Saturday, March 9, 2019

What's the Sitch?

I recently had the opportunity to pitch story ideas to an anthology editor, and I began the part of the short-story-writing process I hate the most. I mean hate.

Coming up with an idea. In this case, a couple ideas.

Sometimes I base a story on something weird I’ve seen out in the world. Sometimes I choose an experience from my past. Often, I combine the two. I keep a list of ideas on a notepad app file on my phone, and I read over it – and over and over and over it – hoping one of the ideas there might suddenly reveal itself as the most brilliant idea for a story ever conceived in the history of the human race.

Sometimes – a lot of times, actually – I make lists. I’m not sure why this helps me think, but it does. But this time when I started making a list of potential story ideas, it quickly morphed into a list of general story types and situations. I figured what the hell and continued writing the list to see where it would lead, and somewhere along the way it occurred to me that my creative writing students might find such a list useful for generating story ideas. And my next thought was maybe I should post the list on my blog for any other writers who might find it useful.

There’s no order to the list, no rhyme or reason, and it’s certainly not complete. Feel free to copy it, pass it around to others, and add to it. And if you would like to make suggestions for additional items in the comments, I’ll add them to the list.

So, here it be:

·         Missing child/family member/friend
·         Lost love, obsessive love
·         Robbery
·         Salvage
·         Hiding from past, trying to forget past
·         Childhood bogeyman, childhood fears
·         Abusive parent, spouse, lover, friend – physical, emotional, sexual
·         Seeking revenge or justice
·         Trying to escape (physical place or situation)
·         Murder/assassination
·         Seeking boon from powerful force
·         Seeking to end one’s life
·         Dying of illness, other dying of illness
·         Sick, wounded, disabled
·         Contracting disease, fighting it, one person or group
·         Hiding secret, trying to uncover secret
·         Confronting past, escaping past
·         Trying to remember, trying to forget
·         Seeking to atone, seeking to condemn
·         Helping another, hurting another
·         Trying to start a business/run a business/save a business
·         Trying to save someone physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually
·         Trying to have a child
·         Seeking peace, seeking war
·         Negotiating
·         Trying to find something, trying to get rid of something
·         Trying to find identity, a community, a home, a place
·         Seeking to understand
·         Seeking to deceive
·         Seeking to overcome evil, seeking to spread evil
·         Seeking power, domination, control, seeking to escape power, domination, control
·         Creating chaos/establishing order/reestablishing order
·         Seeking riches, losing riches
·         Serving a higher power, seeking a higher power to serve
·         Seeking truth, concealing truth
·         Protecting a secret, uncovering a secret
·         Addiction
·         Illness: seeking health or relief, causing illness.
·         Exploring
·         Establishing law, abolishing law, destroying law
·         Preserving culture/tradition, changing it, disrupting it, destroying it
·         Quest
·         Protecting others, harming others
·         Survival, self-preservation
·         Settling a new place/taming environment
·         Enslaving, freeing
·         Reconciliation
·         Seeking advancement, growth, evolution, enlightenment, apotheosis
·         Seeking to remember, seeking to forget
·         Seeking to obtain, seeking to get rid of
·         Creating, destroying
·         Seeking knowledge, forbidden knowledge, imparting knowledge
·         Seeking artistic expression, censoring
·         Persecuting others
·         Earning a living
·         Being an outcast, wanting in a group, wanting out of a group
·         Protesting, supporting
·         Practicing religion, escaping religion
·         Colonizing, repelling colonizers
·         Seeking to entertain, seeking to repel or repulse, seeking to shock
·         Seeking approval
·         Seeking allies
·         Establishing/destabilizing/abolishing government
·         Preserving the past, breaking with the past
·         Revelation of something wonderful, revelation of something awful, realization of a profound or terrible insight
·         Trying to get home, leaving home
·         Facing the end of the world
·         Invasion
·         Espionage/intelligence gathering
·         Celebration, ceremony, memorial, anniversary
·         Entrapment, imprisonment, escape, seeking freedom for self or others
·         Making things the way they once were, making things new
·         Fulfilling an obligation, escaping obligation
·         Trying to determine what’s real
·         Seeking to overcome fear
·         Testing one’s self
·         Raising children, establishing a family
·         Feud, estrangement, reconciliation
·         Seeking love
·         Seeking sexual fulfillment
·         Facing the end of life
·         Facing disgrace, reestablishing honor
·         Exile, isolation, lost, stranded
·         Rescue
·         Hunting
·         Competition
·         Becoming leader, conspiring against leader, overthrowing leader, killing leader
·         Dealing with disaster, dealing with death
·         Death of loved one
·         Seeking renewal
·         Seeking fame, seeking power
·         Manipulating individual or group
·         Seeking sanity, seeking to drive someone mad
·         Starting relationship, ending relationship
·         Getting married, getting divorced
·         Starting school, graduating
·         Entering military, leaving military
·         Moving, changing locations, changing homes, changing jobs
·         Seeking a job, losing a job
·         Building, tearing down
·         Leave-taking, reunion
·         Transformation
·         Changing history, preserving history, concealing history
·         Finding one’s purpose
·         Seeking meaning
·         Rejecting civilization, living in the wild, back to nature
·         Going into hiding
·         Becoming involved in a scandal, being disgraced
·         Delivering something of vital importance
·         Purposefully or accidentally breaking a taboo
·         Dealing with trauma


Out Now!

My new creature-feature novel Blood Island was recently released from Severed Press. Blood Island isn’t a sequel to my previous novel The Teeth of the Sea, but they take place in the same world and there’s a bit of overlap. Here’s synopsis
The Mass, an island-sized creature formed entirely of mutated blood cells, has drifted across the world’s oceans for millions of years. It uses sharks – the most efficient predators the planet has ever produced – as extensions of itself to gather food. For the most part, the Mass and its Hunters have avoided contact with the human race, but now it’s entered the waters off Bridgewater, Texas, where a film crew is busy shooting a low-budget horror film called Devourer of the Deep. The Mass is about to discover something called human imagination, and the humans are about to learn that battling a monster in real life is a little harder than fighting one on screen.

Coming Soon

I’ve got a couple other books available for pre-order.

My next horror novel for Flame Tree Press, They Kill, is due out in July. It’s also not a direct sequel to any book, but it does take place in the same universe as much of my horror fiction, including my previous Flame Tree release The Mouth of the Dark. Here’s a synopsis:

What are you willing to do, what are you willing to become, to save someone you love? Sierra Sowell’s dead brother Jeffrey is resurrected by a mysterious man known only as Corliss. Corliss also transforms four people in Sierra’s life into inhuman monsters determined to kill her. Sierra and Jeffrey’s boyfriend Marc work to discover the reason for her brother’s return to life while struggling to survive attacks by this monstrous quartet. Corliss gives Sierra a chance to make Jeffrey’s resurrection permanent – if she makes a dreadful bargain. Can she do what it will take to save her brother, no matter how much blood is shed along the way?

My latest tie-in novel, Supernatural: Children of Anubis, is due out in April.
Sam and Dean travel to Indiana, to investigate a murder that could be the work of a werewolf. But they soon discover that werewolves aren't the only things going bump in the night. The town is also home to a pack of jakkals who worship the god Anubis: carrion-eating scavengers who hate werewolves. With the help of Garth, the Winchester brothers must stop the werewolf-jakkal turf war before it engulfs the town - and before the god Anubis is awakened...

That’s it for now. Keep writing!