150 Free Story Ideas For You To Use However You Like!

July 17th, 2014 by

Every April for 5 years, I have run a monthly series: A Story Idea Each Day for a Month. Over the course of 12 months, I’ll flag 30 story ideas I find in my daily trek through all of my news sources and write posts about them. And here’s the thing: I give them away for free. If you like any of the ideas, they are yours to use however you like.

Why on Earth do I do this? Beyond the considerable possibility I’m just a bit nutty — Giving away free ideas?!?! — I run the series every year to drive home this point:

YOU NEED TO WRITE SCRIPTS WITH THE STRONGEST STORY IDEAS POSSIBLE!!!

You can write a spec screenplay that is professional in every way, yet if the story concept is a mediocre or even average one, chances are extremely slim that script will sell.

You have to look everyday and everywhere for the very best story ideas.

As it turns out, one of my story ideas is being turned into a movie. You can read about that here. So I’ve decided to aggregate all of the links for all of the story ideas into this one post: 150 total, less 1 that is already in pre-production.

I already nailed one movie. Who knows what might be lurking in the other posts.

2010

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2011

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2012

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2013

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2014

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Day 30

There you have it. Five years worth of story ideas, 150 in all. Well, 149 because one of them is being made into a movie.

Click through. If you like an idea, it’s yours. Free of charge.

And I’ve already got 20 story ideas for April 2015.

Takeaway: Always be looking for new, great story ideas. Critical to the success of your spec script.

A Story Idea Each Day for a Month: Success!

July 16th, 2014 by

Every April for 5 years, I have run a monthly series: A Story Idea Each Day for a Month. Over the course of 12 months, I’ll flag 30 story ideas I find in my daily trek through all of my news sources and write posts about them. And here’s the thing: I give them away for free. If you like any of the ideas, they are yours to use however you like.

Why on Earth do I do this? Beyond the considerable possibility I’m just a bit nutty — Giving away free ideas?!?! — I run the series every year to drive home this point:

YOU NEED TO WRITE SCRIPTS WITH THE STRONGEST STORY IDEAS POSSIBLE!!!

You can write a spec screenplay that is professional in every way, yet if the story concept is a mediocre or even average one, chances are extremely slim that script will sell.

You have to look everyday and everywhere for the very best story ideas.

So imagine my interest when I read this in Deadline the other day:

Dante Harper has been set by Fox 2000 to rewrite The Secret Of The Temple, based on the Jake Halpern New Yorker magazine article published two years ago. The article is about a fight over treasure vaults worth $20 billion, hidden beneath a temple in the jungle of India, and supposedly cursed, with a bunch of thieves, radicals and the royal family that guards the temple all trying to get at the loot. The facts will ground a heist adventure movie with an international cast. David Heyman’s Heyday is producing.

Now compare to this Story Idea Each Day for a Month post from April 7, 2012:

Today’s story idea: Beneath a Temple in Southern India, a Treasure Trove of Staggering Riches.

MUMBAI, India — A court-ordered search of vaults beneath a south Indian temple has unearthed gold, jewels and statues worth an estimated $22 billion, government officials said Monday.

The treasure trove, at the 16th century Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, is widely believed to be the largest find of its kind in India, catching officials in the state of Kerala by surprise and forcing the government to send two dozen police officers to the previously unguarded shrine for round-the-clock security.

The discovery has also revived questions about who should manage the wealth, much of which is believed to have been deposited at the temple by the royal family of the princely state of Travancore, which acceded to India when the country became independent in 1947. Some of the vaults under the temple have not been opened for nearly 150 years, temple officials have said.

Temples in India often have rich endowments, mainly from donations of gold and cash by pilgrims and wealthy patrons, but the wealth discovered at Padmanabhaswamy dwarfs the known assets of every other Indian temple. Such assets are typically meant to be used by administrators to operate temples and provide services to the poor, but they have often become the subject of heated disputes and controversies.

Okay, so we’ve discussed the BRIC phenomenon: Brazil, Russia, India, China. Those are four huge growth areas at which Hollywood is actively aiming business. Here you have a story set in India. An enormous treasure trove: $22B.

Sounds like the basis of a heist movie to me.

