Wednesday, April 13, 2022

I'm done with my experiment!

I began this thinking I could spin 1000 story and novel ideas in a week, which would be 142 per day. Mid-day, I was thinking, probably I couldn't do this daily. Once a week, I could get 140 maybe. And then I hit idea #106, and I liked it. Really liked it, and I "had to" go write some more notes about it. I wrote a couple of scenes a brief outline, and it went into my real "ideas" folder along with others. And now, having done that for two hours, I'm due at a social event and can't write this evening to get the other 37 (which I do think I could get). 

Could I write 142 again tomorrow? No, I don't think so. I need a few days off to re-charge the creative computer. A week would be better. So I revise my previous brag. I think I could write 100 kernels for stories and novels per week... for a while. A few thousand per year, and I'd only be able to write a handful of novels and a handful of stories from them.


Here are the final few I wrote today:

Horror comedy story based on my writing friend AM Scott saying “I use the best parts of my husband for my heroes.” (aww, I know. That is sweet.) A female writer actually uses the best parts of her husband for her heroes. All that’s left after a year is the inability to ask for directions, acting like a head cold is going to kill him, and a wet spot. (okay, it was sexist of me. But funny, c’mon.)

A serial killer who decides he wants to kill stupid people. He finds them at sporting events, in bars talking about politics, overhears them asking questions he thinks are unnecessary. Ironically, he’s not as smart as he thinks he is, but he does befuddle police because they can see it’s serial but not see the connection between victims.

A little boy in the 1960s in the US reads an old novel about a kid being abducted by Gypsies. His home life is unhappy, and he starts hunting for Gypsies that he hopes will abduct him. In so doing, he makes a sympathetic older friend who saves his sanity and gives him uncomplicated love and approval.

A politician with a good heart/intentions also has a drunken brother. Her story is a tragedy, for she loves the brother so much, she lets him take down her career. Love interest of a local cop who can see what’s coming but tragically can’t get her to cut the brother loose. She loses career, lover, and is left with a useless, hopeless brother.

A mystery is in the ice rink where PI both skates for fun and does massages for income, where a gigolo of a straight coach is murdered on the ice with a skate. A schizophrenic man skates there—he talks to himself, sees things no one else does, and thinks he can do tricks he cannot—and he is arrested for the crime. My sleuth’s sense of justice is upset, so she takes on the search for the truth, despite the risks.

A mine, 1971. One brother, new to the area, owes money to a loan shark. The other brother, very similar looking, is a hard worker but less bright. There’s a cave in. Brother A decides to take brother B’s identity, let him die in the mine, and come out with no debt. But someone is suspicious and an investigation ensues, and then a manhunt, from both police and the mob.

This new technology that allows a blind person to see through intrusion of receptors into visual cortex; they see dots. What if they started seeing something we do not? Spectral beings, dead people. Something important but very hard to convince others they really were seeing.

What if schizophrenics were a new species, a more advanced human? Let’s posit they are, and see where a novel starring a schizophrenic and a young doctor (resident at a hospital) who suspects this will take us, in the face of skepticism, the doctor’s nasty supervisor.

Horror short story. Every time Jack looks in a mirror, it steals a piece of his soul. He knows he’ll be in trouble by the time he’s 25. And indeed, he is.

In the nursing home, various characters get involved in an ongoing dispute. One man, a compulsive liar, keeps telling lies. When one day he claims he is “Question Mark” of “And the Mysterians” (a 60s band), one old man has had enough! He sets out to prove the liar is a liar, and much trouble ensues.

A petty criminal driving along sees a sign on a church. “Hope for Total Failures.” Instead of steering in for pastoral counseling, this recognition of himself as a “total failure” spurs him on to commit more violent crimes. But he really is kind of a loser (the sign was right), and he’s going to get caught and killed.

“The bus ride.” A lighthearted slice of life story story. Only because I always wanted to use something a bus driver once said to me “This is the shortest mountain chain in the world.” I mean, who keeps track? But more strange comments from passengers and the driver could keep this lively for 2500 words. Just go out and listen at a bus stop, or the beer tent at a county fair, and you’ll get plenty of comments to add to a story like this!

