A Story Idea Each Day for a Month: Day 30

April 30th, 2015 by

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

Today’s story: Teen saves life of woman who saved him.

Call it a simple twist of fate — times two: A teenager in western New York state has saved the life of the same woman who years ago saved his life.

Seven years ago, Kevin Stephan of Lancaster, N.Y., was a bat boy for his younger brother’s Little League baseball team. A player who was warming up accidentally hit him in the chest with a bat. Kevin’s heart stopped beating.

“All I remember is that I dropped the bat off, and all of a sudden just got hit in the chest with something, and I turned around and passed out,” Stephan said.

Fortunately, a nurse whose son played on that team was able to revive him and save his life.

“I started CPR on him and he came back,” Penny Brown said.

Stephan’s mother said he was extremely fortunate. Brown was supposed to be at work that night, but was given the day off at the last minute.

Now comes the really interesting part.

Last week that same nurse was eating at the Hillview Restaurant in Depew, N.Y., when she began to choke on her food. Witnesses say patrons were screaming for someone to help her.

“The food wasn’t going anywhere and I totally couldn’t breathe,” Penny said. “It was very frightening.”

Restaurant employees yelled for Stephan to come out and help. “They knew I was a volunteer firefighter and they called me over and I did the Heimlich, and I guess you could say I saved Mrs. Brown,” Stephan said.

At the restaurant, they realized the amazing twist of fate they had just witnessed. Seven years ago, Brown had saved Stephan’s life. Now at age 17, he had returned the favor.

“It’s almost unbelievable,” said Stephan, who is also an Eagle Scout.

“The fact that it has been two individuals, that you know, helped each other out in a pretty dire situation, it’s pretty extraordinary,” Brown said.

On Saturday, the two met again at the Bowmansville, N.Y., Fire Hall where Stephan is a junior firefighter. He presented her with a bouquet of flowers, and his parents were also there to greet Brown.

I’m going to try to get in touch with my inner Nicholas Sparks with this one… which is going to be tough because I’ve never actually read any of his novels. But here goes.

When Grant was 11 years old, he was down at the beach in the tourist town in which he lived. He heard cries for help. There floundering in the water, a young girl. The lifeguard was too far away to save her. Grant swam over, diving under the water, just barely grabbing the girl’s hand and pulling her to the surface, then hauling her back toward shore. The lifeguard met them, giving her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation before medics arrived and whisked the girl and her family away. It was almost as if it hadn’t happened, the event flashing by, then she was gone.

Years later, Molly lives outside Boston. While attending nursing school, she works two jobs to support herself including this one as a waitress at a posh restaurant. It’s a typical busy night for the waitstaff, Molly deftly circumnavigating the crowd to handle her tables.

Suddenly a commotion. A young man staggering to his feet, gasping for breath. He’s choking. No one seems to know what to do, frozen in place. Molly immediately leaps into action, giving him the Heimlich maneuver, dislodging a piece of meat from the young man’s throat. It’s one of those strange moments, both scary and embarrassing, and after thanking Molly, everyone settles back into their normal routine.

That night after tipping the chef and crew, Molly steps outside only to see the young man, standing beside a limousine. He had returned to thank her. “You saved my life,” he says. She tries to shrug it off, but he’s serious. “When I couldn’t breathe, that feeling, desperation… I could sense my life coming to an end.”

He wants to do something to thank her, at the very least would she share a drink with him. It’s late, most every place in the area is closed. He gestures to the limo. The chauffeur opens the back door. Inside a bottle of champagne on ice.

And so Molly ends up on a nighttime drive with this handsome young man. Turns out, he founded a hi-tech company in Boston and is worth millions. As they get to talking, she mentions how she could relate to his near-death experience as she had one, too. She was a tourist visiting a beach community. The young man says, “I used to live there. In fact, I saved a girl from drowning one summer.”

A few more pieces of information reveal the shocking truth: The young man is named Grant and he saved Molly’s life. And tonight, Molly returned the favor.

So here they are, two young people who have nothing in common. She is middle-class, an anonymous woman struggling to get ahead in life. He is a wealthy magnate who travels the world and is famous among his peers. The only thing they have in common is that they saved each others’ lives.

Has destiny brought them back together for a purpose… or is this just a completely random meeting of chance? And if it’s destiny, what else does fate have in store for them?

That’s my setup… and my thirtieth – and last – story idea for the month. And it’s yours. Free!

What would you do with it?

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). And come back tomorrow for links to all thirty stories for the 2015 A Story Idea Each Day For A Month series.

A Story Idea Each Day for a Month — Day 29

April 29th, 2015 by

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

Today’s story: Man Wakes Up from Coma Convinced That He’s Matthew McConaughey.

After six days in a coma, a 25-year-old from Birmingham, England woke up speaking fluent French and thinking that he was Matthew McConaughey.

You know what I like about horrific traffic accidents, man? You almost stop getting older (because you could die) and you wake up as a famous American actor during peak McConaissance.

Rory Curtis, a barber, was severely injured when he hit the back of a truck while on his bike and then, according to Metro, was struck by six additional cars in a subsequent pile up. It took nearly 40 minutes for rescue workers to extract him from the wreckage that left him with a brain injury and in a coma.

Thankfully, Curtis woke up just less than a week later—and he woke up with special skills.

“I don’t remember coming round but my family said one of the nurses was from Africa and spoke French and I was having conversations with her,” Curtis told the UK journal. “I was just casually chatting away about how I was feeling in this perfect French accent.”

He continued:

“My mum and dad were stunned when they got to hospital and the nurse asked them what side of the family was French…And then I was sitting there spouting a foreign language from my hospital bed acting all French in their sort of arrogant yet sophisticated way. It wasn’t me at all.”

Even more out of character was Curtis’ assumption that he was Matthew McConaughey.

“When I went to the toilet I went to look in the mirror and I was shocked because I didn’t look like him, I didn’t know what I was looking at,” he claims. “Then slowly over time it eventually clicked and I thought ‘he is an actor, what am I on about?’, but at times I was in hospital thinking I can’t wait to get out of here and back to filming movies.”

At first, I was going to go mainstream comedy with this one, but then another take emerged. Imagine a small community just like this one from Local Hero:

Three, four generations of families have grown up here and through the decades, not much has happened in this remote corner of the world. Then one day, perhaps the least memorable member of the village has an accident. Taken to the local doctor’s office. And when he wakes up, he believes himself to be Matthew McConaughey.

[Note: It doesn’t have to be McConaughey, in fact due to Mr. Curtis’ experiences, it might be advisable to change the actor anyhow. But whoever it is, s/he would have to be as memorable a character as McConaughey — recognizable voice, big personality, a live-wire.]

Now, of course, the gentleman in question, let’s call him Quincy, is not McConaughey, but he’s convinced of it. And damn if he doesn’t walk, talk and act just like the actor. In fact, he seems to know an awful lot about McConaughey’s personal life. Is it true? It can’t be, right?

But here’s the thing: What if Quincy as McConaughey starts to have an interesting impact on the village. Woos women. Inspires guys to take up bungee-jumping or some such craziness. Teaches everyone how to dance McConaughey-style, complete with pelvic thrusts.

And after awhile, a portion of the community does not want Quincy to change back to… you know… Quincy. They like having McConaughey around, even if they know it’s not the actor. He’s made life in the village more enjoyable and fun.

Of course, there is a faction — parish priest, mayor, stick-in-the-mud elders — that absolutely wants this nonsense to stop, perceiving that Quincy is having a degrading influence on the citizenry.

And you know where this whole thing is headed, don’t you? Who shows up to prove to Quincy that he [Quincy] is not McConaughey, but this guy!

Look, if Charlie Kaufman can write Being John Malkovich, why not do this story? The beauty is McConaughey, or whoever you pick, only has to do a 1 or 2 day shoot.