I can hear a producer pitching it now: “It’s ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ meets ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’”

Pull together a multinational theft squad a la the team from Inception, enter the amazing world of India, write some choice roles for big name Bollywood actors, and you’ve got yourself the basis of a huge hit movie.

Evidently Hollywood agrees. And guess what? My post predates the New Yorker article by 23 days!

So here’s what I’m going to do: Tomorrow I will post links to all 150 news items featured in the Story Idea Each Day for a Month series from 2010-2014. There are 149 of them — less “The Secret of the Temple” — available for your perusal and use.

And note this: I’ve already aggregated 20 news items for the 2015 series. Thus the nuttiness will continue!

Remember: Look for the very best story ideas possible. If you don’t know how to generate story ideas or how to determine if they are commercially viable, consider taking my 1-week online class which starts Monday, July 21: Core II: Concept.

For the rest of the Deadline article, go here.

For my April 7, 2012 blog post, go here.

News sources for researching story ideas

May 6th, 2014 by

Last week, I posted this: Why I gave away 30 story ideas in 30 days. I asked readers what news sources they used to surface possible story ideas. Here are some of them:

Brain Pickings

Futility Closet

Next Draft

Now I know

Then Frankie Hollywood weighed in with this:

Another great source, “Weird News.” Practically every major network has a section devoted to it:
ABC http://abcnews.go.com/Weird/
CBS http://www.cbsnews.com/strange/
NBC http://www.nbcnews.com/news/weird-news
Reuters http://www.reuters.com/news/oddlyEnough
Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/weird-news/
Live Science has got some truly thought provoking strangeness, http://www.livescience.com/strange-news/
Even National Geographic is getting in on it, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/archives/weird/
Plus, there’s dozens (if not hundreds) of Twitter feeds you can follow, https://twitter.com/weirdnews

Any other suggestions, please hit Reply and post in comments.

Why I gave away 30 story ideas in 30 days

May 1st, 2014 by

In April when I ran the “A Story Idea Each Day for a Month” [A.S.I.E.D.F.A.M] series, several GITS readers emailed me wondering if I’d lost my mind.

Why give away story ideas?

I don’t think I’ve gone insane, although the amount of time I spend working on this blog does give me pause from time to time…

But as long as some have raised the question of my mental sagacity, allow me to present forthwith my rationale for what I did on this blog each day last month at 12PM ET / 9AM PT.

The inspiration for the series came from interacting with some aspiring screenwriters recently whose inventory of story ideas was… well… ‘scant’ would be a pretty generous description. There’s a problem noodling around with your creativity if you only have one or two story ideas available. First, you’ll be strongly inclined to think that your couple of ideas are great ones — but in all honesty, how much of your attachment to the idea/s is about its/their inherent quality as the core of a screenplay versus running with it because you don’t have any other (read: better) ideas?

Second, and I’ve mentioned this before, but could not for the life of me find the GITS post: When you sell your spec script, and your reps send you around Hwood to meet producers and studio execs, the first words out of their mouths will be, “Great script! Loved it!” and their second words will be, “What else ya’ got?” If you don’t have anything or even worse, pitch them a marginal story idea — because that’s all you’ve got — those will likely be extremely short meetings.

Okay, but still why would that precipitate me posting story ideas each day for a month? Because I believe the best way to come up with a great story idea is to generate lots and lots of story concepts – good, bad, or awful.

The not so subtle subtext of the A.S.I.E.D.F.A.M series is this: That is how professional screenwriters work, constantly churning up ideas, separating the ‘wheat from the chaff.’ A part of their brain is always filtering what they experience in their lives as possible story material.

Now it’s true that many screenwriters never generate original story concepts, rather they work on adaptations, rewrites, sequels, and so on. But most of the screenwriters I know have written spec scripts and/or worked up original pitches. And you can be sure that those writers do spend time generating story ideas.

So yes, in large part the “A Story Idea Each Day for a Month” series was a pedagogical one, a blatant attempt to train you to have a mindset where – every day – at least part of your conscious self is looking at the ‘stuff’ that comes your way in your daily life: the news, conversations you overhear, tales told to you by friends and family members, and so on as possible movie story ideas.

Here’s another point: successful screenwriters often become producers. Just last week, Variety announced this:

Continuing a trend that vests screenwriters with greater power, DreamWorks Studios has inked a first-look, two-year producing deal with Steve Zaillian and his Film Rites shingle.

