I used to bump into writers occasionally at parties and become seized with the urge to share my awesome story ideas with them. I’d get between them and the punch bowl, and then lay out my Moby Dick sequel. They’d make noncommital but vaguely positive noises in response, and I’d feel like I had written the Great American Novel.
The problem was, parties were infrequent and I was this continual fountain of amazing plots with no outlet (obvs wasn't going to write a novel myself lol). I solved this problem by accident when I started dating a writer. Now I had someone to share my LEET ideas with all the time, and it was much less socially acceptable for her to go to the bathroom and then never come back.
The same social contract that makes it rude to pretend to die in the middle of my stories also allows for an honest evaluation of their merits. So now instead of lukewarm platitudes, I have to hear my girlfriend say that I’m not always perfect and great :(((
Here are the last ten story ideas my girlfriend politely listened to and then unfairly refused to write for me:
- Charles Parrault translated German fairy tales for the French court, famously sanding off the rough edges and covering up the nasty bits of some very weird and very old folklore. Disney mainly seems to have sampled from his bowdlerized versions of such beloved tales as "Two Kids Went Into the Woods and Terrible Things Then Happened, So Never Go Into the Woods." In my modern retelling, Charles Perrault is travelling to Germany to hear some folktales, but it turns out all those story are true! (Like woah man, right??). And those totally awful hopped-up German fairytale creatures just know he’s going to Disnify their stories, so they MESS HIM UP!!
- Conversely, children's stories these days are soft and sweet and nice and oh don't cry Lil Zephyr your dear teacher Ms. Frizzle will save the day if you spill your Skrillex mechajuicebox or if your vape runs out of Nintendo glitch-gravy flavored smoke. Let's dredge up some of that Karl Jung, H.R. Giger, M.C. Escher goodness for a children's book about why you should never, ever use voice chat in an FPS.
- A coming of age tale about the burgeoning environmental consciousness of a rural kid. Growing up far from the big city, you recognized yourself in the daring and hip protagonist of SkiFree. As you leave home and attend a quirky liberal arts college, you begin to see the Yeti as this total, like, personification of nature and recontextualize the earlier paragraphs of your essay in terms of coming to grips with the scarcity of Earth's resources and our need to remake space for plants and animals to grow by chasing bourgeois skiers down hills.
- A metatextual, fourth-wall breaking, writerly story about a brooding author who spends most of his time in bars kind of winking at the camera, so to speak, and slowly accumulating a list of sexual conquests which mainly serve to highlight how alone we really are. Oh and did I mention he's also a robot from the future? Whaaat? I know, right?!
- Young adult fiction has hit a gold mine with the formula "paranormal creature + ang$ty juvenile romance." Take something scary, tweak it until the youths might want to kiss all up on it, and rake in those spooky, sparkly megabucks. You've got your Harry Potter witches, Twilight vampires, and Generation Dead zombies, but stories outside of traditional horror have so far been spared. Get in on the ground floor and think of the untapped Southwestern demos you could reach with: Sexy Teen Chupacabras.
- Sexy Teen Chupacabras 2.
- A dystopic scifi thriller, about a near future where you wake up one day and no one has heard of the brands you like. With nothing to talk about and no more great content to engage with on Medium, society breaks down or rediscovers some kind of salt of the earth 50s utopia where everyone really talks again or tenderly reassembles the SkyMall catalog from memory because cyclical history bro or trails off in some 10-page Alfred Bester, acid-trip ending.
- A Choose Your Own Adventure novel for children without siblings to play with on long summers home from their fog-laden British public schools. The Only Child’s Book of Tic-Tac-Toe (Volumes X and O, natch) would simulate playing against a perfect opponent, and leave one player’s moves up to the reader. You could only lose or tie in these games, so the end text could have this Edward Gorey vibe going, giving the little chaps a hard time, suggesting their parents didn’t love them because they bought them this game etc. TODO: research if fog-laden British public schools are still a thing.
- So it's winter in St. Petersburg, and there's this young couple simultaneously chafing under societal constraints and also kind of eager for their pre-arranged lives to begin. They each have an extended family, and everyone has like three different names whose use depends on the audience and social situation, and there are various dances and a revolution looming over the horizon, and no one seems to get a good night's sleep amidst a series of lengthy conversations about truth and God and whether serfs might feel pain.
- A big ensemble mystery series, where all the secondary characters from classic whodunits have to team up and solve crimes for Reasons. So like Watson, Hastings, Lugg, and Bunny are all thrown together by Circumstances and must bring a ring of iPod thieves to justice. Heck, if we make them younger and broody we could loop in that teen demo again—call it Sexy Junior Detectives.