There you go: My twenty ninhth 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 28

April 28th, 2015 by

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

Today’s story:  8 Nuclear Weapons the U.S. Has Lost.

During the Cold War the United States military misplaced at least eight nuclear weapons permanently. These are the stories of what the Department of Defense calls “broken arrows”—America’s stray nukes, with a combined explosive force 2,200 times the Hiroshima bomb.

A disquieting thought especially since there are B-52s flying at all times around the Arctic Circle, loaded with nuclear bombs. Then, too, they have to transport bombs from air base to air base across the continental U.S. from time to time. Mechanical failure do happen. Here is one such instance from the article:

January 24, 1961. A B-52 carrying two 24-megaton nuclear bombs crashed while taking off from an airbase in Goldsboro, North Carolina. One of the weapons sank in swampy farmland, and its uranium core was never found despite intensive search efforts to a depth of 50 feet. To ensure no one else could recover the weapon, the USAF bought a permanent easement requiring government permission to dig on the land.

We’ve already had the 1996 action thriller Broken Arrow: “Terrorists steal nuclear warheads from the U.S. military but don’t count on a pilot and park ranger spoiling their plans.”

So what if we went the comedy route? Imagine a couple of characters like these two guys:

Let’s imagine the pair is especially down on their luck when lo and behold, a hydrogen bomb lands in their back yard. What would two really dumb guys do when they suddenly found themselves in possession of a nuclear bomb? Quite a bargaining chip with civil authorities, don’t you think?

“We’ll give it back, but only if you give us a lifetime supply of Twinkees… and a WWF championship match broadcast live from our basement… and Betty White to read ‘Goodnight, Moon’ go us and tuck us in at night.'”

Of course, government officials could threaten to arrest our heroes, maybe even open fire on them. But then, that is an actual hydrogen bomb sitting right there behind our boys, as they sit splayed in their broken down lounge furniture, sucking down Grain Belt beer (“And oh yeah, we want you to replace our patio furniture with reclining Barcoloungers… with the massage fingers… and heat element to warm our asses”).

Besides once this hits the press, every crazed militia member from across the political spectrum would show up to protect our guys, holding Washington D.C. over a barrel. Hell, once you’ve got a bomb in your back yard, you could pretty much declare your 2 acres of property abutting a swamp a sovereign nation.

And this is before the guys haul the bomb into their van and take off across America for their cherished dream of doing a rock and roll tour for their heavy metal duet known as Bongwater. Name of the tour: “The Goin’ Nuclear World Tour”. Driving hither and yon, blithely oblivious to the fact that the damn bomb could go off any minute.

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, 2015 by

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

Today’s story: The “Flying Squadron” of Catherine de Medici’s Sex Spies.

This story emerged from research I was doing on – of all things – artichokes. While going down the long tail of the Internet, I stumbled across this item about Catherine de Medici:

Catherine scandalized French society with her addiction to artichokes, which had the reputation of being an aphrodisiac. She also encouraged her entourage to eat artichokes, particularly the L’ escadron volant (the flying squadron), a bevy of beautiful girls who were coached as “spies of the couch”, bedding down with the influential nobles. The L’ escadron volant traveled everywhere with Catherine, a sort of whorehouse on wheels. By the end Catherine’s reign, artichokes had become one of the most popular French vegetables.

That struck me as interesting, so I switched from artichokes to this “flying squadron”. I found this

Until recently, the rule of Catherine de Medici (1519-89), Queen Mother and regent of France, has been depicted as dependent on her inherently `Italian’ and ‘female’ skills of manipulation and deception, culminating in the legend of the ‘wicked Italian queen’. Xenophobic stereotypes of corruption and sexual deviance were extended to describe her domineer-ing exploitation of her ladies-in-waiting, known colloquially by later historians as her escadron volant (flying squadron). She allegedly ordered these women to seduce and spy on influential noblemen, and their collective reputation has been used to discredit Catherine’s abilities as both a negotiator and a leader. For example, a 1584 satirical verse described her entourage with the lines, “Catin, you are fortunate/To have a stable of whores “? The metaphor of Catherine’s entourage as a stable (haras translates directly as ‘stud farm’) of women from whom she could choose the most suitable to seduce unsuspecting men was developed and exagger-ated until by the late twentieth century a literary scholar could describe the court thus:

