I got a bit tired of waiting so thought I would share some of the ideas, and some of the ideas about ideas for plots I have come up with or researched. Keep in mind this is a way to get started writing and possibly not the finished product so although some ideas seem 'unoriginal', I figure that me writing something is never going to be the same as someone else writing on the same topic; that a one line synopsis leaves a lot of room for creative expanding away from an original idea; and; that there are only about seven major plots anyway.
One site I was reading suggested looking at IMDb's Top 250 films and picking a film you haven't seen. Then change a couple of things in its synopsis. You have a slightly different story and no preconceptions from the original. For example, there is an upcoming movie called 12 Years a Slave which has a synopsis that reads: In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. You could change it to: In Kiev, translator Anita Belenko, recovering addict from upstate New York, and her ten year old daughter are trying to make a new start, until Anita is abducted and sold into a trafficking scheme in the Middle East.
There is also the 'reality is stranger than fiction' option. 'Just read the paper,' suggested a friend, 'even if it is the Herald Sun. Lots of ideas in there.' That day there was the marlin who landed itself on the fishing boat rather than waiting to be caught, sending the petrified crew overboard into shark infested waters until they realised that the fire was worse than the frying pan. But that's probably not novel fodder seeing as Jaws has already been done, as has Moby Dick. Not sure if there is rooom in the literary world for a whale, a shark and a marlin. There was also the tempting idea of a reported study which states that people who play virtual reality games become desensitised to pain—to themselves and others.
My normal go-to is better for shorter fiction and can hardly be called a plot. It is the OuLiPo-ian: writing with constraints. It was my developing idea of a Creative Writing PhD thesis until I decided that a Literary Studies PhD would be a better resume inclusion (if you actually do one, rather than just thinking about it). This idea is all well and good, but it really only tells you of a method rather than a subject—for example George Perec's A Void, a novel that never uses the letter 'e'—which is amazing once, but it also translated that way! Fine, no 'e's', but what should I write about! (Mark Dunn's Ella Minnow Pea is an exception to this—an amazing OuLiPo plot idea.) I considered writing what I was calling A Time and A Place, where every day I write a short piece that includes the first date and the first location I came across in my day-to-day-ness. For example they may talk about 1963 on the radio and show an ad for Kuala Lumpur on TV. There's my setting. But, like I said, it's not a plot—it's more like trying to find something to write a blog about everyday.
And last of all is the 'what you know' theory. What do I know? Police dispatch? Too legally complicated although there is a lot of material there. An idea came to mind about a suspense thriller while long distance walking—like from Land's End to John O'Groats for example. Throw in a crucible: you're in the middle of nowhere, walking, a survival expert, savvy, sexy and independent, when you meet, very suspiciously, someone who is lost. (I used all the commas Cormac McCarthy used in The Road in that sentence.) You have to help them. But they get odder and odder as you near civilisation. Will you make it? Or, you romantically decide to take your ex-husband, who you married in Vegas and divorced in Reno for a laugh, on your last leg of the trip through the Scottish Highlands. But in all that isolation this reliable and responsible decorated policeman starts to reveal himself as someone completely different and decidedly spooky. Will you make it? And is John O'Groats even the true geographical Northern-most tip of the United Kingdom anyway. But writing about horrible scenarios on a long-distance walk makes me nervous to long-distance walk next year—what if writing it makes it happen?
Save me!!! Give me a plot please. Otherwise I am going to have to go with one of these. And the worst part is that I can't NaNoWriMo and blog at the same time, so your posts for the next month will actually be the novel. If you don't like these ideas, why will you read them? Just kidding. Not about you giving me an idea. Still do that. Stop talking Charlie! Now. No, now.
Who wore it better?
Getting linky today with: