For those of you who don’t know (or can’t remember, since it’s been so long), I’ve been doing this ongoing thing where I go through my old story notebooks. Last time, we covered my last semester of classes at BYU; this time, we’ll cover my time in Washington DC, when I was trapped in an internship from hell.
Now, you may be wondering: “why is this guy just giving away his ideas for free?” Well, last week at dinner group, the conversation turned to story ideas, so I pulled out my current story notebook and started going down the list. This quickly turned into a game of “name that tune,” where we managed to show that EVERY SINGLE IDEA had already been done.
And you know what? That’s perfectly okay! There are no original ideas anymore, just new ways of executing them, and maybe a handful of combinations that haven’t yet been tried. The purpose of keeping a story notebook with you at all times isn’t to come up with something new, it’s to keep track of the stuff that really turns you on.
Enough with that. On to the notebook.
In a spacefaring culture, the custom will be for the males to leave the station and depart in search of a wife at another port, either to capture or win over in some way. The women will tend more to running off with the travelers. This preserves genetic diversity.
This is actually something I want to talk about in a longer post. The problem of inbreeding in a space-based society is something that many science fiction authors have wrestled with, from Robert Heinlein to C. J. Cherryh. Their solutions are quite inventive, but while I was in Washington DC working on To Search the Starry Sea (my escapist retreat from a hellish internship), I managed to come up with a few of my own, and used them in Star Wanderers. More on that later.
What if one of the founders was a time traveler, sent on a mission to ensure that the US constitution made it through?
Hehe…in other words: James Madison, Time Traveler. It has a certain ring to it, no?
The human mind is like a congress–so many people at extreme odds, arguing constantly but holding together somehow.
Oh boy. If that were true, the US congress today would be like a paranoid schizophrenic.
A subway haunted by patrons from the past–maybe you will become one when it goes back in time.
Who hasn’t been creeped out by the subway at some point or another? Except the New York subway system is way creepier than the Washington DC Metro–I swear, some of those rats are man-killers.
A magic system where the cost is your unborn children. If you don’t have children within a certain period of time, you die.
Sounds like some of the Arab short stories I’ve read. Families and children are much more important to them than to us in the West.
When the Developed World develops instantaneous transportation devices, it will essentially merge into one super country, while the developing world will be left out. The only sense of distance will be in the developing world, and terrorism will be an issue.
Kind of like Larry Niven meets dependency theory.
A government where the Supreme Court is a super-intelligent robot.
Hopefully this would rid the country of activist judges…or would it??
A character who believes, at his core, that there is no such thing as a genuine surprise, simply a lack of information–and that if we had perfect information, there would be no surprises.
Sounds a lot like the platonic 19th century ideal of a scientist. What with quantum physics and such, there aren’t a whole lot of those left.
There are two kinds of shame: shame from loss of honor, and shame from not following the herd. Don’t mistake the one for the other.
This one isn’t so much a story idea as an observation. I learned a lot in my hellish Washington DC internship, most of which had very little to do with my area of study and everything to do with the less-than-honorable ways in which the world works. And on that note:
____ always felt that the world around him was somehow less than real; an illusion. While staring out the window of the train, he wondered if the window wasn’t just a video screen, like the car windows of old movies–or when looking out at the view of the mountains beyond his house, with the picturesque clouds and too-blue sky, if it wasn’t just an elaborate painting on a wall at the end of the world. In moments like these, ____ longed to peel back the video screens–to break down the pretty painted wall at the end of the world–and see what lay on the other side of reality.
If my hellish internship on K street taught me anything, it taught me that I would rather be a writer than have all the connections or political influence in the world. I got out of Washington DC as fast as I could, and haven’t looked back since.