Perhaps we need to recognize just how hypnotic this team of sexual Machiavels seemed to contemporaries. They were supposedly quite without prudery or inhibitions: after crises like the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre they distracted Catherine by dancing before her naked, and to celebrate the royal victory at La Charite, they served a sumptuous meal naked but for a wisp of material around their hips, while the king himself reports that the ‘Mattresses d’h8tel’ for the dinner, the irresistible madame de Sauves and the duchesse de Retz, wore nothing at all.

—-

The flying squadron is not a myth. The queen did not disdain the collaboration of the ladies of her household in order to accelerate or complete political negotiations.

Myth or not, my imagination went to a female version of The Three Musketeers. Or a Medieval “Charlie’s Angels” with Catherine de Medici playing the part of Charlie.

In an era of all sorts of political intrigue, we are talking about a bevy of women who, while certainly willing to use their physical charms to disarm targets and opponents, are skilled in the Art of War as well as the Art of Love. Fencing. Gunpowder. Knives. Poisons. Indeed, Catherine could have assembled a phalanx of international instructors to teach the members of her Flying Squadron fighting skills from around the world.

Pick a plot with geopolitical implications. Set the women into motion. A sexy action adventure yarn with plenty of fisticuffs, espionage, and explosions along with a healthy dose of action-humor.

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, 2015 by

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

Today’s story: Family gives homeless, dying dog the best days of his life.

Butch the Boston terrier had a rough life, but for one week, he knew what it was like to be loved.

After being abandoned by his owners in Pinson, Alabama, Butch spent two years on the street, eating garbage and barely surviving through the harsh winter. Alicia Buzbee and her daughter, Kansas Humphrey, found Butch before Thanksgiving, and rushed him to the vet, who shared the bad news: Butch had a swollen heart, limited lung capacity, and a leaky trachea. For his sake, a humane euthanasia was the right thing to do.

Buzbee and Humphrey agreed, but not before asking to delay the euthanasia so Butch could experience joy in his final days. The pair took him to the fire station and to meet Santa, and a big party filled with presents was held in his honor at a local park.

He ate cheeseburgers and pumpkin pie, and snuggled against Humphrey at night.

—-

After Thanksgiving, though, Butch took a turn for the worse, and on Saturday, with his new family by his side, he died. Buzbee made sure she looked into his eyes as he went, and told him how much she loved him. “I want him to hear those words and see those faces of the people who love him,” she said.

Out of curiosity, I Googled “dying dog movies” and there are a lot. For example, here is a list called The 25 Most Traumatic Dog Deaths in Movies. Having written a movie in which a police dog gets shot in the line of duty and almost dies, I’ve gone down this path before.

It’s emotional stuff.

So what if we did something like the last act of Terms of Endearment, only instead of Debra Winger, the dying patient is this fellah:

That’s Butch from the story cited above. A community rallies around the dog who transforms them in the process before passing away. Not a dry eye in the house.

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, 2015 by

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

Today’s story: The woman who keeps comedians sane.

Ildiko Tabori has never stood on a stage trying to make strangers laugh, doesn’t write jokes, and admits that she’s not great at telling them. Trying to recount something clever she heard, she makes advance apologies: “I’m not going to do it justice.”

But if you make a living being funny, Tabori understands the particulars of your pain better than most: For the past 3 ½ years, she’s been an in-house psychologist at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood.

“Being a comedian is truly the hardest job in the entertainment industry,” Tabori says. “You have a lot of late nights. You have good sets; you have bad sets. It is kind of a lonely existence at times.”

