Folktales (or, fairy tales) are a convenient source of inspiration. Adaptations of the Grimm Brothers’ tales are especially good at inspiring new stories. Whenever I read one to my daughter, I think of ways to absorb familiar elements into retellings.
Most of the time, I jot down my ideas in a few lines for for later. One of these stories poured out into an eight-page outline that could result in a 30,000- to 45,000-word story. This novel (or novella) will feature iconic characters from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and the friendlier “Snow-White and Rose-Red” within a fantasy world based loosely on Germany in the Twelfth Century.
On a recent Out of My Mind post, Linda Cassidy Lewis shares responses to three photographic prompts for fiction. I enjoy prompts, not because they spur me to writing a new story (they rarely do) but for the quick release of creativity. Prompt responses are literary doodles.
Below are my doodles inspired by the same photos on Linda’s post. The challenge was to create three story ideas for each of the three photos. Stopping at three was difficult but a good idea to save time.
After I typed my nine responses, I added notes(incolor) on how to convert simple concepts to story ideas. That step is what transforms fun into writing practice for me.
1. Energy creature in formation. Where’s the conflict? A scientist studies the creature while a former friend and coworker protests the creature’s confinement to a human lab.
2. Dancing angel. (Do you see the halo, head, arms, and gown?) Again, where’s the conflict? A young girl who sees tiny angels (protective spirits or God’s Whisperers) learns that insisting what she sees is real may lead to isolation.
3. Touch the bubble, flip inside out, and transport to another world. Bubbles are harder to find in that world, but you’ll find one eventually.
1. Hey, twins. Do you think that house behind you will talk to me today?
2. She dreaded the path home and wanted only to sit on their bench until [the neighbor she adored] would come out and tell her that no other girl could take her place in his life. Young-adult romance.
3. Honeysuckle sweetened the air but couldn’t compare to the everyday seasonings of salty sand, barren wood, and exposed sea kelp. He breathed deeply to fill every pore with the essence of home. Story conflict? The main character is an old man expected to move away from his long-time beach home to live with his granddaughter.
These could be passages from workplace fiction.
1. “She had hair out to here. Wouldn’t you assume a lawyer would know how to groom herself before a hearing? Or did she just feel like reverting back to the 80’s? I felt like I was represented by Bobette the Clown.”
2. Her face couldn’t show more displeasure without breaking off to drag itself on the floor, yet he couldn’t help but push the issue. “I don’t know, maybe you couldn’t think through the sparkles. Maybe the blood you’ve been sucking from every one of our teammates turned bad and clotted in the decision-making parts of your brain. But if you don’t start acting like a mature member of group, I’ll make sure you’ll be living at a work center to find a new job that pays more than minimum wage.”
3. She wouldn’t lose this time. Even her mirror at home wanted to chuckle at the grumpy face she’d practiced to perfection. On this day, Earl would crack first.