More Ideas

I fell into a pure consummatory phase, and yet my mind churns with ideas. Without execution our inspiration finds itself more than transient, more and more limited by temporal bounds, until at last it has only been a whim. Perhaps it was a fancy whim, but a whim nevertheless. And so it must pass, from our immediate awareness to the past, and without the consolation of having been written. So write, I must.


I have about nineteen things I want to talk about. We shall see how it actually comes out. First, Mithra.

1)
It would be amazing for someone to construct the epic tales of Mithra, an ancient Roman god. We have the pictures, but we don't have the words. An epic the likes of the Illiad, the Odyssey, the Aeneid, or Paradise Lost seems like it would be appropriate. How much better would it be if it could actually be sung? Also, you could make a book that tells the tale in verse, and prose, and a type of hieroglyphics. Now that would be an epic. You could have various editions for various painters, sketch artists, actors, and singers. You could have the audiobook read, sung, and performed as an audio drama. It's an epic I would like to see.

2)
The phenomenon of gold fever is very interesting. I have always found it such, and my Uncle John mentioned an interesting take on it that has been ruminating around in my head. The more I think about it the more adaptable it seems to become. Obviously gold fever could be true history, or historical fiction. It could also be contemporary. It could be framed as a mystery, a thriller, a western, true crime, science fiction, fantasy, romance, or basically anything else. I think science fiction and fantasy may be the most interesting, and I think fantasy is the oldest story form, the most popular, and the most important. You could have urban or epic fantasy. You could have hard or soft fantasy or science fiction. Obviously a lot of these would lend themselves to an interesting exploration of economics in addition to the major aim of fiction which is the exploration of psychology, decisions, values, and actions. I think alchemy is the obvious take in fantasy. In science fiction you could do the same thing, just in the science fiction way, and that could be hard or soft. Hard means it has hard rules and soft means that the rules are soft.

3)
A unique format for a stage play still interests me, the play in one table idea. I'm not sure if I'm enthusiastic about dealing with the whole stage part though, and then I realized there is another direction that is possible. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy was originally an audio drama, then it was a book, then it was a movie. An audio drama may work well. I think the stage would work even better, but the audio drama could be a nice stepping stone.

4)
Life is a series of defining moments. It would be interesting to write a story that is slightly disjointed to show that, a bit episodic. Frankenstein and Dracula already have that going on a bit with their epistolary style, a book presented in letters, but I don't think that would always be necessary. You could simply date, time, and place stamp the page and then present it from a third person perspective. Or, maybe an end of life deathbed frame where the person's life is flashy before their eyes. Ooo, I like that idea, and it perfectly intersects with the idea of a third person perspective in an episodic series of events spanning a lifetime.

5)
Not all good things are good. It's fairly widely known that people that win the lottery have an increase in subjective happiness for about a year and then return to their baseline. Also, it fairly often seems to ruin their lives. I think it would be interesting to write that perspective of the amazing luck story, the bad luck part. Even though it seems like a socio-economic ascension it's really a descent into chaos.

6)
The Death Wafer by Mark Twain is an amazing short story. He worked on that story for 12 years. He started writing it 6 times and had to scrap it because it wasn't right. I think it could be even more powerful if it was a tragedy, and I think it would be interesting to re-write it as a tragedy.

7)
Dracula and Frankenstein are both epistolary books that founded two of the greatest monsters in history. Werewolves should be in that category, but I don't think they have that classic book to act as a foundational stone for the story. It would be cool to make that. You could present the book with pictures of the moon cycle in the corner of the page too, that's an interesting magic system. It would act like a cyclical ticking clock.

8)
Cain and Abel is one of the greatest stories ever told, and it's 388 words long. Romulus and Remus have a bit of a similar story as the founding brothers of Rome. I think that would be an interesting story to write, Romulus and Remus as Cain and Abel, as theme and motif.

9)
Also, Romulus and Remus could be a good foundation story for werewolves because they were raised a she-wolf. Maybe the killing of Remus could be tied in with the foundation of werewolves, it seems plausible to me.

10)
The idea of the pyramid of abstraction is a powerful one with higher abstractions near the top and more concrete representations at the bottom. It works amazingly well because it takes more words to make something more concrete, usually, and the semantic triangle really comes into play. I learned about the pyramid of abstraction from Brandon Sanderson's writing class at Brigham Young University, which is interesting because I've been so interested in epistemology, or the study of knowledge, for so many years that I'm surprised I haven't encountered such a useful tool before. Anyway, a story can be told at different levels of the pyramid, and should fluctuate within the story a lot as well. It would be interesting to see the same story told at different levels of abstraction, and especially in the same volume. You could order them in various ways. Maybe start with the full story that's something like 200 pages, then do it in 20 pages, then do it in 2 pages. Higher and higher abstraction, or you could do it the other way and make it more and more concrete.

11)
Brandon Mull was teaching a class and mentioned that a writer gets paid for their voice, but as he was talking about it I realized that what he was really saying is that a writer gets paid for their embodied voice. It has to be a reality. That reminded me of a book by the comedian Bo Burnham that's titled Egghead: Or, You Can't Survive on Ideas Alone. A lesson I need to absorb.