A SF writer names his three robots Hex, Hox, and Rex, and his proofreader murders him. (Thanks, Marcus!) A short story, for they'll figure out whodunnit pretty quickly. And no jury of proofreaders would convict.

You know that thing they say about “if you heat a frog in water slowly enough, from tepid to boiling, he’ll never jump out. He’ll just boil to death and die.” So: the story of whatever sicko scientist ran that experiment, if it really ever was run. What drove him to do it? What did people say to him when he did? Did he ever have nightmares afterward?

Day 1, Session 2. 91 of 142 for the day.

Let me be honest. I don't think I'll stay interested enough to get to 1000 in a week, but I will get 142 in the day to prove I can do it at this rate.

Session 2 was all predicated on the basic setting of "the vegetable garden." I got a list of genres, and I went at it.

II: The vegetable garden plots (bonus pun. Plot/plot, hahaha)

Romance, enemies to friends romcom. In England, two allotment gardeners argue over everything: your fruit bushes are in the path, your compost attracts flies, your mulberries are staining my pavers, your hot peppers are interbreeding with my sweet peppers… and all the while they fall for each other.

Romance, rekindled. Divorced parents teach their kids to garden and come back together over a love of  kids and gardening.

Romance, historical/forbidden love. In Regency England, a woman whose Earl husband is gay falls for the gardener. (Wait, I think this is a little like Lady Chatterly! Oops, but you could write it entirely differently).

Romance, steamy. + Friends to lovers. Well that about writes itself! Be careful though, as you may not know cucumbers grow with little prickles all over them. Love among the courgettes. Optionally a gay romance.

Romance, forbidden/contemporary/older love. An affair between two Master Gardeners, each of whom has a problematic marriage (one might care for a disabled partner who can no longer have sex, the other a spouse who often cheats, though this character has never). Sharing an enthusiasm builds a bond, and week-long training creates and opportunity. Tragic, as the one caring for the disabled partner cannot, will not leave.

Women’s fiction. A woman soil scientist tries to gain traction in a field dominated by men, while at home, problems with her teenage children escalate.

Mainstream fiction. In trying to develop an insect resistant kind of broccoli, in a lab, rivalries cause person to try and steal the MC’s work. (aside, if you find an insect resistant kind of broccoli, WRITE ME. Lol)

Mainstream fiction. When, after his genetic experiments with insect-resistant broccoli have been stolen, MC devises a diabolical plan of revenge on the theft. It involves plant-killing fungi.

Post-apocalyptic. When, a plant-killing fungi developed by once scientist to exact revenge on a plant thief get out of the lab, crops die, starvation ensues, and civilization collapses. Good luck growing more food once that’s out there!

YA. A group of four teens who love vegetable gardening are outcasts, but together they build an outsiders’ group that helps them weather four different teen problems. (Divorce of parents, eating disorders, etc.)

YA. Taking down the popular kids trope. Bullies get their comeuppance. TW: Going to be some tomato throwing in this one!

MG. A group of four MG kids who love vegetable gardening are outcasts, but when the autumn dance is on the verge of disaster because the caterer didn’t show up, they rescue everyone with their delicious tables of fruit and cruditees. (just add ranch dressing.)

Kids. A child decides to grow a vegetable starting with every letter. X may be a problem he never solves, but there’s a lesson in that too.

Historical: Thomas Jefferson’s gardens would make a backdrop for several possible tales, designated TJ.

TJ 1) A slave woman hoeing the rows catches TJ’s eye. Uhoh, how does she avoid the handsy boss without getting killed or sold or beaten?

TJ2) A slave woman ends up being a great gardener, and she is elevated in responsibility.

TJ3) Jefferson himself tries to breed a better bean. Attempts, failures, final success

TJ3a) And falls in love with a correspondent (he wrote lots of people and traded lots of seeds)

Survival fiction. Lost on a desert island, Cruz Robinson tries to find ways to grow enough food to survive. Animals, insects, birds, tropical storms all seem to conspire against him.