She knows about the constant pressure of finding gigs. The uncertainty of whether the routine that worked yesterday will work tonight. The front-row drunk, ruining your set. The allure of drugs and alcohol. The hard-to-describe emptiness that attends interactions with fans, who mistakenly believe they know you because they related to a joke.

And the strain of watching fellow comics shoot to stratospheric success, sometimes as fresh arrivals on the scene. “I do hear that a lot,” Tabori says. “‘Why is this person successful, and why am I not?'”

—-

During the day, she sees patients at her West Los Angeles office. Two or three nights a week, she drives to the Sunset Strip club around the time comedians start taking the stage.

Clients follow her up a narrow staircase, past the bar and VIP lounge, to a third-floor office where they sit on an old-fashioned red couch that used to belong to Groucho Marx. Clowns gape from the walls. Through the floorboards rise the muffled sounds of jokes living and dying on the stage below.

“Initially people were skeptical of Dr. Tabori because, A. she’s a female; B. they didn’t think they needed any help; and C. how could this doctor who never did stand-up comedy understand them?” says veteran comic Sunda Croonquist, who has been seeing her for three years.

She says Tabori helped her get through “a horrible, dark time in my life” precipitated by a lawsuit by her in-laws, who were angry at her depiction of them in her act.

“She’s hardcore,” Croonquist says. “You’re not gonna get a fluffy pillow. It’s like, ‘Sunda, you have to deal with this.'”

Okay, all you rom-com fans. This is a movie waiting to happen. It’s Anna Kendrick and Whoever (she’s so awesome, you could pair her with a tree stump and she could pull it off). She’s a shrink to Hollywood comedians. Something she stumbled into. Has her regular practice. Then a couple of nights a week, it’s off to a comedy club to help a bunch of neurotic, anxiety-ridden, bipolar-like comics maintain their on-stage edge while somehow managing to circumnavigate the complexities of everyday life.

She’s been doing this for years and always managed to separate the professional aspect of being a shrink from the personal side of her life. Not that she hasn’t had male comics as well as females hit on her. That’s to be expected when you hold their hands, help them through crying jags, hold pillows for them to assault in order to express their rage, and keep them from careening off into the emotional stratosphere before some big gig on TV.

Then along comes Whoever. And there’s something about this guy that starts to erode her wall of separation. Why? What is it about him? What is it about her in her own stage of life?

Twist: What if she drops him as a client in order for them to be able to date. But once they start seeing each other, he loses his comedic edge.

It’s Punchline meets Good Will Hunting.

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.

A Story Idea Each Day for a Month — Day 24

April 24th, 2015 by

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

Today’s story: Chinese boy discovers 3,000-year-old sword in a river.

A child in east China’s Jiangsu Province had a stroke of luck after lunging into a river and stumbling upon a 3,000-year-old bronze sword.

Yang Junxi, an 11-year-old boy, discovered upon the rusty sword on July 2 when he was playing near the Laozhoulin River in Linze Township of Gaoyou County, according to the Gaoyou Cultural Relics Bureau.

While washing hands in the river, Yang touched the tip of something hard and fished out the metal sword. He took it home and gave it to his father Yang Jinhai.

Upon hearing the news, people began flocking to Yang’s home, the father said.

“Some people even offered high prices to buy the the sword, but I felt it would be illegal to sell the cultural relic,” Yang said.

A variation of The Sword in the Stone, that’s where my head went. Straight to an action-adventure movie in which the sword carries with it some magical powers… but also a curse or legacy. So instead of A Kid in King Arthur’s Court, as soon as the sword is moved from its resting place, it causes 3,000 year old Chinese war lords to appear in the present. And in the process resuscitate an ancient feud… with the kid now perceived to be the leader of the opposition side. It’s the kid versus these guys:

Throw in an old Mentor figure, maybe the kid’s grandfather who knows Chinese history. The kid’s crew of friends. Hijinks! Mayhem! Destruction of property! And a magic sword!

I mean, come on!

There you go: My twenty fourth 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 23

April 23rd, 2015 by

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

Today’s story: September 11th and the Hospitable People of Gander, Newfoundland.

