World Enough and Time: Story Ideas to the Wind

I write quickly if not well. Unfortunately, my mind works even faster than my fingers, so I fill up my computer desktop with more ideas than I’ll ever get to write about. When F. Scot Fitzgerald died, his notebooks contained story bits and pieces that he’d never finish. I don’t have any plans to die—in fact, I think it’s bad luck to accept death’s inevitability—but I recognize this backlog of ideas is simply going to grow and grow until, like The Blob, it’s taken over my entire world. To prevent that, I’m setting free these seeds, hoping some other writer can water them, prune them and turn them into Diet-Coke-bearing trees. If so, please send me a case.


Fifteen Story/Novel/Poem/Essay Ideas


  1. A mirror with a memory. This wall mirror, located in a back bedroom, has a memory of everything that it’s seen.  Unclear whether it’s conscious or not.  Accessed through concentration (like the I ching or tarot?)


  1. Life in a group home for troubled teenagers. Narrator is a staff member who misunderstands most of what he sees/hears among his charges.  An unwittingly unreliable narrator (e.g., The Story of the Dog in the Night).


  1. The difficulties of incorporating technology into contemporary fiction. That is, the novelist writing in 1963, say, may not have seen the advent of touchtone phones, refrigerator ice makers, or black-and-white TV, but technology didn’t change the form/function/TASTE of communication for cripes sake!


  1. Related—why did voice telephones last for 80 years before the advent of texting. How would the world/people/I be different if VOICE were the groundbreaking new technology?  And what about video—does anyone who doesn’t live far away from grandchildren care about video chatting?


  1. An interrelated series of stories about the same event but told by different families on Beards Landing


  1. Escaping to Canada across the New England border, escaping the fascism that never came. Subtheme—difference between political dissidence and mental illness


  1. A pill that makes farts colorful, so no one can deny having passed gas. (Credit to five-year-old Libby, who was regularly accused by her sisters of being gaseous in the car.)


  1. A first-person account of the Oyster River Massacre.


  1. An examination of the opening lines of my favorite novels. Closing lines.  Correlations between.


  1. What are basic human rights?


  1. A satirical scholarly essay on ghosts. Do animals have ghosts? How long do ghosts haunt a particular place?  Where do ghosts go when they die?  Are there ghosts of ghosts?


  1. A life lived with the lyrics of Alice Cooper (or Three Dog Night or Ani DiFranco or name your favorite) as one’s moral compass.


  1. A straight man trying to turn bisexual.


  1. The stories of each of the graves in the little graveyard at the end of Woodman Avenue.


  1. The difficulties of having a dog die, especially when you won’t bury it or burn it or even stuff it, but continue to drag its corpse around with you.

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