Writing Excuses 10.2: Combine and grow

Inspired by the Writing Excuses podcast 10.2: I Have an Idea; What Do I Do Now?

Writing Prompt: Using last week’s five story ideas (or five new ones):

  • Take two of them and combine them into one story
  • Take one and change the genre underneath it
  • Take one and change the ages and genders of everybody you had in mind for it
  • Take the last one and have a character make the opposite choice

Combine two

Honestly, this was the last one I decided, just taking the two story ideas that I didn’t want to put into one of the other categories. So we’ll take the time travel pileup and fae versus robots and combine them:

In the future, war has erupted between the faery realm and advanced robots. In a last ditch effort to preserve themselves, the fae use their most ancient and dangerous magic: time travel. Fighting back, the robots capture several powerful fae and force them to time travel.

As the war grows worse, collisions begin to occur in time, ripples oscillating between the original timeline and the altered versions. As the ripples get worse, more and more time travellers are pulled in, further worsening the problem.

At the core of the worst pile up? Hitler. Why? He was fae. Or a robot. :)

That actually meshed together surprisingly well. It would certainly be an interesting story.

Genre swap

For this one, let’s take the idea of an outpost in otherspace, waiting far too long for gifts from home. Instead of science fiction / horror, let’s make it fantasy / horror!

The borders of reality are fragile. Among some of the most talented mages in the world, there exist those who can take the tears and widen them, opening gateways to other worlds.

This story takes place on the other side of a rift floating in the air, halfway up a cliff, far from the nearest city. Far from support and due to the dangers of crossing the twisting and bending edges of the portal, supplies from home are rare and expensive.

The main characters are a half dozen mages, originally sent by the king to explore and exploit the resources in this other world. But many of them have their own reasons to be there; wanting to study the other world and how the more flexible reality effects their own magic.

I think it works. It’s a bit different of a story, but it was already in the softer parts of science fiction anyways.

Age/gender swap

For this one, let’s swap around the ages/genders in shadows and steam:

In a steampunk world of steam powered clockwork gadgets (including robotlike automatons), death is not the end. What most people don’t know, is that the robots are granted life via binding the soul of one recently departed into a ‘tired mechanical heart’.

One character is an old man from the kitchens (think a traditional butler look), who dies in the first chapter and becomes one of these automatons, assigned as a frontier solider (a war is brewing with another empire who binds their souls into animals rather than automatons). Another is the very young daughter of the Mayor. When her pranks get out of hand, she gets sent away, apprenticed before the normal age to the Priesthood (the ones who bind the souls to the automatons).

In the end, it’s up to the two of them to either save the day… or change their world.

That one didn’t actually change that much. It did make me realize that I assigned the genders because of an underlying bias towards women serving in the kitchens and men ruling cities, but I think this makes it even more interesting.

Opposite day

For this final one, I have to swap one character’s choices. It’s a little difficult, since I didn’t write much out in the way of choices.

93% of the energy from the sun is stored in the ocean (water has a particularly high specific heat capacity). Far in the future, mankind has used this in order to make a generation ship: a city sealed in the center of a massive sphere of water, hurtling through space.

Over time, the world that was is forgotten and legends grow around operation of the ship. The main character is a young man is offered a position in the Priesthood (mixing machine worship and cargo cult), but turns them down. When his room starts beeping (old server rooms repurposed), they come looking for him though. No one must know the secrets of the Priesthood.

Before all is said and done, the young man has a lot to learn about the world he thought he knew and about just what is out there in the deep, dark space between the stars.


Neat! That was actually a really interesting exercise. I may just have to actually use a couple of these one day.

comments powered by Disqus