Archive for story ideas

5 Sci-Fi Writing Prompts Inspired by The Brainstormer App

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , on September 16, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Brainstormer App

As writers, we’re always on the lookout for new story ideas. While it might seem like it at times, there is never going to be a shortage of new story ideas. Ideas can be gleaned from several places – our own lives, books, movies, the news, and nowadays, online. One place I get ideas form is an app called The Brainstormer. The app has three wheels that you spin, and your writing prompt is whatever three areas the wheel lands. The following writing prompts are from The Brainstomer app and have been turned into a Sci-Fi theme.

  1. Unconditional love, Cuban, artist’s studio – This doesn’t sound sci-fi-ish, but consider this: Luisa, the artistic daughter of a famous Cuban scientist, is drawing her dog when she notices something different about him. After some bazaar occurrences that seem centered around her dog, Luisa discovers her father has genetically modified the dog. She loves this dog, who now has superpowers that have gotten out of control, and must find a way to save him.
  2. Rescue of a loved one, naval, kitchen – The alien slave, Kaputch, was quite happy with his life on board the Grupakian space vessel. As a cook, he was very well treated, especially as compared to the other slaves. But when the Grupaks take in more slaves, Kaputch discovers one of them is his sister. Worse, though, he finds out she is to be the sex-slave of the overly fat and disgusting Grupak captain. Somehow, Kaptuch must rescue her from that fate.
  3. Fish out of water, Tibetan, puppet – The year is 2230. The world is dying so the people of Earth have boarded several large space ships in search of a new home. One particular ship houses a hundred or so Tibetan families. Passang is given command of this ship. Once the ship takes off and their space adventure begins, Passang realizes space-life is not what he thought it would be. He’s not prepared to be a leader and soon finds himself as nothing more than a puppet ruler dominated by one of the leading Tibetan families. This dominant family is only interested in their own well-being, and as such, the other people soon find themselves being treated like slaves. Passang must find the confidence and the strength to overpower this family so that he can save his people, and his ship, from their selfish meddling.
  4. Miracle, Klondike, gas station – Life in the Klondike is beautiful, yet cold and unforgiving. Skookum, named from a famous Tagish man who had helped spur the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1890s, owns a gas station there (the Tagish are a native tribe). Skookum owns a gas station in the area. It’s a rather isolated place, but he gets enough business to survive. Something happens that causes Skookum to nearly die. His death is certain and he prepares for it mentally. But a miracle happens. Little grey beings rescue and heal him (seemingly with magic though they claim it’s science). Skookum wonders whether they are aliens or if they’d always been here.
  5. Mistaken judgement, undead, fruit stand – Salina managed a fruit stand along the highway. Business was slow in this heat. Suddenly, though, a string of cars drove past. At first, they zipped by quickly. But soon, there were so many cars on the road that traffic came at a standstill. Salina was finally able to ask someone what was going on and they told her to run because of the zombie apocalypse. Now Salina had seen enough zombie movies to know they were the undead, they liked to eat the brains or livers of the living, and that they could only be killed if their heads were chopped off. But there was nowhere she could go. When they finally reached her, she realized they weren’t what she thought they’d be. They were just people who needed help. And for some reason, Salina was the perfect person to give them that help. Perhaps they wanted fruit instead of brains?

Let’s see what creative story ideas you can come up with using the Brainstormer App.

Building the Storyline to my Fantasy Novel

Posted in Other Stories, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2014 by Dawn Ross
Guardian of Destiny

The Guardian of Destiny by Dawn Ross (work in progress)

Last week I talked about how I came up with the character for my new fantasy novel, “The Guardian of Destiny”. Now let me tell you how I came up with the other characters and with the story itself.

Although I daydreamed Galavan’s childhood, this was not the story I wanted to write. I wanted an adult hero. So despite having his childhood in my head, not much of that childhood will be written in “The Guardian of Destiny”. I needed story ideas. This is where I could have perused through my journal or did some creative writing exercises. But I don’t think that is what I did to come up with this storyline. In fact, I don’t really remember where I got the idea from. I do know this:

I’ve noticed a trend with the characters in my daydreams. I’ve always developed my characters from childhood. It helps me define who they are as adults. It gives me their backstory and their motivations. So I knew I wanted a child in this book. What if instead of a boy, like Tomis in my Dukarian Legacy series, it was a girl? And what if she was half god? I think I got the idea of half-god from watching “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys“. Such a child would have extraordinary skills. But as a child, she would be vulnerable and she would need guidance. She would need a guardian.

Hercules The Legendary Journeys

Hercules and Iolaus from “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” TV series, starring Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hurst.

There it was! Galavan would be the hero and the guardian of this girl-child half-god. And “The Guardian of Destiny” would be the title of the book. The title alone inspired the rest of the tale.

Now I had the hero and some of the supporting characters. Who is my antagonist? What is the setting? And most importantly, what is the plot?

