A Story Idea Each Day for a Month — Day 15

This is the 9th year in a row I’ve run this series in April. Each day, I’ll give you some tips on how to come up with stories.

Tip: Public domain.

Laws vary from country to country, but if a person, event, book is considered to be in the public domain, then from a writer’s perspective, it is free content, you don’t need to secure any rights.

You want to adapt “Romeo and Juliet” into a contemporary gang shoot-em-up love story, you can do that.

You want to turn Abraham Lincoln into a vampire hunter, you can do that.

Straight adaptation, genre bend, gender bend, whatever you want to do, you can do it with a public domain entity. Plus the added benefit: Pre-awareness.

Today’s story: 10 Bars at the End of the World.

AtlasObscura (Photo: Christopher/CC BY 2.0)
People have found ways to live in the most inhospitable places on Earth. Nearly immediately after finding a way to survive, they have found a way to get drunk.
Likely because of, rather than in spite of, the challenges of living in the far reaches of the world, establishing a communal space is a survival necessity. Be it at the base of an active volcano, inside a 6,000-year-old tree, or even on your way to Mount Everest, no matter how far off the grid you end up, you are likely to find a place for strong spirits and lively conversation.
Now raise a glass to 10 of the oldest, most remote, and simply unlikely places in the Atlas at which to have a drink. Cheers!

Check it out. Here’s the island with a bar at the base of a volcano:

Edinburgh of the Seven Seas (Photo: michael clarke stuff/CC BY-SA 2.0)

And here’s the bar in Africa inside a thousands year-old tree:

The small door in the huge tree. (Photo: Atlas Obscura user avbr
The cozy bar interior. (Photo: Atlas Obscura user avbr)

But I’m most interested in the one pictured up top because it reminds me a six day location scout I did with the director of my movie Alaska. We went all over the state: bush pilots, jet planes, river boats, helicopter, jeeps.

The whole trip is a blur, but I distinctly remember having a drink at a bar way out in the boonies outside Nome which is itself in the boonies. This particular bar claims to have been owned by Wyatt Earp — yes, that Wyatt Earp — but according to history, Earp did, indeed, own a bar called the Dexter Saloon which was located in the city limits of Nome.

The bar I partook a beer and a shot in was about 15 feet wide by 80 feet long. It had an actual bar with perhaps 10 stools. I’ve tried to find the name of it, but to no avail. Maybe you can look it up.

In any event, when I read this article, I thought of that really, really remote bar in the middle of nowhere Alaska… which let me to a story setup.

Above the Arctic Circle in Saskatchewan, Canada is a bar. Let’s call it Dooley’s. Just Dooley’s. It looks like something like this:

I mean, it is a dive. A few miles from the humble burg of Mosquito Grizzly Bears Head Lean Man (believe it or not, this is an actual name of a town in Saskatchewan). In our version, there’s about 40 hearty souls who live in this rundown shotgun shack of a gold mining town which went from boom to bust. The collection of oddball types who frequent Dooley’s think the town is too crowded. They choose to carve out their existence in the deep, deep woods. They include:

  • Horndog: Claims to be a Vietnam vet which would explain his lame right arm and the PTSD (be careful NOT to slam the front door).
  • Rev. Coulter: A Pentecostal minister who may have lost his faith due to mysterious circumstances, but not his constant Biblical references.
  • Auntie Lou: The only woman among the civilians, but the strongest of the lot and the bar’s arm wrestling champ.
  • Higgins: The owner of Dooley’s and barkeep having inherited the dump from her third husband who disappeared one day and never returned.
  • Him: Perhaps the most curious of them all because he doesn’t talk, but he does have a habit of carving odd symbols in the bar’s walls and chairs.

There are a few other denizens who drift in and out, but this quintet is the main crew. The daily mood can range from prickly to cantankerous to flat-out combative, depending upon the amount and mix of alcohol, but Dooley’s drinkers always manage to survive.

Until tonight.

A Stranger enters the bar. Of uncertain gender. Could be a guy. Let’s call them non-binary. Sensing the tension, Stranger buys the house a round.

That’s the evening’s high point. Let’s just say Stranger has a history here. Somebody? This place? And it’s not a pretty history. This becomes clear as Dooley’s denizens begin to disappear…

They say there are two kinds of stories: A person goes on a journey. A stranger comes to town. This is the latter. And this Stranger definitely means danger.

A contained thriller. Remote bar. Mystery. And maybe there’s something supernatural about this particular Stranger…

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

Here are links for all the previous posts in this year’s series:

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7
Day 8
Day 9
Day 10
Day 11
Day 12
Day 13
Day 14

Each day this month, I invite you to click on RESPONSES and join me to do some further brainstorming. Take each day’s story idea and see what it can become when you play around with it. These are all valuable skills for a writer to develop.

See you in comments. And come back tomorrow for another Story Idea Each Day For A Month.