Writing Excuses Master Class: Where do you get your ideas?

A while ago now, I obsessively listened to Writing Excuses, a podcast about writing (specifically genre) fiction hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Taylor and Mary Robinette Kowal, along with various special guests. I listened to so many of these, in fact, that I was listening rather than writing and so overwhelmed with information that I thought my head might burst.

Anyway, I started again today and thought it might be neat to actually work through Season 10’s “Master Class” exercises, and let me see where that lead me to. Here is the exercise from the first episode, entitled: seriously, where do you get your ideas?

Exercise #1: Write down five different story ideas in 150 words or less.
Generate these ideas from these five sources:

  1. From a piece of music (with or without lyrics)
    • A love story, tragic-comedy style, in which the protagonist accidentally kills a mugger, only to meet and fall in love with the mugger’s widow. As he becomes drawing deeper into the relationship, the web of lies thickens… he never can tell her what he’s done – but could it be that she already knows? And perhaps has more than passion on her mind?
      • (Song was “Never Can Tell” by Banshee Reel)
  2. From a piece of media (watch a movie)
    • A science fiction in which reincarnation is obtained by the transplanting of human brains into animal bodies, creating what is, essentially, a number of uplifted animals. There are two ways the story could go: the animals could revolt and destroy the humans, or the uplifted animals could be used to get a better understanding/improve the survive of their wild kin (ala. The Wild by Whitley Strieber)
      • (Not going to say what piece of media inspired this :))
  3. From observation (go for a walk!)
    • “They hunt in packs”: Groups of teenagers roam the urban malls and streets, communicating using loud, obnoxious vocalisations.
      • Not quite sure how the plot of that could go… Maybe the protagonist is a zoology-nerd, who is somehow dragged into this “gang”? Or perhaps, she is being hunted by them?
  4. From research you’ve done (reading science news, military history, etc)
    • 100 years in the future, and the elite of mankind have departed the Earth, destined for a new colony somewhere far off in space. They took the intellectuals, the inventors… but what happens to the people they left behind? A gritty survival story set in a devastated and abandoned Earth: pillaged of resources and ruled by anarchy.
      • Yeh… this has been done a dozen times – or more! – already. What’s a new, fresh take I can make on it?
  5. From an interview or conversation you’ve had
    • To come…

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