Fairytale Retelling: retelling Jack and the Beanstalk in modern terms. It’s about… aha, alternative fuels. The giant is a not very disguised version of Elon Musk, mad, bad, and plain GD weird.

Comedy. Dad decides he’ll start a big garden. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Expensive! Disastrous! Embarrassing to the kids and everyone else! Things fall, things burn, he gets hives. Bears arrive in a place there are no bears to eat the berries. You name it. Police intervention is needed at times, animal control, even Child Protection is called. Poor dad. But everything turns out okay in the end. He gets one perfect tomato, at least.

Kids mystery: who is stealing the tomatoes from the garden patch? A person? An animal? Which one?

Cozy mystery series: all titled with bad puns, of course. Hoe dunnits. (omg, what is wrong with me today with the puns?)  Book 1. You Bug Me! A gardener friend everyone in town seems to adore is poisoned with insect poison. Hoe dunnit?

Book 2. A cook has been poisoned when someone took parsley out of their garden and replaced it with (that poisonous stuff that looks just like parsley, too lazy to look it up.) The Cook is Toast. Hoe dunnit?

Book 3. A showpiece garden of the Snooty Old Lady in charge of the garden club is sprayed with Roundup, on the way to her being murdered. Was it the person who lost the election for that presidency? Her ne’er do well grandson? Her quiet and meek husband? Hoe dunnit? (out of joke titles now, to everyone’s great relief)

Book 4. The local organic farmer who sells at the farmer’s market a town up is murdered. “Greenie, die!” is spray painted on his new 2000 square foot high tunnel. Who did it? The fired worker? The unpaid intern? The worker who sells the veg at the market and used to sleep with the farmer?

Book 5. Experimental seed collector is found suffocated with hundreds of seed packets in his throat and mouth. Hoedunnit? The neighboring farmer who hates the crossbreeding that has ruined his crop? The rival seed collector? The spouse who is sick and tired of seed packets on every surface? (btw, a real thing spouses feel!)

Book 6. The small town’s remaining living gardeners (funny thing about small town cozy series, that anyone is left alive by book 6) decide to build a community garden. Many arguments follow  about design, soil type, size of plots, fencing, you name it. One of them is found dead on the newly dug plot. Which of them did it?

Historical/war short: Napoleon’s Army is on the march. They need to be fed. A farming widow is approached by a logistics officer, and instead of raping her and stealing the food, he immediately likes her and negotiates with her. He will take her adventure-starved son into the army, he will pay her money for her crops, and he will steer the army away from her. In exchange, he only asks that she (er, what? I’ll figure that out later, when I write this short story.)

Political: the leader of the nation wants the gardener of the mansion/palace to rip up all the flower gardens and replace them with food, an encouragement for the populace to be more self-sufficient. A bitter battle ensues (with one person very powerful and the other only having secret ways to undermine him).

Political/historical. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Cuba planted thousands of urban cooperative gardens to offset reduced rations of imported food. This happened. How? Who spearheaded it? How did they get individual people to do it? Who was against them? Who wrote the propaganda that worked so well? I don’t have the research, but the research would inform the book’s plot.

Espionage/historical: “In 2011, a field manager for agribusiness giant Pioneer Hi-Bred International found a man on his knees in an Iowa field, digging up seed corn. It was Mo Hailong — also known as Robert Mo — according to court documents. Hailong, who is originally from China, pleaded guilty in January 2016 to conspiring to steal trade secrets involving corn seed developed by Monsanto and Pioneer.” There’s a whole novel idea right there.

Historical: The David Fairchild story. “David Grandison Fairchild (April 7, 1869 – August 6, 1954) was an American botanist and plant explorer. Fairchild was responsible for the introduction of more than 200,000 exotic plants and varieties of established crops into the United States, including soybeans, pistachios, mangos, nectarines, dates, bamboos, and flowering cherries.” He sees himself as an explorer and botanist, some people (like those of us who love pistachios) might see him as a minor hero, and some cultures might see him as a thief. A novel could explore those various views of him, through invented characters, a local poor farmer somewhere who doesn’t understand the deal he’s making, the head of a nation who knows his crop being exported to the US means money for poor farmers, etc.

Political: Aboriginal Australians and white Australians making money from “permaculture,” who appropriate native ideas and capitalize on them. Conflict between a local native leader and a greedy permaculture lecturer/book author. Explores the question “Who owns knowledge?”

Military/historical. Samuel Pepys (the diarist, to most of us) was also instrumental in figuring out how to feed the Royal Navy, after a defeat to the Dutch that was partly due to sailors’ hunger. Who fought his new ideas? Good conflict there, and you could switch back and forth to an actual ship, where sailors were hungry, had scurvy, etc.

Mainstream fiction. A local domestic arts teacher in an upper-class school wants to teach kids how to grow their own food. She is opposed by the kinds of parents who don’t want their children’s hands ever dirty, who expect their kids to always have maids, cooks, chefs, and to be eating out at $400 restaurants anyway. But she has good reasons to want to teach this to kids. The principal is caught between. But she’s a tough cookie, and she fights them, winning over a few other teachers, a few parents, and a number of students.

Historical YA. The garden in the orphanage. There’s a mean cook and a nice teacher, who battle over how kids will be treated as workers in the garden. From the point of view of a 15 year old child, who has friends, enemies, encounters lazy kids, a cruel boss in the cook. He’s just trying to survive until he can leave the orphanage, and find a little happiness along the way.

Mainstream. A sculptor wants his/her art to be ephemeral. Ergo vegetables. The antagonist is the local art critic who thinks they are ridiculous (so do I so far, but I’ll work on it! Lol) They battle over this.

1000 story ideas: session 1, day 1

One hour of work. I did not move from my computer, just glanced around. (A little worried about what you'll think of my decor, but, lol, here we go)  51 of 1000



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The communal family grocery list begins to display increasingly bizarre, and then threatening messages among the “milk” and “strawberry jam.” Could go horror...

...or psych. thriller with this grocery list tale.

Upon searching the house after the funeral, relatives find evidence of crimes hidden in bespoke furniture designed to hide things: chairs whose seats lift to reveal a recess, sofas with hollow arms, etc. They argue over whether to notify the police or not.

Opening scene: a man sees his only daughter hit by a car and killed. Then a descent into divorce, alcoholism, despair. The last 2/3 of the book is his recovery journey.

Haunted house. None of the lights will turn off. Then none of the appliances. Who/what is haunting, and can the exorcist get rid of them? Romance B story

Haunted house: pockets of cold despite the hot climate. Two timeline story, going back to a polar explorer ancestor. Of course there’s some critical parallel between the current time house inhabitant and the previous inhabitant that solves the current person’s problem of (choose one: inexplicably silent child, missing spouse, undiagnosable disease)

The half-empty bottle of wine on the counter in a domestic drama short story, with a couple arguing, seems both a metaphor and a literal object of contention. It ends up being a Chekov’s gun.

The strange taste in the water pipes ends up coming from a rotting human body. The person who complained about the taste ends up being the murderer, who has forgotten committing the crime, and this baffles police for a long time. Clue-clue-red herring-reveal.

Digging a new garden plot for the spring, in New Mexico, a human skeleton is found. There is a wedding ring with Cyrillic lettering, the date 1937, and an investigation leads to a buried secret about The Trinity Project and russian spies. (the digging up the corpse is only a framing device for the historical mystery/spy story/with integrated romance.)

Same story as above, but the romance is gay, leading to a rather different story of science, spies, and forbidden love in 1944.

A gold prospector (in 2022) feuds with a neighboring prospector until they escalate into violence. Crime.

A gold prospector (in 2022) feuds with a neighboring prospector until the point they no longer notice when a seam of gold appears or both properties and someone else claim jumps them. Lit fic with irony.

