Writer’s Life: Who Needs Story Ideas When You’ve Got Weird Friends?

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Jan 4, 2011 in Writer's Life |

Photo by Quinn Mattingly, Creative Commons

I think I’ve just figured out the secret to generating interesting story ideas: If one warped imagination is good, then four are better! I got started on my first short story of 2011 today. I went to my usual wikipedia random articles to get some word prompts and came up with:

Fungi (sometimes I wonder if wikipedia is my soul mate)
Ultimate Fighting
Extra Time

At my usual coffee shop meetup, I was scratching my head about how I was going to put all of these prompts together into an interesting story, but then I realized the answer was sitting right in front of me. I tasked my small group of writer friends to figure out what I should do with these words.

A beautiful brainstorm session happened, and then Emily came up with a premise of communication by foot fungus, and it sort of just spiraled out from there. Bolivian mountains became the setting, and who better to carry a message via foot fungus than an athlete, specifically an Ultimate Fighter? Of course, this message must be of high importance to require such an odd mode of delivery…and what could be more important than the secret of Extra Time here on Earth, or in other words, Immortality. So in about less than three minutes, I had an absurd story idea without putting in any brain power of my own, and all I have to do in exchange is give them a shout out.

Oh yeah, and actually write the story and stuff.

But in any case, Emily, Marta, and Bart…you are much appreciated, and from now on, whenever I think of foot fungus, I’ll think of you.



Jan 5, 2011 at 3:55 am

Foot fungus…. encoded messages in the DNA of the spores… kinds like futuristic micro-dots!

Nicky Drayden
Jan 5, 2011 at 8:03 am

lol. Now all I need is a really bad pun for the title.

Jan 5, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Always glad to be weird to help out a friend. That may be the only way I can, in fact, be helpful. Can’t wait to hear what you’ve got next week. It started with innocent foot fungus, and then…

Jan 5, 2011 at 6:02 pm

A Foot in Time Saves Nine?

John Murphy
Jan 6, 2011 at 8:55 am

That’s an awesome way to get word prompts! Do you have any rules for excluding results (for example, when I tried this just now, I got two people, one of whom is still alive)?

Nicky Drayden
Jan 6, 2011 at 9:49 am

I try to take what it gives me, but sometimes if the subject is not clicking, I’ll scan the article and see if there are words within that are interesting. For example, Extra time came from some hockey article I think, and I didn’t want to go with hockey since I already had Ultimate Fighting to work with. If nothing clicks with me, or it’s just one of those articles that’s a paragraph long, I’ll skip to the next, but I try not to do it too much.

In your case, I might have taken the person’s profession or something. Good luck with it!



Copyright © 2018 Diary of a Short Woman. All Rights Reserved.