In the immediate aftermath of the September 11th attacks, our Canadian neighbors sprang into action to help clear American airspace of any other potentially dangerous flights. The action was known as Operation Yellow Ribbon, and in those uncertain first hours after the attacks, it was hugely helpful. The mission also made a tiny town in Newfoundland world famous for its hospitality.

Canadian authorities began diverting flights heading into the U.S. to various locations around Canada to help neutralize any lingering threats, but the task was a tricky one. It wouldn’t have made much sense to pull flights away from American airspace only to route them to Canada’s major centers, so the ideal landing spots for these planes would be relatively remote while also having a large enough airport to accommodate all the traffic.

As luck would have it, Canada had just such an airport in Gander, Newfoundland.

The tiny town only boasted 10,000 residents, but what it lacked in population size, it more than made up for in airport capacity. Gander International Airport had previously served as a refueling stop for transatlantic flights and had served as a staging point for U-boat hunting flights during World War II. Gander ended up receiving 38 flights in the wake of the September 11th attacks, second only to Halifax’s 47 diverted flights.

Landing all the planes in Gander was easy. Figuring out what to do with the 6,500-plus passengers and crew members who were stuck on the ground until flights resumed was quite a bit tougher. Towns of 10,000 people aren’t exactly built to accommodate sudden 66% population surges, so there wasn’t hotel and restaurant capacity to take in all these stranded flyers.

Gander’s population may have been small, but the town was also ridiculously hospitable. To say the locals bent over backwards to accommodate their unexpected guests would be a gross understatement. When flyers stepped off of their planes, Gander’s citizens met them with homemade bagged lunches. The town converted its schools and large buildings into temporary shelters, and when those lodgings filled up, citizens took strangers into their homes. Medical personnel saw patients and filled prescriptions free of charge.

—-
As former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien told Gander’s citizens in a memorial on the first anniversary of the attacks, “You did yourselves proud, ladies and gentlemen, and you did Canada proud.”

I remember reading about this years ago in the New Yorker or New York Times, and have always thought there is a movie here. Why don’t we take it from the perspective of a brother and sister, 9 and 11 year old respectively. They live in this tiny little town in Newfoundland and are bored silly. Every day, they lie on their backs, staring up into the sky, just waiting for something… anything to happen.

Then it does. 9/11. Dozens of airplanes land. Suddenly, their tiny island home is inundated with foreigners, people from all over the world.

There’s the setup. I imagine there could be a storyline involving the siblings interfacing with kids their own age from a startlingly different background. A family from Asia or Africa stays with our sibling’s family. Tension among the parents as who knows what other violent events might be happening.

A major event transforms a small community as seen through the eyes of young children.

There you go: My twenty third 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 22

April 22nd, 2015 by

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

Today’s story: A Man Renovating His Home Discovered A Tunnel… To A Massive Underground City.

In 1963, a man in the Nevşehir Province of Turkey knocked down a wall of his home. Behind it, he discovered a mysterious room and soon discovered an intricate tunnel system with additional cave-like rooms. What he had discovered was the ancient Derinkuyu underground city in Turkey.

The elaborate subterranean network included discrete entrances, ventilation shafts, wells, and connecting passageways. It was one of dozens of underground cities carved from the rock in Cappadocia thousands of years ago. It remained hidden for centuries.

The underground city at Derinkuyu is neither the largest nor oldest, but its 18 stories make it the deepest.

Seriously. 18 stories?!?! Here are images of the underground city:

For more information on this site, go here.

Okay, what to do with this? You could easily go the horror route, how the dig awakens ghosts from the past who begin a rampage of violence on people in the present.

Too easy.

I had half a mind to go the comedy route. Setting: A repressed European town. Heavy church influence. Sin is a big deal. Young people with no hope of leaving stuck in dullsville. Then a couple of dim-witted brothers discover the underground city. What to do? Turn it into rave central: Import a hot DJ, plenty of drugs and booze, then lots of illicit partying directly underneath the staid old farts living on the surface. A subterranean Footloose.