A gold prospector (in 2022) feuds with a neighboring prospector until they fall in love. Romance.

A gold prospector (in 2022) feuds with a neighboring prospector until all other local prospectors decide to gather resources to buy the feuders out and make an educational center on mining for their rural area. A MG story with some subtle life lessons of organizing, community, and making lemonade out of lemons.

A mysterious skin ailment becomes stranger and stranger until its sufferer is being covered by a thick carapace of chitin.

In story 1 of “skin disease,” it’s a horror story. They’re becoming a monster.

In story 1a, they’re a misunderstood monster, a nice monster.

In story 1a (1), that’s a romance. Beauty and the beast.

In story 1a (2), it’s a tragedy that ends with monster killing itself

In story 2 of “skin disease,” it’s SF, and this is some kind of alien virus preparing humans for the arrival of caparce-y aliens who are going to

2a: communicate useful stuff to us which of course we’ll never listen to because paranoia, military, blahblah or

2b: Mars wants women + triffids. They’re manipulating our DNA to plant their insectoid eggs into us and so that we can complete the life cycle.

The basket weaver’s apprentice. A MG tale of being taken from a family young in a sort of cultural exchange deal, learning a craft, being a learner, slowly building a skill, meeting new people and expanding one’s understanding of the world… real life in a village some 2500 years ago.

The haunted saw. A two-man saw has, over many generations, killed its owners by smashing them with trees. When Grant inherits it from the abandoned farm of his long-missing grandfather (discovered mid-story as a skeleton in the woods, and merely displays it as art, it does its damnedest to kill him nevertheless, starting with falling off the wall.

Two scientists arguing over the cause of a major extinction event escalate from arguing in papers to in person to increasing acts of sabotage, starting rumors, seducing spouses, and eventually violence.

Guitar stories 1. A strict father and teen son argue about guitar practice and yet, through music, for the first time since the kid was six or seven, find an emotional connect through the music.

Guitar stories 2. One of those stories that follows the object, a 1910 era parlor guitar, along through several owners each of whom has a problem, dilemma, crime, grief, or something that the guitar witnesses. Each story is 3 pages or so.

Guitar stories 3. A luthier in a magical faux-medieval world is secretly a dark wizard. And his instruments are designed to make their owners do wicked things…

Guitar stories 4. A guitarist on a generational spaceship, the only one left alive while others are in stasis, sings to the sleeping people and makes up songs about them. As he goes increasingly nuts from isolation, his songs get odder and what he makes up more dramatic, dark, bizarre.

Guitar stories 4a. And when they wake, the songs have come true. He has changed their memories and psychology with those strange songs. (go as Lovecraftian as you want with this)

Guitar stories 5. A rock musician has an encounter with a groupie...who becomes a stalker...who becomes a killer of everything he loves

Guitar stories 6. Rock musician finds true love with groupie: a steamy romance with HEA and wish-fulfillment for female reader.

Guitar stories 6a. Gender switch #6. She’s the star and guitarist; he’s the groupie. Still romance, still HEA.

Guitar stories 7. A rock musician is a sexual predator and a prosecutor is determined to build a case that gets the guy convicted and in jail.

Guitar stories 8. That prosecutor, having failed three times at building a case against famous musician/pedophile, breaks and becomes a criminal himself, wreaking havoc in the bad guy’s life, but becoming a bad guy in turn, losing spouse, family, everything in his desire for revenge.

Guitar stories 9. A session musician whose licks are famous but attributed to famous musician instead seeks recognition, but famous musician thwarts him at every turn.

Guitar stories 9a. A session musician puts up with a raging, egotistical, and not very talented headliner singer, while exacting revenge in some clever way I haven’t figured out yet but I will. ;)

Guitar stories 9b. A female session musician in the 1960s and her affairs and problems with sexism and secretly building money to buy out the studio from under the not-very-prudent and drug-addicted current owner. (Nod to Carol Kaye here!)