Supporting Animal Characters
I was watching an old favorite movie, “The Beastmaster”, and thought it would be great if my character could communicate to animals somehow. I love animals and it sometimes surprises me on how much characters in fantasy novels take animals for granted. Horses are overworked. They perform amazing feats by doing whatever their rider says and carrying their riders wherever they want to go no matter how far or how fast. This is wholly unrealistic. Horses have personalities. They won’t always do what you want them to. And they can’t carry a rider forever. That is where I came up with the idea for Brute, a big flea-bitten gray warhorse with attitude and yet devotion to his master.

Flea Bitten Horse with Armor

Please forgive my photoshop skills. I copied and pasted horse armor onto a flea bitten gray horse.

After some deliberation, I decided there was another animal that could be of use to a soldier. A falcon would be great at scouting surrounding territory. A falcon could see an enemy before they arrive and could alert to dangers ahead. Such a creature would be very beneficial to a soldier who was able communicate with animals.

White Falcon

Wouldnt this falcon make a great assistant to a soldier who needs to scout ahead for the enemy?

The Setting
It’s not enough to know my character is a soldier. I needed to know what he was a soldier for and why. Was he a simple castle guard? Did he work for a particular lord? Was he a soldier for a religious sect? Did he defend against a particular enemy? Did he defend a border or territory? I eventually settled on a soldier guarding a border. The need to defend a border meant there were enemies to protect it from, and therefore, antagonists.

Developing the Antagonist
If one of my heroes is a half-god, then it would stand to reason that her enemy is either another half-god, or even a god. Biblical stories came to mind where fallen angels came to live on earth amongst men. The angels were envious of the lives of mankind. We appeared to be free to do whatever we wanted whereas they were directly subservient to God. And this is where I developed Dorovan. He is the son of a god that had chosen to live among men because he disagreed with his father and craved worship and domination.

Enchanting Dark Fantasy Digitalart by Ramses Melendeze

Enchanting Dark Fantasy Digitalart by Ramses Melendeze – Copied from http://hangaroundtheweb.com/2012/07/enchanting-dark-fantasy-digitalart-by-ramses-melendeze/ Bing free to share and use.

Developing the Plot
It seems now, that I have everything I need to write a story… that is, everything but a plot. If I have a hero who protects a half-god child from a full god/fallen angel, I need to consider how this child is a threat to a god. I needed to consider the god himself, too, the extent of his powers and his motivations.

How can a half-god be a threat to a full god? What could possibly limit a full god from being able to completely annihilate a mere mortal and half-breed with just the force of his will? Obviously, Dorovan had to have limitations. By choosing to live among mortals, he lost some, but not all, of his godly power. His motivation is that he wants his power back while at the same time keeping his status on earth as a corporeal being. Somehow this half-god child, I named her Adella, is the key to his ambitions.

Child Woman Silhouette

This girl-child half-god needs a guardian in order to help her survive while she learns to control her enormous powers.

Continuing to daydream on the plot, I finally developed the story in full. My journal and writing exercises played a key part in coming up with more ideas for this story, as did external stimuli of movies, books, and music. More characters came into the story and the setting came alive. The plot developed and stabilized. I’m not going to tell you that now. You will just have to wait to read the book. Perhaps I will share parts of the story with you later.

The Idea for The Guardian of Destiny – Part I

Posted in Other Stories, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2014 by Dawn Ross
Guardian of Destiny

The Guardian of Destiny by Dawn Ross (work in progress)

In my previous two posts, I gave you tips on ways you can come up with your own story ideas and tips on how you can create your own fantasy world. Now, I’m going to tell you how I implemented my own advice to come up with the story for my novel-in -progress, “The Guardian of Destiny”.

How My Character Came to Be

I was daydreaming as usual. I realized I kept daydreaming the same characters from The Dukarian Legacy and was getting bored with them. I needed a new inspiration and a new story. It was about the time the movies for the Lord of The Rings had come out. I’ve always loved J.R.R. Tolkien and his stories on Middle Earth. So it is not surprising to know I watched the movies with great fascination. No, I didn’t dress up and wait in line in the middle of the night just to see the first showings. But I would have if I had the money for a costume and a friend with the same passion.

One of my favorite characters was Eomer of Rohan. “I would cut of your head, Dwarf, if it stood but a bit higher from the ground.” “I do not doubt his heart, only the reach of his arm.” *swoon* Seeing him, I knew he was going to me the person I pictured as the hero in my next book. Incidentally, I also remembered Karl Urban from the television series, “Xena” where he played Cupid and Julius Caesar.

Karl Urban - Eomer de Lord Of The Rings trilogy

Karl Urban as Eomer in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

Karl Urban Caesar

Karl Urban as Caesar in Xena the Worrior Princess series.

karl-urban-in-xena-warrior-princess

Karl Urban as Cupid in Xena the Warrior Princess series.

