Ideas from the Last Few Months - Part 1 of ?

Ideas for narratives are always coming to me. Stories are the underlying structure of our psychologies and our societies. Sometimes I write these ideas down. Here are a few. (Get ready, it will seem fast and chaotic.)


I like the idea of human clay. I like the Creed songs about human clay, I like the myth of the golem formed from clay as presented in Terry Pratchett's book series "Discworld", I like the story of Prometheus forming man from clay. I think it could be tied into the Adam, Eve, and Lilith story too. I like when they used the idea in the tv show "Warehouse 13". It just seems like more could be done with it.

I like the idea of the sands of time. What if there was an epic quest or battle for the sands of time, but then the sands of time did nothing? That happens with goals and attainments a lot, they are hard to achieve and then they're a let down once achieved. I had that experience with mountain climbing years ago. Now, I always have some value that I'm pursuing in the future so that the feeling of an existential vacuum never encroaches on my psyche, but it's still an important human experience.

What if you have a failed hero that is resurrected? He seeks to redeem himself, but he fails again. That could be a great tragedy. Then, the failed hero is redeemed and possibly resurrected by a successful hero that his failed struggle inspired. Then it's a powerful story about repeated failure, the value of fighting the good fight even if you lose, and a story of redemption and triumph. It sounds epic.

The ancient Egyptian god Isis as a heroine that saves her husband.

What if dragon flames didn't burn heroes, what if the dragon flames shrunk people? A hero is shrunken and eaten by the dragon. Inside of the dragon's belly he finds a group of other heroes playing a game of cards on a shield. He rallies these failed heroes and leads them to a victory in which they are redeemed and resurrected. That seems like an epic children's story.

What about the heroes encounter with the hero?

The Humpty Dumpty problem. That's a tiny story that can be so powerful. I think I could expand on that in interesting ways.

Many authors like to start a story by drawing the map first. "Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson famously started that way. What about taking the "Atlas of World History" and using the maps as jumping off points for stories? You can make them set in our world, or completely change things for a fantasy setting.

There are old maps of the earth from the ancient world that are quite different than our modern ones. Those could be great settings for stories. I like the one where there are four rivers that emanate from one point in the south.

Moon cycles are interesting. What about a moon cycle curse connected to a bracelet or something?

I wrote a four word story once. There is an article on my blog about it. I could hold a photo, drawing, or painting contest and include the images in a book along with an essay about how closure works in narratives.

I created what I termed a Killer Pacman a couple of decades ago as a doodle on schoolwork. That creature has now morphed into the Butterfly Monster over the last two years of teaching English online to kids in China. I also created a Butterfly Fairy and an enchanted Butterfly Forest. I was even thinking about doing the pictures myself for some children's books. It would be cool to get a real artist to do the same pictures and juxtapose them with mine in a book.

What if there was a Time Capsule Society that was seeking to send a person into the future, a human time capsule? If you travel the speed of light you don't age, meaning you can essentially travel forward in time. Interesting.

What if we combine the Philip K. Dick story of Autofac with the DARPA Eatr bots? Autofac is an automated factory that doesn't need any humans to run, it does the entire process from finding natural resources to producing things and repairing itself. Eatr bots are military walking drones that are designed to eat biological energy sources to fuel themselves. Essentially, they could shoot and then eat people to keep going. A system like that could actually conquer the world. Classic science fiction dystopia, but better, because we actually have the technology.

A kid in middle school notices that socks are disappearing. It's becoming harder and harder to find a pair that match. Is there a monster behind this Sockpocalypse?

A funny of satire where there is a world of peace and prosperity and our minor problems are their major problems. Utopia World Problems.

Restorative justice is promising. It's about the injuring and injured parties agreeing to restitution through any reasonable means. These are stories of the fall, transformation, and redemption.

Would it be fun to tell the mythical story of dragons creating man from clay and fire? I think it would. Prometheus the dragon? Maybe. What if all of the Greek gods were dragons? And all of the Titans too? What if angels were dragons? Angles as dragons with ancient Titan names and myths? Interesting. I am intrigued by all of that.

Sometimes our motivations are just surface motivations. Sometimes our underlying motivations are hidden even from ourselves. Then, when you achieve what you were aiming at you realize that it wasn't what you really wanted. That theme is explored a bit in the show "Wayne".

Using a third person point of view to introduce another character through some specific incident, and then switching to the close third person point of view for the protagonist from there on is interesting. Ursula K. Le Guin did this in one of the "Earthsea Cycle" books.

Can I integrate the novel and the graphic novel? I saw this partially done by a girl named Lily that is about 10 years old and it was thought provoking.

What if a comet hit earth and created hell? Pushed up Antarctica as the mountain of purgatory with the four rivers of the world flowing from it. This is Dante's version of the world.

I like the idea of blood as ink. Maybe there is magical ink blood that when harvested can be used to make magical books.

In the ancient Greek afterlife the heroes went to Elysium, most people went to the grey fields of Asphodel, some people went to the fields of Punishment, and the worst beings went to the black depths of Tartarus. What if the heroes in Elysium were bored, recruited the wandering masses in Asphodel, freed the prisoners from the fields of Punishment, and attacked Tartarus. Could be epic.

Beowulf is an old and odd story about a Viking fighting a monster. A weird modern take on it is "The 13th Warrior" movie with Antonio Banderas, based on a book by Michael Crichton, "Eaters of the Dead". What if the monsters were actual Eatrs, the robot made by DARPA that can consume bodies to fuel itself on the battlefield?

What would have to happen to you for you to become a bad person? What about the reverse process? These are interesting thought experiments. Psychologist Jordan Peterson talks about how useful these can be. It's also an intriguing idea to explore in literary form.

Many stories have been told about self-fulfilling prophecies, where a prediction makes people act in a way that brings about the prediction. It's still a great idea.

Here's a note I left for myself that I don't fully understand: "once and future king, arthur, Community, my IQ, billionaires rise and fall and rise again". I understand it a bit. It's about the fact that so many stories are about being in a good state, losing that good state, and then the struggle to restore the previous good state. Because I have bones pressing on my brainstem I have experienced that struggle with my IQ, that's why that's in there. The tv show "Community" also follows that structure in a sitcom format. King Arthur is that story. A number of billionaires have lost everything, and then made it back again.

Resentment is the murderer's muse. What if we personify it as something like a muse sitting on the shoulder? Creepy!

What if Obscurity was a demon that followed people around and made sure that they weren't noticed?

In a general sense, everyone is seeking the promised land in life. That can take many forms. Sin is missing the mark. I don't know where I'm going with that, but it might be something.

The philosopher and professor Susan Wolf wrote a book titled "Meaning in Life and Why It Matters". I think she comes to some bad and dangerous conclusions in that book. I would like to write a commentary taking apart each piece of it.

One of my most liked articles and speeches ever is about great first lines in fiction. I thought it was an interesting topic, but people were more interested than I thought they would be. It might be fun to write a book going through a bunch of first lines from books that I like, and don't like, and analyzing them.

Since I write and speak about grief, I could probably explore grief in a narrative structure. That might not be fun to write though, so I might not do that.

What if the mark of Cain was like the lives in a video game, and Cain then was able to have seven lives and die seven times? This is for all of his descendants. There could be some odd adventures and psychologies there.

That's less than half of my most recent ideas. I'll cover more next time.

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You can find more of what I'm doing at http://www.JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com

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