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Story ideas

Last year I read Stephen King’s Book, On Writing. It was really good, as books about writing go. One of the things that stuck with me was that there is nothing new under the sun. There are no new ideas, just new combinations of ideas. He says to take two unrelated things, and combine them in an original way.

Sometimes I try to combine news headlines for story ideas. For example, I’ve got these two intriguing news stories in my file. One is about a town that is trying to address its budgetary shortfalls by purchasing lottery tickets every week. It promises the townspeople that if it wins the lottery, it will eliminate taxes. The other story is about the history of an old suitcase in which the remains of two long-dead infants were found. The suitcase was traced back to a Scottish home care nurse in the early 1900s. It is still unknown whether the babies were hers, or whether they died of unnatural causes. The investigation continues.

Now the trick is to find a way to knit these two stories together. Got any ideas?

Here’s another news story that caught my eye. The Ontario Provincial Police pulled over a 24-year-old motorist and charged him with careless driving because he was reading a book while driving on Highway 401. I thought this was very, very interesting. But the police – and therefore the media – left out the most important detail: What was he reading? You could write a million stories about this, and they would all be different depending on the title of his book.

Nanowrimo’s going fairly well, by the way. My novel is not a novel. It’s something else entirely. I’ve written about 10,500 words now.

5 comments to Story ideas

  • Tom Sawyer

    Move the dates, and you’ll see the two dead infants were stillborn of a triplet birth, and the surviving triplet is the municipal politician spearheading the lottery-win-over-taxes movement. A grab bag of luck & fate could be wound and unravelled with this combination. While you’re at it, that motorist is actually the 56-year-old surviving triplet. Now, you tell me what he was reading.

    • Tom Sawyer

      I got it: The novel’s opening scene is the OPP stopping our careless driver/politician. And what was he reading? His late mother’s handwritten diary.

      • Tom Sawyer

        Okay, while I’m at it, our politician discovered his late mother’s diary when he was a troubled teenager, yet kept its existence secret so as to not sully his impoverished & downtrodden mother’s memory. The quick eye and thinking of the arresting OPP officer puts it all together–or perhaps doesn’t–because his father (a retired city policeman) had firsthand knowledge of the dead-infants-in-the-suitcase as a cold case. By the way, the arresting OPP officer was originally a city cop, too, and he is based on the Bank Street bully. The woman he bullied is the politician’s estranged sister. Sad story, actually. I see a lot of Zoom’s earlier life on the street as the sister. Just saying.

  • Tom, the first two are brilliant! The third one…maybe not quite. :)

    You’re good at this.

  • Love and care for your parrot who was in the backseat but didn’t make the police nor news report either?