plant back to its ancestral home - to pick up a plant. She walks past aisles of plants from all over the world, finally finding an ugly plant on the lowest shelf that has plants from (what in our world we would call) Falkland Islands. She waits in one line to pay for the purchase, then in another to be bound to the plant. Once bound, the hajj becomes her purpose in life. The bond is a legally-binding contract between her and the plant, and anyone who tries to stop her in her quest will face harsh penalties. She is already packed and so embarks on the trip that same day.
A man starts dating a woman he recently met. But his dream self keeps barging into our world and staring at them. The man’s dream self appears in the man’s home, sitting in his beanbag chair, then across the street from a coffee shop where the man and the woman meet up for a date. The dream persona doesn’t speak, and disappears when the man approaches it, but it’s usually there, keeping an eye on the man and his new lady-friend. Unlike most dream personas who show up and act like a path-way to the subconscious, this one just shows up and stares, silently. The man tries to find the dream persona in the dreams, but when he goes to various locations in the dream - amusement park, Great Barrier Reef, dark side of the moon, the places he spends a lot of dream time at - the dream persona isn’t there. The dream persona isn’t anywhere in the dreams.
There’s a village on a beach, pretty peaceful, but lately their fishing has been underperforming: the fishing ships go out, but there is nothing to catch, the fish have moved somewhere else. This happens at around the same time that a traveler came to town. He piloted a small sailship into bay one day, said that he came from farther up the shore, somewhere that most villagers don’t know about and have never been. After he’s been there a week or so, a red tide moves in and kills whatever fish there is and makes them poisoned, and kills two villagers who swim in the waters. The villagers have heard about the red tide, some elders remember it from their childhoods and recall the suffering. They blame the newcomer and decide to sacrifice him to the red tide. They take a boat out, drop the traveler overboard into the poisoned red waters as a sacrifice. The traveler is not hurt by the poison.
The MC lives in a very nice, very big, very happy country, which itself occupies a large continent. There is a large ocean around the continent. Everyone who has ever tried sailing away from the continent and into the ocean has disappeared and never returned. Because of this, the people on this continent have put up great big towers around their continent to stop silly sailors from killing themselves. One day, the MC is walking home when she is attacked and knocked unconscious. She awakens on a large ship. At first it looks deserted, but then she hears voices and realizes that there are people somewhere above. She runs up the stairs and finds hundreds of people on a ship, all similarly bewildered and groggy. She gets to the edge of the boat and notices countless more ships around them, all sailing away from the continent, the closest towers partially hidden behind the horizon, belching smoke and fire into the sky.
People are able to feel those that they love. Parents love and can feel their children, know where they are (if they’re close enough to them spatially), maybe even pick up a mood. A couple has a teenage daughter. The parents have a fight and lose track of each other, then both feel that their daughter is missing. They rush to her bedroom, but the daughter has been kidnapped. She’s been knocked unconscious and they cannot feel her presence. The village where they live has a concept of a watchman, a person who is close with all the inhabitants of the village, is a friend to all, attends every wedding, every graduation or funeral. There are six in the village, and they keep a connection with all the villagers, are aware of where everyone is. They can feel a murder as it is happening. Theirs is a duty. They were incapacitated while the teenage daughter was kidnapped.