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Garrett Basch will head development for Film Rites, a writer-driven company that produces original films from established and emerging talent.

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Like Zaillian, Kurtzman and Orci are screenwriters who have moved into the role of producers, much like showrunners in television. Two weeks ago, Fox inked a producing deal with scribe Robert Kinberg. Other scribes with producing deals are Akiva Goldsman at Warners and J.J. Abrams at Paramount.

Hungry for fresh material, studios say these deals give them direct access to original ideas. For their part, scribes say being a producer allows them to farm out ideas they might not want to write.

Notice the presence of the word “ideas” twice in that last paragraph. Studios like to link deals with screenwriters to have access to their “original ideas.” Writers move into producing in order to put more projects into play, i.e., “farm out ideas they might not want to write.”

Yet another reason to turn yourself into a story idea generating machine.

Okay, fine, I’m at heart a teacher, so I did the A.S.I.E.D.F.A.M month-long thing as an educational exercise. But that still doesn’t answer why I simply gave away all those ideas.

Awright, you got me. I confess. While some of the ideas were good, many of them were just so-so. At least in my eyes. Your eyes may see something different. I figured, “If I can’t see greatness there, why not pass the ideas along to someone else, see what they come up with.”

Also apart from this idea — Ivan Hirst, British Officer Who Revived VW — which I have been tempted to write, I didn’t really resonate emotionally with any of the other concepts. And that’s another thing I’ve posted before: One of the critical qualities a story idea should have in order for a writer to commit to writing it is if they are emotionally invested in it. The fact I didn’t freed me up to give away those 30 ideas.

Several people emailed me with this basic point: “But won’t you be crushed when somebody sells a spec script based on one of these ideas.” On the contrary, I’ll be elated. I’m almost always happy when a screenwriter sells something — there are a few circumstances when I’m not, the most prominent being when I see they’ve sold something very much like what I have been working on. Besides I’m sure writers who find success based on an idea posted here will be emailing me their thanks along with a coupon good for a Grand Slam Breakfast at Denny’s.

So ya’ see, I got that working for me!

“Scott,” I hear you saying, “You’re such a damn good guy to do this… but I feel sorta bad that you’re not… you know… getting anything out of the ‘Story Idea Each Day for a Month’ thingee.”

Au contraire!

In the process of scanning newspapers, online journals, and other sources for the A.S.I.E.D.F.A.M series, I sourced three killer story concepts. And they’re mine, all mine.

[Insert maniacal ‘bwahahahahah’ here].

Seriously two fantastic ideas perfect for spec scripts — one a comedy, one a thriller — then a third story franchise — yes, I said “franchise” — that’s going to take some time to research, but is an awesome story world.

See, everybody wins!

Now two last things. First, I’ve had a few people ask if I could do the story idea thing every day on GITS. And my answer is a polite “no.” What’s that old observation: “If you give a person a fish, they can eat for a day. But if you teach them to fish, they can eat for a lifetime.” Substitute “story idea” for “fish,” and I think that makes sense per what I am trying to do. As noted above, the A.S.I.E.D.F.A.M series is an educational exercise. Hopefully you’ve learned a little bit about developing ‘eyes’ that can ‘see’ story ideas — because they’re out there everywhere!

That said, I have no objections to doing a month-long series again next April. That is, if I haven’t run out of words, inspiration, and time to keep doing this blog.

The second thing is this: I focused the S.I.E.D.F.A.M. series only on story ideas that came from the news. But that is hardly the only source of story ideas.

So I’d like to ask GITS readers: What other sources do you use for finding or generating story ideas? You don’t have to give away any specifics about your sources, just something generic will do. Who knows? Perhaps a little insight for the masses with send some good karma your way.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_SSk3ffQgmMk/SUxm0Xp8uxI/AAAAAAAAA68/sMSo2BWZU70/s400/Karma-red.jpg

Did you get anything out of the “A Story Idea Each Day for a Month” series? Would you like to see it again next year on GITS?

[Originally posted May 3, 2010]

A Story Idea Each Day for a Month — Day 30

April 30th, 2014 by

This is the fifth year in a row I’ve run this series in April.

Today’s story: Mystery structure beneath Sea of Galilee stumps archeologists.

