Generating Ideas for Writing - Television Series

I am thinking about entering a contest, two contests actually, one about coming up with an idea for a television show and one about coming up with an idea for a movie. So . . . I have to come up with an idea.

A television show is not plotted out for the entire series before it begins, usually it is not plotted out past the first season, often it is not plotted out past the pilot episode. There needs to be a good plot, and a pattern can develop for the episodes, and it is nice if the whole series develops some sort of plot, but the consistent thing is the character or characters, and many times the setting. That is where I will begin.

Let me rethink that, I have generated a lot of different ideas for stories in my blog just in the last couple of weeks. So, maybe, it would make sense to look at some of those and see if there is one I really like. For science fiction, alternate history, and fantasy a few of the different ideas were: what if JFK wasn't assassinated but that ended up being bad, what if the US wasn't actually in the space race against the Soviet Union, what if the US didn't win the Soviet Union, what if the US went to the moon for another reason, what if the Allies lost WW1, or WW2, or if the North lost the American Civil War, or the Brits won the American Revolutionary War, what if there were other human species still in existence, what if dinosaurs never went extinct, what if Hitler died young, Martin Luther King died old, Rome didn't fall, Rome didn't convert to Christianity, the Mongols conquered the world, Alexander conquered Asia, the Ancient Egyptians conquered Africa, the Brits didn't lose their empire, or the Japanese got the atomic bomb first. That is a lot of different ideas to play with, but none of them really caught my attention.

Let's look at some of the other ideas I have posted before. The wild west, Texas during their revolution, the California gold rush, the earth has two moons, or no moons, there are cyborgs, cloning, intelligent computers, space travel, genetic modification, nuclear fusion, nuclear apocalypse, aliens, ghosts, demons.

What about some of the ideas I have adapted by pulling from history? A general crosses the Alps with elephants, crosses the galaxy with warships, crosses the ocean with warships, crosses the desert with dragons, crosses the underworld with demons, crosses the rainforest with ghosts, crosses the city with rabid dogs.

Many of these things are plot based, so I am not so sure that works very well for a television series, unless you already have a large part of the plot and details worked out. Many book adaptations work, but I don't have a book to adapt. Some of the ideas just don't fascinate me. I did write a short story recently about a character that may be interesting.

A garbage man who occasionally gets a cash tip from the mob hopes that he is going to be able to pay for his daughter's college, and fears that his knee isn't going to be able to keep doing the job forever.

I am not sure that really has enough inherent conflict, maybe if the daughter is dating the son of the mob boss and he doesn't want her to go to college. That adds a nice amount of conflict.

A garbage man is hoping to be able to send his daughter to college, but her boyfriend doesn't want her to go. The garbage man gets some extra tips for disposing of things for the mob, and his daughter's boyfriend is the son of the mob boss.

That maybe okay, I am not sure. Maybe it just doesn't have enough zing to it. There is a lot of inherent conflict, but I'm not sure if it is good enough. Maybe I will work on this one more, maybe I will come up with something else, we shall see. You are welcome to join me at


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