Story Seeds


1) Job Listing: ‘$40K a Year to Attend Harvard University as Me’ (This is a real Craigs List ad mentioned in The Atlantic)

2) It’s rare for me to do this, but:

3) Everyone has done and redone A CHRISTMAS CAROL, but I don’t think anyone has done it found-footage style, like BLAIR WITCH. Give Scrooge Google Glass, and there you go.

4) “[X] IN SPACE!” Heart of Darkness in Space. The Grapes of Wrath in Space. On the Road in Space. Great Expectations in Space.

5) A young scribe is sent to the wizard-king’s kitchens to create a cookbook, and discovers a whole secret world of pantry-spells, strange inhuman suppliers, and possibly a plot against the throne. Actually, I don’t like the plot against the throne, thing. Better if the scribe is just really determined to made a fully-comprehensive codex, even with the most obscure and difficult recipes.

6) The Seven Habits of Highly Cheerful Reapers. It must suck to be so grim all the time. I envision a whole section of the bookstore devoted to helping Reapers be more upbeat and deal with stress.


Story Seeds


1) Dumbledore: “I’d like to welcome our new Defense Against The Dark Arts, teacher, Mary Poppins.” It seems so perfect, doesn’t it? You’d have to file the serial numbers off (or not).

2) “My name is Perry the Platypus, and I used to be a spy.”

3) “My name is Boris Badenov, and I used to be a spy.”

4) In a fantasy city where spells are cast through ritualistic group dance, magic schools vie for power by brawling in the streets. The two most bitter rivals are the Most Holy University of the Shark and the Jet School of the Sacred and Profane, but when a student from each meet on neutral ground and fall in love…

5) Lazarus The Immortal: Raised from the dead two thousand years ago, Lazarus discovers that he can’t die. Fighting crime? Fighting injustice? Fighting wars? He’s done all that. What’s next for a man spurned by death?

6) Here’s your million dollar movie idea: RO-BRO.

7) A rom com with a post-apocalyptic setting (although it might be easier to leave out the “com” part). Actually, I’m sure there’s a whole (minor) subgenre of romance novels for this, sort of LAST OF THE MOHICANS (DD Lewis movie version) in a MAD MAX-style setting.

8 ) A pseudo-Cary Elwes actor announces plans to publish a memoir of the production of a faux-THE PRINCESS BRIDE-type movie, then suddenly goes missing with the manuscript. Murder? Publicity stunt? Something else?

Story Seeds



2) Classically, zombies won’t die except through violent head trauma but their bodies still rot. What if the zombie urge to devour flesh survived the dissolution of the flesh? What if it survived being devoured by scavengers, or worms, or being used as fertilizer. The entire biome would be taken over by the desire to consume all flesh. Oh, wait…

3) Ash Ketchum is… The Punisher! What about a Dark Age Of Comics version of Ash Ketchum, the incredibly talented and optimistic Pokemon trainer, in which terrible personal tragedy turns him–and his pocket monsters–into remorseless vigilantes.

4) A young woman shaves her head and discovers a pirates’ treasure map tattooed to her scalp. — This is the joke movie pitch I entered into a screenplay contest on Twitter. Not only did it advance (while “After a toddler loses a pinkie to a splinter, a vengeful father declares war on unsanded wood” inexplicably did not) but I received a script request from a small but legit company for it.

5) This one is inspired by the old Neverwinter Nights game: what if, every time you looked at someone, the universe/the gods/whoever let you know whether you will have to kill them or not? When I mouse over NPCs in NWN, a little dagger appears over the people I’ll have to fight, and a talking-face icon over the friendlies. But what if that happened in real life?

6) Lord of the Rings as it would have been written by [Author X] (Richard Stark, V.C. Andrews, John Cheever, etc)

7) Why should vampires only subsist on human blood? What about the blood of angels? I’d think that angel blood would sustain the undead for quite a long time, but hunting them would be quite a challenge.

Story Seeds


In case there’s anyone out there who doesn’t know what these seed posts are about, I exorcise ideas I like but will never write by giving them away on my blog. I’m timing these for Newtonmass morning as a special gift for anyone who wants them.

1) Occupy Bon Temps

2) Law & Order: Baldur’s Gate

3) Sometimes when I got to bed, late at night, my wife is already asleep. The room is very, very dark, of course, and I can hear her breathing under the covers but can’t see her. And sometimes when I’m lying there in the darkness, I think: That doesn’t sound like her.


5) Minion crowd-sourcing: Wouldn’t super-villains be sick of building these big bases, stocking them with armed guards (are these guys ever worth their paychecks?), and getting overrun by superheroes? Now that governments are using drone technology, it should be simple for a tech-minded villain to set up a private invite-only game where the players unwittingly operate drones. Co-op play! Rob the bank! Kidnap the mayor’s daughter! Look! A superhero is chasing you, and he’s modeled on one of the city’s *real* heroes! Super-fun battle time!

Of course, eventually the truth would come out and gamers would realize they were doing this stuff for real. The in-setting legal ramifications would be complicated, and there would certainly be new minion volunteers. As awful as it seems, you know there would be plenty of assholes on the internet excited to join a flying machine gun squad to hunt down Spider-man.

6) LORD OF THE FIGHT CLUB: The Dark Lord and his hosts have been destroyed, the elves have sailed into the west, and magic has gone from the world. Humans have peace at last, but now they have all become farmers and merchants. They dress well, work hard, and toil to create wealth. What chance does a warrior have to prove himself now that the final victory has come? What great deeds are left to be done for those with the desperate need to prove themselves?

7) Tolkien’s elves (and in many other iterations) are great lovers of music and the arts. Wood elves, high elves, whatever, they’re always described as singing/playing beautiful, ethereal songs and generally being transcendent.

So how do you think polar elves, the ones who live at the North Pole, feel about “Last Christmas”? or “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth”? or “Wonderful Christmas Time”?

Story Seeds


(Reposting corrected version)

For folks who missed the previous installments of this blog post, I occasionally give away story ideas I will never write. Take whatever you like.

1) A train station built over a cemetery allows ghosts and other living dead to travel far from their usual (limited) haunts.

2) In response to a series of devastatingly powerful storms sent through a mountain pass by an evil wizard lord, a king sends a scout through the pass into enemy territory to find out if an army of pseudo-orcs is massing there, and also to locate the dark lord’s tower so they can stop the storms. But the scout quickly discovers that the storms aren’t supernatural at all, and the pseudo-orcs have been devastated as well. Rather than being relieved by his report, the royals clap him in irons because peace isn’t on their agenda.

3) Two words: “Ghost whale”


5) Vampire dirigibles: Lighter than air creatures who ride the winds and float down to earth to seize Victorian-era humans and drink their blood. As long as they stay ahead of the sunrise, they’re safe. Also, they keep a certain mad scientist and plucky orphaned whiz kid trapped at high altitudes, so he can spend his days fashioning giant brass goggles that let the dirigibles see their prey more easily.

6) A puppet realizes its true nature. It can think, but it can’t act on its own–in fact, its actions have been directing its thoughts. Can it break free and think for itself?

7) You know how lycanthropy spreads via biting? Well what if superpowers–including the urge to dress up in costumes and fight/commit crime–were spread through a punch? A man begins fighting crime in a city, punching the odd petty criminal here and there when he had to, not realizing this turns them into supervillains. The supervillains in turn create more heroes and villains by punching (or blasting) other people. Eventually, powers–and that weird comic-book world view–would spread around the world like a zombie virus.

Story seeds


More stories that I’ll likely never write.

1) Christ died for the sins of humankind, but who will sacrifice himself for the sins of demonkind? Demons need a messiah of their own, someone part divine who has to save all of the damned. I’m not writing this one because I’m not Christian, and the whole messiah thing doesn’t really do it for me.

2) Same as 1) above, but with cats instead of demons.

3) Indiana Jones in the Harry Potter universe. An archaeologist investigating the historical secrets of a world where magic is real. This was my son’s idea (it was a gag to mix the two theme songs) but it would be an interesting challenge to make an “uncovering the real history” story work in a world with a fake history.

4) Another Jesus idea: Too many people are going to hell, and God is annoyed. So, Jesus decides to take an idea from his opposite side and begins arranging deals so people will sell their souls to him. Except he’s not what you’d call a salesman…

5) Two words: Mecha Dracula

6) Did you see the news article about the Facebook invitation to the 16 yo girl’s birthday party that went viral? Two hundred thousand people said they were going to attend. Of course, in the real world, the party was cancelled and the police said they would be patrolling the area to keep creeps away, but what if the party happened anyway? Would it be a murder mystery? A farce? A feel-good story of human connection?

7) I’m not entirely sure about this one, because it’s not a terrible idea, but I don’t know that I’d be able to use it ever: Wizard evangelists. I’ve sometimes heard people say that magic is just someone else’s extinct religion, but what if there was a fantasy world with many different kinds of magic? And what if the adherents of a particular type ventured out to foreign lands to convince the locals to abandon their own traditional magical styles in favor of the traveling wizards’? I think there’s a good story there (hell, maybe a whole anthology), but I’m not necessarily the one to write it.

Tossing story seeds


Here are some story ideas I’ll never write. I’m putting them here because the act of giving them away will ensure they don’t bug me all the damn time.

1) Ma Kent, anti-vax crusader: School nurse discovers that a local anti-vaccination activist is actually trying to hide the fact that her child is a Kryptonian-style alien w/ alien physiology and maybe unbreakable skin. I see this one as a horror story, where the mom seems crazy and over-protective at first, but the protag suddenly realizes the mom is trying to protect everyone else from her kid.

2) Smaug, jewel thief. A tough female police detective investigating a string of puzzling jewel thefts realizes that the thief is actually a dragon in human form, and it’s trying to rebuild its treasure pile. A paranormal romance/procedural, maybe along the lines of Out Of Sight, with Clooney as the dragon.

3) Urban fantasy/courtroom thriller: This is an idea that seems so obvious that I’m sure it’s been done, but I can’t find evidence of it. A courtroom thriller set in a world with standard UF creatures. How will the law change to accomodate the undead? Will non-humans be granted human rights? Alternately, the fantastical elements might be secret–the lawyer for the opposing side might realize that the guy he’s suing is a vampire, or a member of the faerie court, and how do you win against someone who can hypnotize/glamour your witnesses?

4) Serial Resurrectionist: A man who can bring the dead back to life resurrects suicides. I have no idea how to pull this one off without being completely ridiculous and awful, but I keep thinking about it.

5) The haunted lair: Set in a superhero universe, a mastermind-type supervillain brings in a squad of exorcists to put to rest the ghost of a minor superhero/sidekick the villain killed there. The hero doesn’t know he’s dead, and has been interrupting the villain’s work with bombastic speeches and sudden attacks. Of course, once the exorcists’ job is done, they have only the villain’s word that they’ll be set free.

I like this one. I could write it. I just don’t have the time.

6) Peter Parkour, the Spectacular Spider-man. Spider-man agrees to make a parkour video, the sales of which will benefit his favorite charity (isn’t Aunt May working for a shelter right now?) but his jumping around leads him to stumble onto a villain’s hideout, maybe The Vulture. There’s a big fight–caught on video–and SM seems about to lose, but the videographer convinces the villain to pose in better light for the camera and he does, giving Spider-man a chance to clear his head and win the fight.

Too bad I don’t have the rights to this character.

7) God hates killers. Vampires exist, and holy symbols make them burn and scar. But then, holy symbols burn everyone who’s guilty of murder, because God has decided to give the vampire treatment to every killer in the world, living or dead. Homicide detectives routinely spritz suspects with holy water and war vets need to carry a special ID card so TSA personnel don’t brand them every time they try to reenter the country.

And yet, a murder has been committed, and the only possible suspect (she’s even confessed!) can drink holy water like iced tea and handle every crucifix in the precinct house. How can this be?

Meh. It’s an interesting story idea, but too theological for me.