In a previous post–Seeds of creativity–I said ideas are never a big problem for writers and creative people in general.
But given that each one of us is unique in her way of thinking and looking at the world, in her way of understanding how things work, and in pretty much everything else, from time to time this uniqueness can also feel a bit suffocating. In fact, we tend to come up with ideas that feel like Xeroxed copies of previous ones we already wrote about.
For example, if you are someone who feels strongly about hierarchies and power in corporate America you might find it difficult to come up with ideas where this subject isn’t prominently examined.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, you can write a lot about such a vast subject and setting.
But at times you may end up hungering for something different, and yet find it difficult to engineer a radical change of direction.
That’s normal. Because habits haven’t to do only with vice and dissolution. Habits are just the way our brain has trained itself to operate in order to save as much energy as possible.
As a result, a list of prompts coming from the outside, from someone whose mindset is most likely quite different from your own, can be an easy and yet refreshing way to steer your writing into new territory.
After all, as Robert Frost said, No surprise for the writer no surprise for the reader.
Horror story ideas
1 The New Girl
You’re blind. When you go to the hairstylist as you usually do every week, the new girl washes your hair.
As soon as she touches your head you begin to see. At first you’re disoriented. Because you don’t know how to interpret what you see. But then you realize you are seeing the world through her eyes.
2 The Hidden Places
At her grandparent’s house, in the attic, there are hundred of cardboard boxes filled with old magazines, forgotten toys, and junk.
Kallie is an architect with a strong sense of proportion and spatial disposition, and as soon as she enters the attic she feels overpowered and dizzy.
Little by little she discovers that the arrangement of the boxes mimics the layout of the small backwater town her grandparents lived.
Little by little she discovers that when she opens a box she finds an article or something about the story of the corresponding building.
3 The Rotting Saints
Erik wanted to discover what it really is the deep web. So he took a course and now he is ready.
But the copy of the browser he is using shows him pages that don’t look like they are from any reality we can find here in this universe.
4 Musical maps
Tommy looks like he is just thirty years old. Yet he works seventy hours a week seven days out of seven. He has a wife and two daughters. A lover and a few hobbies. Yet, he seems always to find time for everything.
That’s because on Sunday at seven o clock when he comes back from work he puts on his preferred CD and goes for a drive, alone.
The CD is magic, or sort of. When he listen to it he is transported into a fold of space and time where he lives for a whole month a perfect vacation of his own choosing.
This is his secret.
Then one day he discovers the CD is gone.
5 My names’s Charity
Norman is a rich man. He goes to church every day, very early in the morning. In the church there are few people. Mostly, old women sitting in the front pews.
Unseen, when he dips his hand in the holy water font he always manages to pick up from the bottom a few coins.
It’s just a matter of a couple of dollars or so, he tells himself. But he feels good doing so. After all there’s nothing better than starting out the day with some tax-free earnings.
Then one morning when the church is empty he ends up collecting all the money he can find. Then he hears some noises. He turns and sees the wooden Christ detaching himself from the cross.
Jason wants a beer. If only he could have one, he is sure he would feel much better.
But there’s none in the fridge. So he decides to go to the supermarket and buy some. The only problem is he is lying in his bed and he can’t get up and walk away. He is in a coma.
Horror story prompts–do they work?
The answer is simple and yet terrifying– of course, given we are speaking of horror stories =)
Prompts work if you work on them. It’s just as simple as that. In writing everything can work. But to make it really effective you have to put in a lot of blood and sweat. Your blood and sweat. Only in that way a story becomes your story. And then, hopefully, everyone’s story.