TIBERIAS, Israel (AP) — The massive circular structure appears to be an archaeologists dream: a recently discovered antiquity that could reveal secrets of ancient life in the Middle East and is just waiting to be excavated.

It’s thousands of years old — a conical, manmade behemoth weighing hundreds of tons, practically begging to be explored.

The problem is — it’s at the bottom of the biblical Sea of Galilee. For now, at least, Israeli researchers are left stranded on dry land, wondering what finds lurk below.

The monumental structure, made of boulders and stones with a diameter of 70 meters (230 feet), emerged from a routine sonar scan in 2003.

“It’s very enigmatic, it’s very interesting, but the bottom line is we don’t know when it’s from, we don’t know what it’s connected to, we don’t know its function,” said Dani Nadel, an archaeologist at the University of Haifa who is one of several researchers studying the discovery. “We only know it is there, it is huge and it is unusual.”

—-

The cone-shaped structure is found at a depth of between three and 12 meters (nine and 40 feet) beneath the surface, about half a kilometer (1,600 feet) from the sea’s southwestern shore. Its base is buried under sediment.

The authors conclude the structure is man-made, made of stones that originated nearby, and it weighs about 60,000 tons. The authors write it “is indicative of a complex, well-organized society, with planning skills and economic ability.”

The rest is a mystery.

Okay, let’s go out with this year’s A Story Idea Each Day for a Month series with a bang.

You’ve got this incredibly mysterious structure at the base of the Sea of Galilee.

Scientists don’t know how old it is. For our purposes, let’s just say it dates from… picking a random number here… 2014 years old.

Awright, so you see where I’m going here, right? When I hear Sea of Galilee, my many days attending Sunday School as a youth immediately have my mind make the connection with Jesus. His ministry centered around the Sea of Galilee. The Gospels report that Jesus performed miracles there including walking on the water.

Could the Sea of Galilee and the activities of Jesus focused there be tied to this structure?

What if the Star of Bethlehem which per the Gospels was associated with the birth of Jesus actually was an alien structure, plummeting through the Earth’s atmosphere from outer space?

What if at the moment of Jesus’ birth, this alien structure plunged into the Sea of Galilee?

What if at the precise instant, some sort of energy was emitted from the structure striking Jesus as he emerged from Mary’s womb?

Yes, I’m going there!

What if Jesus’ powers were alien in origin?

It’s The Last Temptation of Christ meets E.T. the Extraterrestrial, an alternate history of Jesus’ life as he learns about his powers. And the Father he speaks to when he prays? Those are alien entities guiding him in his activities. And his resurrection? Empowered by the aliens. His ascension into Heaven? Going to be with his alien benefactors.

Jesus spent most of his time around the Sea of Galilee because that structure below the water’s surface is the source of his miraculous energy.

The parables, Sermon on the Mount, and much of his wisdom would derive from the knowledge Jesus gathered from communing telepathically with the aliens. Given my background in theological studies, how much fun would it be to go through the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life as well as Gnostic texts, and see which of his words could make sense, relating them to his association with aliens?

And then the kicker: What if this is something the aliens have been doing throughout the universe, sending this mysterious structure — like the Monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey — to create ‘saviors’ from one planet to the next?

There you go, a big, super controversial concept. My thirtieth story idea for the month. And it’s yours. Free!

Each day this month, I have invited you to join me in comments to do some brainstorming. Gender bend, genre bend, what if. Take each day’s story idea and see what it can become when we play around with it. These are all valuable skills for a writer to develop.

See you in comments (hit Reply to join the conversation). Let me know if you’ve enjoyed this series. Should I do it again next year?

Tomorrow a new series: Classic 90s movies.

A Story Idea Each Day for a Month — Day 29

April 29th, 2014 by

This is the fifth year in a row I’ve run this series in April.

Today’s story: The Silent Twins.

The Story: June and Jennifer Gibbons were British twin girls whose bond became something ostracizing and dangerous as it drew them together, away from the world, and into trouble. As children, they spoke their own language, and rarely spoke to anyone else. But their love for each other sometimes curdled, resulting in one trying to murder the other and vice versa. As they got older, they went on a crime spree of theft and arson that got them branded as psychopaths. They were committed to Broadmoor Hospital for the criminally insane when they were just 14 years old. Later, they did finally begin to reach out to someone, journalist Marjorie Wallace. To her, they showed a remarkable self-awareness, admitting they could never be individuals as long as the other lived. Jennifer told Wallace, “I’m going to die. We’ve decided.” And as they were being transferred to a lower security facility that would give them more personal freedom, Jennifer did just that. Though she is said to have died of a heart condition, it’s a bizarre coincidence to say the least.