But where I ended up is this idea of an underground labyrinth. A group of thrill-seeking cavers enter the site to explore its nooks and crannies. Their compasses stop working. Their sophisticated electronic gear acts all weird. And they get separated… and lost.

So maybe we do end up back with a horror story. Or at least a psychological thriller. Somebody could be whacking the cavers, one by one. But who? Or what?

If I were to do this, I might be tempted to play around with much of the story being told in pitch black. When I was a kid, our family visited the Luray Caverns:

At one point in the tour, they turned off all the lights. I have never experienced darkness like that. Scared the bejeezus out of me.

What if someone did a movie where a full 10 minutes of it, split up of course, took place in nothing but black screen and O.S. voices / sound? I mean this…

And this…

“AAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Talk about cutting your budget! Audio over black for 10% of the movie!

There you go: My twenty second 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 21

April 21st, 2015 by

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

Today’s story: Activist Finds Missing Grandson 36 Years After the Government Abducted Him.

Estella Barnes de Carlotto, the founder an Argentine human rights group dedicated to finding missing children, said Monday that she has located her own grandson who was abducted by government forces over thirty years ago.

Carlotto founded The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo in 1977 to help locate hundreds of children who were kidnapped during Argentina’s “Dirty War,” a period of violent government crackdowns against political dissidents during the 1970s. An estimated 30,000 people, including 500 children, were taken during the military dictatorship. The missing became known as “Los Desaparecidos” or “The Disappeared Ones.” Many of the children were raised by the same military officials who kidnapped them or even killed their parents.

Carlotto’s grandson, who her other daughter Claudia described as “happy and emotional,” was identified by the media as 36-year-old Igancio Hurban. His mother, activist Laura Colotto was taken into custody while she was still pregnant and executed with bullets to the head and stomach two months after giving birth. Hurban, now a music teacher outside Buenos Aires, was given to another family, who raised him as their own.

“Thanks to everyone, thanks to God, thanks to life because what I wanted was not to die until hugging him and soon I will be able to hug him.”

There was a movie in 1982 called Missing starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek. Plot summary: “When an idealistic writer disappears during the Right Wing military coup in 1973 Chile, his wife and American businessman father try to find him.” So this is terrain traversed before in Hollywood.

Think of the universal themes in this story: Persistence. Belief. Hope. Family. And fundamentally an underdog story of the Individual vs. the System. Other movies with these dynamics in play include some notable ones including The Shawshank Redemption, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Papillon.

You could seek out the life rights to the actual story. Or you could fictionalize it. And if you go that route, why not genre bend it a bit. Instead of a feel good story with a happy ending, what if you went in the direction of a Protagonist who had lost a son or daughter, kidnapped in some foreign country, then spend the script not only following the character’s physical journey, gathering clues, but focus on their descent into a psychological morass. Lost in their obsession. And perhaps a twist ending: What if the son or daughter actually died years ago and the Protagonist created a false history of the kidnapping in order to distance him/herself from the truth of the past? This way, the Protagonist has some hope, albeit based on a lie… but over time they have come to believe it to be true. The very idea of kidnapped becomes a metaphor as their grasp of reality is ‘kidnapped’ by the tragic turn of events.

But you play the search and backstory as real all the way through the story. The Protagonist could have put together a file of clues and facts s/he has gathered along the way which seem to suggest the kidnapping is real. However that could all have been fabricated by the Protagonist. Moreover you could enter into the mind of the Protagonist to ‘see’ the kidnappers, give chase to them. And like Parcher (Ed Harris) in A Beautiful Mind, we can learn toward the end, it was all a fabrication, concocted by the Protagonist in their desperate attempt to avoid the truth that their child is dead.

I imagine a bleak ending here: The Protagonist meets death. But at least that way, they can rejoin their child… at least in their dying delusions.

Dark story. But hey, we live in disturbing times. Might fit the zeitgeist.

There you go: My twenty first 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.