12)
The two sins of writing are boredom and confusion. I noticed this as a reader. If I'm confused then why am I reading the book? If I'm bored, then why am I reading the book? That's an important lesson to remember as a writer.

13)
Jerry Seinfeld is the most successful comedian of all time. That's hard to refute considering the popularity of his comedy over the decades and decades that he's been doing it, especially when combined with the fact that he is worth 800 million dollars because of that comedy. He has straightforward and useful advance that I need to absorb: be ruthless and relentless, be relaxed, have energy, love the work, your confidence allows others to relax because they feel you are competent, get inspired, execute, and pay attention to the details.

14)
I read an interesting article recently by L. Ron Hubbard titled Magic From a Hat. He's best known now for being the founder of Scientology, but he's also one of the most successful science fiction writers in history. He went through a bit of a writing process and revealed behind the scenes. I've been wondering about different writing processes and I liked this one. He basically wrote at a really abstract level, almost an outline level, but when there was an important scene he dove into it on a concrete level. I like that process. It's a fast version of discovery writing, or a more concrete version of outlining. Either way, I like it.

15)
I had an interesting dream around a week ago. I was looking across a wooden table at myself. It was in a little rustic cottage type of environment. The other me was bent over the table writing on a pad of paper. On the table to the other me's right was a flat little metal device with paper in it that looked like it might be doing something like transcription. On the other me's left was a medium cabinet with a classic radio on top that was saying something. I'm not sure what it was saying. I dream a lot but I don't usually remember them for more than a few seconds when I wake up. For some reason this one has stayed with me, I can still clearly see the image in my head. It seems like it's important for some reason.

16)
I had another semi-dream in a meditative state about a dead girl that has descended into the underworld, in a classic Greek style, so Hades. She's walking along a river that is flowing with black milk. She's surrounded b a bleak redness of dull light that lets her see only her immediate surroundings beyond which there is a black emptiness of despair. The river is winding its way through a hard desert-like landscape. She has no real choice but to follow it. It lends itself nicely to an interesting frame story with innumerable possibilities for stories within the story. See, in Hades there is the River Styx. There are many myths about the River Styx, but the most important one here, for now, is that it is a river of lost hopes and dreams. As she's walking along it she would look into the river and peer into another person's lost hope or dream. A few days after I had that vision I read the part about the Pensieve in Harry Potter, it's a similar idea. It has a little bit of the feel of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman too. I don't particularly like Neil Gaiman's writing and didn't finish the book. I have a similar relationship with Stephen King's writing. I think it may be that my thoughts tend to be so similar to a lot of what they write that it just seems redundant to read such similar thoughts as well. Anyway, this story has so much potential. Styx is a deity in Greek mythology that is the boundary between the living and underworld. So much potential.

17)
In a similar vein I have always been interested in the Fields of Asphodel, which is where most people go in the afterlife in Greek mythology. Normal people just get a boring afterlife where they wander these grey fields for all of eternity. What if there were some people that wanted to escape that? Or throw a revolt? It could get interesting.

18)
The show The Good Place is interesting, I like it. It's about a demon that tries to torture humans psychologically in a new way by making them think that they are in the "good place" when they are really in the "bad place." At the end of season one everyone's' memory and situation are reset to be very similar to the first episode. That's so interesting. It has some commonality with Replay by Ken Grimwood, which is the best novel period, where a man lives his life from 18 to 43 several times with his memory. What if he went back without his memory? Would it all be the same, or would something still change? If the show was good I could watch almost the same season with minor variations over and over if they had a reset feature built into the world at the end of each season that made sense. It's always interesting to watch decisions and consequences.

19)
I read The Rule of Names by Ursula Le Guin recently. It's an excellent short story about a dragon. It, combined with a few other things, has had me thinking about dragons. I think there is something powerful about this story idea that flashed into my head one day. A hero goes to fight the dragon in its lair to get the treasure for some reason, filling in that reason will be important. He defeats the dragon and possibly does some sort of victor ritual, maybe eating the heart or something like that. He then becomes the dragon and devours the carcass of the deceased dragon. Or, when the other dragon is killed his body turns back into a man right before our hero turns into the dragon. Both of those have some important things happening psychologically about confronting and overcoming the unknown, monsters, and the monster within. Jordan Peterson's book Maps of Meaning explains that stuff in more detail.

20)
I guess I have one extra thing. I've been thinking recently about guiding spirits. It would be interesting to go through a story that is not fantastic in any other way than that a man is guided by a spirit that is a dead pre-teen girl. I think that could be a hilarious interaction where she is always challenging him to be his best and his greatest hindrance lies within his own personality.

21)
Here is a great poem that I found in an early 1900's book for advice to writers.


The Real Genius

The lines flow freely when
There's thought behind the pen,
So wherefore praise the one
Who, having things to say,
Writes on until he's done,
And puts his pen away?

Give him the praise who toils
O'er every page he soils,
Who, lacking thought, still turns
The written sheets away:
A genius only learns
To write, with naught to say.

- S. E. Kiser


See more of Jeff Martin's writing at JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com

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