The Pitch: The Silent Twins have gotten a made for TV movie in the UK (trailer below), but their story is so unusual that it deserves something a bit flashier. It could be a deeply moody film that speaks to the pain of creating an identity apart from family. As June lives (free and seemingly mentally stable), it’d probably be best to center a film on her, and her struggle to love her sister while attempting to be separate from her. Imagine The Brothers Bloom, but darker. This is the kind of story I’d love to see We Need to Talk About Kevin director Lynne Ramsay handle. Can someone get on that please?

So look at this: The folks at Cinema Blend did their own version of A Story Idea Each Day for a Month… just not the whole… you know… each day… and for a month thing. But they did do this: 10 Terrifying True Stories That Deserve Horror Movie Adaptations, including one the strange case of Elisa Lam which did get set up earlier this year as a big spec script sale: The Bringing.

So what about the Silent Twins? We’ve already had the 1988 David Cronenberg movie Dead Ringers:

Twin gynecologists take full advantage of the fact that nobody can tell them apart, until their relationship begins to deteriorate over a woman.

I even found this article: The Top Ten (or is it Twenty…) Evil Twins in Movies. So there is a tradition, even if not quite qualifying as a subgenre.

What is the appeal about evil twins? Is it the ability for one to play the role of the other? Is it their special bond and line of communication which they can use for illicit ends?

More importantly, what would you do with the Silent Twins?

There you go: My twenty ninth story idea for the month. And it’s yours. Free!

Each day this month, I invite you to join me in comments to do some brainstorming. Gender bend, genre bend, what if. Take each day’s story idea and see what it can become when we play around with it. These are all valuable skills for a writer to develop.

See you in comments (hit Reply to join the conversation). And come back tomorrow for our very last Story Idea Each Day For A Month.

A Story Idea Each Day for a Month — Day 28

April 28th, 2014 by

This is the fifth year in a row I’ve run this series in April.

Today’s story: The matchmaker for the mentally ill.

It’s been 10 years since James Leftwich first created No Longer Lonely, a dating website exclusively for people with mental illnesses. Leftwich spoke with me about the challenges of running the site and about why he believes forming loving relationships should be recommended more frequently than pills.

Why did you create No Longer Lonely?

It was one of those things where I looked for something and it didn’t exist. I thought, this is a really logical thing. This should exist. People with mental illness tend to band together. It’s kind of an unsympathetic world.

How did No Longer Lonely start?

Around 2004 it was underway but it wasn’t as big as it is now. A dating site is something that has a critical mass where it’s not very effective until you get a certain amount of people. I’m still facing that challenge but it’s a big world.

No Longer Lonely has chat rooms, forums, and places for people to post their art. Why did you design it like that?

I did model it after the major dating sites, but I added certain categories too, like housing options for Section 8 or ‘I live with my parents’ or ‘I live in a halfway house.’ I thought it was important to have a category for ‘Do you own your own transportation?’ because that can be a big deal among people that are mentally ill. Most of them don’t have their own car or anything like that so that makes a difference. The artwork—that’s an area that didn’t take off as much as I thought it would. There are a lot of talented people with mental illness that have great creative potential and I thought that would be an important way to let people connect and share on that level.

How many users does No Longer Lonely have?

I have over 30,000 users. A sizeable percentage of those probably haven’t been on the site for a while. I do occasional purges to get rid of older profiles. But who knows? That person might get a message and come back. The big stat is the amount of marriages that I’ve had with the site. And these are only the ones that I’ve been told of, but there’s been more than 30.

—-

What are some of the mental illnesses that your users have?

I didn’t create the categories, it’s just what the major ones are: schizophrenia, schizoaffective, but I may have to remove that as an option. Bipolar, depression, anxiety. Another one that’s gone is Asperger’s. Asperger’s doesn’t exist anymore, now it’s an autism spectrum disorder. There really aren’t that many categories of mental illness. But I don’t think people identify themselves that much as, ‘I am that or this.’ I am somebody who struggles with [a psychiatric] diagnosis and I take medicine for it.