Developing My Character and His Story

Now that I had an image of a person in my head, I needed to develop his character. I did not use Eomer’s character. I wanted one all my own. Without having an actual story in mind, I daydreamed this character from his childhood. I knew I wanted him to be an elite soldier with humble beginnings, so how does such a lowly child come to be such a soldier? What if he was born into the military somehow? His mom was a camp follower. His father is unknown but can be guessed.

Only two things could give a soldier a high rank… being born into nobility (easy to move up) or having exceptional skill (difficult to move up). Since my character had humble beginnings, only his skill could exalt him. I love it when heroes rise above adversity to become something better. So what were his skills and how did they end up being noticed? I daydreamed my character’s childhood, from his upbringing in a soldier camp, to his love for his mother, to his desire to be recognized by his supposed father, and to his adversaries who did not think it was right for a bastard to be anything more than a camp servant.

Naming My Character

In the process of developing my character, I had to give him a name. I don’t remember how, but I thought of the name Galavan. Perhaps because it reminded me of the phrase ‘gallivanting around’. Although I do not intend for my character to be the kind to ‘gallivant’, the name stuck. And once a name sticks to a certain character, it is difficult for me to change it.

Writing Exercises for Motivation

Posted in Writing with tags , , , on December 1, 2012 by Dawn Ross

Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide from New York's Acclaimed Creative Writing School

Now that I am done with school until the spring semester in January, I feel like I have more time for my writing. I am self-studying now and reading a book called “Writing Fiction” from the Gotham Writer’s Workshop. I just read chapter 1 and have completed most of the writing exercises in that chapter. One of the writing exercises is on finding writing motivations.

“Writing Fiction” says that story ideas can come from anywhere and everywhere. You just have to look. The exercise says to draw story ideas from things that happened to me over the past week or so. Thing such as people, emotions, thoughts, or situations can count. It can be big things or small things. The exercise says to write down 10 things so here is what I came up with:

1. We took a road trip which ended up taking us 3 hours longer than it should have. Traffic was awful. The trip was boring. I wished I could read in the car.
2. We bought a new (used) car and are now trying to sell our really crappy car.
3. I got in touch with an old friend on Facebook.
4. I am working hard at trying to revive my online business which was really hurt by the Google Panda update.
5. We saw my family for Thanksgiving.
6. I completed a work of art, drawing a friend’s beloved dog.
7. I finished the fall semester early because it is an online course and I can work at my own pace. Yay! I’m free!!!
8. I talked to an SEO telemarketer yesterday. I HATE telemarketers and so lost my temper.
9. I helped sell dog calendars to benefit the Lawrence Humane Society and Lawrence Community shelter for two hours in Downtown Lawrence and saw a lot of interesting people. One thing which bugged me was a woman who was promoting her dog training and had a Dachshund dog with both a pinch collar and shock collar. I train dogs and don’t use either harsh methods, especially not on a little dog.
10. I finished watching all the Farscape episodes. Loved it, especially the ending.

Once I write down 10 things, the exercise from “Writing Fiction” says some of these might inspire a story idea. And they are right. Several ideas blossomed in my head. I think the first one is the best idea for a story. My road trip was boring but with a bit of imagination, I could invent a story where all sorts of things happen on this long road trip. Perhaps when we got stuck in traffic we could take a detour which led us to this strange small town. Although it was a small town, the people were odd. I couldn’t quite pinpoint it at first. But after stopping for gas and speaking with the store clerk, we learned a lot more about this interesting little town and what was wrong with its people. See where I’m going with that? Perhaps later I will expand on this story idea some more.

I think something could come of the 5th one too. We had a normal Thanksgiving but imagine how some family dynamics could really get out of hand. I could write an emotional short story from my 6th and 8th one too. The 8th one reminds me of when I answered the phone as “Lucy Loucious Whore House” once. It was hilarious! And imagine a short story or poem where it starts out simple and boring. Then little lines on the paper come to life. Colors combine to bring warmth and excitement. The story progresses, as does the artwork, and ends with an overwhelming feeling of fulfillment and joy… just like how it feels when you finally finish that book you’ve been writing. 🙂

The 9th and 10th ones didn’t come out so much as story ideas but as ideas for blog posts. The 9th one inspires a dog training article on my American Dog Blog while the 10th one can be a sci-fi review on this blog. If none of you have ever seen Farscape, most of it is available on Netflix right now and I highly recommend it. I love Ben Browder’s character, John Crichton. Bed Browder has also been on an episode of Dr. Who and Chuck! And he has been on several episodes of Stargate SG1. (I can’t wait for SG1 to come back on Netflix.)

Anyway, I will get back to that review later. For now, try out this exercise for yourself. It sounds like it could be especially helpful if you are in a writing slump. And check out this great book, “Writing Fiction” from the Gotham Writers’ Workshop. I’ve only gotten through chapter 1 so far but I plan on reading more, doing more writing exercises, and sharing with you.