Guitar stories 9c. The wild antics of a group of session musicians: creativity, laughter, sex, for six golden years. Then the world of their kind of music shifts to something that doesn’t include them, and it all falls apart, as life will. (Nod to The Wrecking Crew.) Comedic, then bittersweet, mainstream novel.

Guitar stories 9a (1). Session musician puts up with raging, egotistical headerliner but is willing to because of a quiet and dedicated love. Unrequited love story where you could make us sympathize with the long-suffering musician or make us think s/he was kind of an idiot.

Guitar stories 9d. A session musician’s take on a famous musician’s descent into madness seen through session recordings. (Think: Brian Wilson/Syd Barrett/Robert Schumann even, if you go back a ways, though there were no ‘session recordings’ then, of course)

Guitar stories 9e. A groups of successful, respected, and functional session musicians (back to The Wrecking Crew again) fall apart when one of their members dies accidentally.

Seed pods: decorative dried seed pods, from Evil Foreign Country, distributed through craft stores and Amazon, have been bioengineered so that when they pop open/are broken, a plant disease is released, devastating the agriculture of that country. Evil Foreign Country has bioengineered their own crops so they’re the only fed civilization.

Mom can’t get her kid to quit eating glue. Kid steals it, does anything to get it. Mom can’t figure it out, doctors can’t, the relationship deteriorates.

Mom can’t get her kid to quit eating glue, etc, but after a phase of conflict, gives up and it ends up the glue does kid no harm anyway. Happy ending.

Hoarder story: person who watches too many home d├ęcor TV shows/reads magazines is a hoarder of stuff like placemats, napkins, napkin rings, serving dishes. She (probably, sorry to be sexist!) is such a hoarder her family can’t find forks and knives or necessary items, for all the kitchen space is taken up with decorative items.

Hoarder story ending 1A) she needs serious help and they talk her into getting it

Hoarder story ending 1B) it’s all a comedy and they learn to live with and love crazy Mom

Hoarder story ending 1C) it was all a ruse to get her family to move out. She succeeds!

The haunted ceiling fan. This is going to get bloody.

The story the medical guy told me about the creative roleplaying lovers, she is tied up, he is in nothing but a cowboy hat, yeehaw, he jumps onto bed and the ceiling fan smacks him on the head, knocks him out, he’s bleeding profusely because scalp wounds do, and she’s tied up and has to figure out how to call 911. (Sorry, real couple this happened to, but it’s pretty funny to the rest of us. And he was fine after a couple of stitches, so don't worry!)

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So now I know. 50 ideas is possible in one good hour.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

1000 story ideas in a week?

I once claimed online to other writers that I could come up with 1000 ideas for stories or novels in a week.


I know, pretty big brag, right? But ideas are the easy part. And it doesn't take me much to get ideas. Chance remarks, a headline, a photograph, a sound, a memory, a general topic that I can brainstorm from and get 20 or 30 connected ideas, jumping off that central concept (a mind map, basically, for those who know the term).

So tomorrow, I'll spend a day writing ideas at that rate. (edit--I was going to do it for a week, but I'll just get bored in a week, I can see after one day. One day should be proof of concept.) Will they be brilliant? No. Quality comes in the execution, not in the idea. Will they be a complete plot? No. I'm talking only about ideas, kernels, enough to get me started outlining and writing. A logline or an elevator pitch in length. Not a two-page outline.

Will I post every thought that crosses my mind? No. If I get a really appealing idea that I may want to write, I may put it in my "ideas" folder (which is stuffed, and which I'm unlikely to get to any time soon) and not post it here. I'll count how many I do this with (it'll be fewer than 10, I imagine).

Do I care if you "steal my ideas?" and write your own story? Not one little bit. Ideas, as I say, are the easy part. Have at it. If I came up with "a family loses a child and is torn apart by it," you and I would write two vastly different stories from the prompts. So you see how "stealing ideas" isn't a big deal.

Do I care if you steal this list and publish it as a book of prompts and make money from it? Yes, I do care about that. It's for free to everyone, should anyone notice and want to spin off one of my idea kernels.

Let's see how close I can come to that rate. 142 ideas per day.