As recently as 1989, it was possible to come out with a straight-out comedy like The Dream Team which had this premise: “On the way to a baseball game, sanitarium patients get stranded in New York City after their chaperone is hospitalized and they’re being pursued by criminals.”

Nowadays, I doubt that would fly. But we have at least two other movie associations which do suggest a pathway in terms of genre and tone: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and As Good As It Gets, the former a drama with some moments of humor, the latter more of a drama-comedy.

Given the frame of a drama or drama-comedy, three things interest me about this idea. First, the blurring of the line between being mentally ill and mentally normal, a dynamic that can be explored with certain characters. Second, the people involved with the dating service, both the clients and the operators. Three, exploring the stigmas attached to mental illness and a couple (or couples) who struggle to nurture a romance amidst a society which sees them in a negative or fearful light.

The Spectacular Now provides a helpful touchstone re tone, dealing with alcoholism in a compelling, but also at times humorous way, at its center a burgeoning love story between two significantly different personality types.

I’ve got nothing more than this and a vision of a young couple on a park bench with the Fox Searchlight logo on the corner of the poster.

There you go: My twenty eighth story idea for the month. And it’s yours. Free!

What would you do with it?

Each day this month, I invite you to join me in comments to do some brainstorming. Gender bend, genre bend, what if. Take each day’s story idea and see what it can become when we play around with it. These are all valuable skills for a writer to develop.

See you in comments (hit Reply to join the conversation). And come back tomorrow for another Story Idea Each Day For A Month.

A Story Idea Each Day for a Month — Day 27

April 27th, 2014 by

This is the fifth year in a row I’ve run this series in April.

Today’s story: Sperm bank for Nobel Prize winners.

The Repository for Germinal Choice, better known as the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank, was founded in 1980 by multimillionaire Robert Graham, inventor of shatterproof eyeglass lenses. His goal was to combine the sperm and eggs of superior men and women—ideally Nobel laureates—to produce superior babies. If all this sounds an awful lot like eugenics, well, it was.

—-

It brought more than 200 babies into this world, and many had higher-than-average IQs. In the end, however, its biggest legacy was that it changed how sperm banks work by offering detailed profiles of the donors. Now it’s commonplace for women to choose the looks, professions, and interests of the men whose sperm they wish to use.

The Vince Vaughan comedy Delivery Man came out after I stumbled across this news item. Despite mediocre reviews, the movie ended up making $51M at the box office, not too bad for a movie budgeted at $26M, assuming all the ancillary revenues hit their targets.

Still it wasn’t a huge hit. If it were, then the idea of babies created through the insemination of Nobel Prize-winning sperm might be right in the wheelhouse for buyers. However the fact Delivery Man came out in 2013 combined with its so-so B.O. performance steers me away from my original instincts to brainstorm a comedy and go more of a sci-fi thriller take.

Leland Granger was a Nobel Prize winning scientist. Not once. Not twice. But three times. Felled too young by a sudden fatal disease, he left behind a legacy: Several vials of his sperm with instructions on how to use it in inseminating a genius female to produce a baby with strong genetic capabilities, hopefully reflecting Granger’s own intelligence. In addition, a sum of several million dollars and a bevy of caretakers, educators and trainers have been gathered to help raise the child to maximize his or her intellectual development.

And that happened with the birth of Adrianna. Now 21, she has already finished two doctorates and spends most of her days and nights, reading and doing research in the secret lab built for her by Granger’s funds. The dream: She can come up with solutions to many of the ills that face humankind including severe effects of climate change which are buffeting the Earth in 2036.

Unknown to anyone upon Granger’s death, a janitor with whom Granger had had an affair managed to secure one vial of his sperm. She inseminated herself and became pregnant. Eventually she gave birth to a son: Bernard, given Granger’s middle name by the mother. Unfortunately the mother died in childbirth and Bernard wound his way through multiple foster homes. The result: He is a con artist with little in the way of moral values, using his innate intelligence and street smarts to get by… but just barely one step ahead of thugs, marks and the law.

