Generating Ideas for Writing - It's All Fun and Games

It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt, then it becomes a story. Many movies, books, and television shows are very similar to common kids games. Can I make an interesting story out of one? Let's see.

The first question is, which game shall I choose? Options include: hide and seek, tag, cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, kick the can, capture the flag, tug of war, and catch.

I think cops and robbers and cowboys and Indians are both too common to be very fun to explore. I do enjoy those shows though, so maybe I'm wrong. Nevertheless, let's choose something else. Some sort of chase story is very common as well. It may be interesting to have something more like tag where someone is chasing, when they get to the other person maybe they take something, then they are chased. That sets up nicely for reversals. I don't know if I can do much with catch, other than use it as a loose metaphor. Maybe a lover moves between two people, maybe an item is traded back and forth. Nothing good seems to come to mind there. Hide and seek is another common plot. That leaves me with kick the can, capture the flag, and tug of war.

Kick the can seems to be a good setup for some sort of revenge plot. A person is simply trying to get to something and destroy or hurt it while another person protects it. Revenge plots can be excellent. I like The Revenant and John Wick. It could also be about destroying something for a more strategic reason. War is the obvious thing (like blowing a bridge), but maybe a business or political reason, maybe blackmail or evidence of a past indiscretion.

Capture the flag has pretty obvious war plots. Can I make it a little more intriguing than that? What about a revolutionary technology of some sort that has been half developed by two different firms. Maybe they are commissioned by the same person or organization, but that was intentional, to keep either firm from getting the full ability. I could fairly easily slip back into a more common military type theme here. Let's see if I can keep it somewhat unique. Maybe it's a dystopia where all food has been genetically modified so that you have to activate it with a special chemical to get the seeds to grow, and that is only available from one huge corrupt company. The technology got out of hand and the chemical stopped working. The major food sources such as wheat, corn, rice, potatoes, etc. are all vanishing. Starvation is happening, for the lower classes at least, there is unrest and revolution in the air. The research firms, maybe one is a university and the other is a think tank, have both successfully done one half of the work of getting seeds to sprout again. An ambitious person at each firm is eager to get the whole solution to become rich, governments are eager to get it to stop revolutions, the big corporation is eager to get it so they don't go bankrupt. This is an intriguing corporate spy story set in an interesting sci-fi world.

Tug of war, what can I do with that? I could go abstract metaphor, but I have another idea. I recently watched the movie Free Fire. Almost the entire movie occurs in one warehouse, where a big shootout happens after an arms deal goes south. Maybe this could inspire a tug of war style story. It kind of is already, there is a case of money that everyone wants in the movie and it moves back and forth between people. Alright, I don't have a great idea for tug of war.

The best idea that developed here is definitely from capture the flag. All of the games can inspire some sort of good story, that is just the one that appeals to me the most. I am thinking about entering an idea contest soon; I may consider this idea for an entry. You are welcome to join me and see what happens next, it will be a surprise for us both, at


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