Enter some unknown global entity, I’m not sure what. They somehow discover Granger has these two offspring. And for some reason, also undetermined, their goal is kidnap the pair. I suspect it might have something to do with some awful brain tests / research they are doing for a malevolent end wrapped up in some philosophical nonsense to give them some justification for their actions.

Adrianna and Bernard get captured, which means they meet for the first time. Brother and sister? Shock. Disbelief. Hostility. Two radically divergent personalities with radically different life-experiences. But once the threat to their physical well-being becomes clear along with the entity’s ulterior motives, the pair manages to escape and off they go.

They don’t have a lot going for them, but they do have some assets. First, Adrianna has her support group and access to finances until, of course, the entity shuts that down. Second, Bernard has his own group of helpers, albeit petty criminals with some hardcore types thrown in for good measure.

But the surprising thing is this: Due to their shared DNA and brain chemistry, they demonstrate a kind of intuition about what each other is thinking. In fact, as they race along, chased by the Bad Guys, their ability to communicate almost as if through thought waves becomes more pronounced.

On the run. Trying to find out what it is the entity wants with them. Planes, trains, automobile chases. Since it’s 20 years in the future, throw in some cool ass drone skip tracers. Action! Thrills! Sci-Fi!

Okay, that’s all I’ve got. Probably needs another element or two to give it more edge and take it out of high concept-y-ville, but if you can see something there, go for it.

There you go: My twenty seventh story idea for the month. And it’s yours. Free!

What would you do with it?

Each day this month, I invite you to join me in comments to do some brainstorming. Gender bend, genre bend, what if. Take each day’s story idea and see what it can become when we play around with it. These are all valuable skills for a writer to develop.

See you in comments (hit Reply to join the conversation). And come back tomorrow for another Story Idea Each Day For A Month.

A Story Idea Each Day for a Month — Day 26

April 26th, 2014 by

This is the fifth year in a row I’ve run this series in April.

Today’s story: Mary Fairfax Somerville: The Woman Who Created “Science”.

Not only did Scottish mathematician, science writer, and polymath Mary Fairfax Somerville (December 26, 1780—November 28, 1872) defy the era’s deep-seated bias against women in science, she was the very reason the word “scientist” was coined: When reviewing her seminal second book, On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences, which Somerville wrote at the age of 54, English polymath and Trinity College master William Whewell was so impressed that he thought it rendered the term “men of science” obsolete and warranted a new, more inclusive descriptor to honor Somerville’s contribution to the field.

Reconstructionist Maria Mitchell, herself a pioneer who paved the way for women in science, captured Somerville’s singular genius in a May 1860 article for The Atlantic:

To read mathematical works is an easy task; the formulae can be learned and their meaning apprehended: to read the most profound of them, with such appreciation that one stands side by side with the great minds who originated them, requires a higher order of intellect; and far-reaching indeed is that which, pondering in the study on a few phenomena known by observation, develops the theory of worlds, traces back for ages their history, and sketches the outline of their future destiny.

More from Wikipedia:

She was the daughter of Irish Vice-Admiral Sir William George Fairfax (scion of a distinguished family of Fairfaxes), and was related to several prominent Scottish houses through her mother. She was born at the manse of Jedburgh, in the Borders, the house of her mother’s sister, wife of Dr Thomas Somerville (1741–1830), author of My Own Life and Times. Her childhood home was at Burntisland, Fife. Returning from sea, her father considered the 10-year-old Mary “a savage” and sent her for a year of tuition at Musselburgh, an expensive boarding school. She returned being able to read, and able to write, albeit poorly; she could perform simple arithmetic and knew a little French.

Following this, she was informally taught elementary geography and astronomy, but found her education limited compared to what her brother might receive. To supplement this, therefore, she was taught Latin by her uncle, Dr Thomas Somerville, who described her as an eager student. Once, listening in to her brother receive tutoring in mathematics, she answered when he could not; impressed, his tutor allowed her to continue with lessons unofficially. She also studied art with Alexander Nasmyth in Edinburgh, who taught her about perspective – inspired, she managed to obtain a copy of Euclid’s Elements of Geometry, and began to teach herself from it. Meanwhile, she continued in the traditional roles of the daughter of a well-connected family, attending social events and maintaining a sweet and polite manner – she was nicknamed “the Rose of Jedburgh” among Edinburgh socialites. Around this time, however, following the death of her sister at age ten, her parents forbade Mary from further study, believing it had contributed to her sister’s death. This did not deter her from studying on her own, although she had to continue in secret.

In 1804 she married her distant cousin, the Russian Consul in London, Captain Samuel Greig, son of Admiral Samuel Greig. They had two children, one of whom, Woronzow Greig, became a barrister and scientist. They lived in London, and it was not a happy time for Somerville – although she could study more easily, her husband did not think much of women’s capacity to pursue academic interests. She returned home to Scotland upon his death in 1807.

Her inheritance from Greig gave her the freedom to pursue intellectual interests. In 1812 she married another cousin, Dr William Somerville (1771–1860), inspector of the Army Medical Board, who encouraged and greatly aided her in the study of the physical sciences. They had four children. During her marriage she made the acquaintance of the most eminent scientific men of the time, among whom her talents had attracted attention. Before she had acquired general fame, Laplace told her, “There have been only three women who have understood me. These are yourself, Mrs Somerville, Caroline Herschel and a Mrs Greig of whom I know nothing” (of course, Somerville was first and third of these three).

Imagine you have a keen mind, yet are restrained in your ability to learn. Having to teach yourself in secret. Fighting against prejudice.

There’s something about a woman amidst a sea of male scientists that strikes me as a story with potential. I’d have to do a lot of research to find some additional angles, but a woman who loses two husbands, raises four children, eventually rising to the top of her chosen field of study, and living 91 years spanning from the French Revolution beyond the American Civil War… feels like there is something there.

After all, if A Beautiful Mind could succeed, perhaps a biopic with a strong female lead.

“Who shall declare the time allotted to the human race, when the generations of the most insignificant insect also existed for unnumbered ages? Yet man is also to vanish in the ever-changing course of events. The earth is to be burnt up, and the elements are to melt with fervent heat—to be again reduced to chaos—possibly to be renovated and adorned for other races of beings. These stupendous changes may be but cycles in those great laws of the universe, where all is variable but the laws themselves and He who has ordained them.”

Mary Fairfax Somerville

There you go: My twenty sixth story idea for the month. And it’s yours. Free!

What would you do with it?

Each day this month, I invite you to join me in comments to do some brainstorming. Gender bend, genre bend, what if. Take each day’s story idea and see what it can become when we play around with it. These are all valuable skills for a writer to develop.

See you in comments (hit Reply to join the conversation). And come back tomorrow for another Story Idea Each Day For A Month.

A Story Idea Each Day for a Month — Day 25

April 25th, 2014 by

This is the fifth year in a row I’ve run this series in April.

Today’s story: Baby DJ School.

Beat-oriented Brooklyn babies ages 0-3 can learn the basics of DJing thanks to Brooklyn’s new Baby DJ School. The eight-week course will teach babies how to play records and mix beats for $200. Some Brooklynians aren’t pleased. “Brooklyn used to be cool just because. Now it’s cool because you can afford to pay $200 for your toddler to drool over vinyl,” said one resident.

Okay, this just struck me as the single dumbest idea I’d heard in a long time, so I saved it and figured when April 25, 2014 rolled around, I could come up with something to do with the concept. I mean look at this:

Okay, so what if we do this:

* Some toddler turns out to be a DJ genius and becomes a media phenomenon. It’s Scratch meets Baby Geniuses.

* A hip hop dance story… only all the characters are played by kids. It’s Step Up meets Bugsy Malone.

* A DJ who has lost his chops and fallen from the top of the game suddenly discovers he’s a father. Forced to take over parental care of his 8 year-old daughter. But what if she has the golden musical DJ touch. So he’s a front for her talent. It’s Cyrano de Bergerac meets It’s All Gone Pete Tong.

* Finally what about School of Rock for adolescent DJ wannabes?

Other than that, I got nothin’.

There you go: My twenty fifth story idea for the month. And it’s yours. Free!

What would you do with it?

Each day this month, I invite you to join me in comments to do some brainstorming. Gender bend, genre bend, what if. Take each day’s story idea and see what it can become when we play around with it. These are all valuable skills for a writer to develop.

See you in comments (hit Reply to join the conversation). And come back tomorrow for another Story Idea Each Day For A Month.