Ideas are easy to come by.
What’s more rare is the ability to shape that idea into an actual story. By way of example and illustration, I regularly come up with interesting settings and characters, sometimes both at the same time, but rarely have a full story to make it all gell.
In fact, to prove to the few readers this blog might still have how cheap ideas like this are, I’ll give one away for free. Here’s a world setting idea that I’ve been bouncing around in my head for the past couple of weeks.
Start with one of my old favorites, magic as an STD. That mixes in all sorts of potential conflicts and uncomfortable conjunctions that result in stories. (In fact, I wrote a story with nothing but this as the premise some time ago, called The Chrome Girl.)
Now, mix in a little artificial biodiversity accomplished by way of genetic engineering. New species of plants and animals and insects just loaded with transgenic material waiting to get loose in the world to recombine in ways we can’t predict. So, this gives us a world with magic, however you care to actually define that, and all sorts of interesting beasties, perhaps including things like dragons and sphynxes and pegasus and … Well, you get the idea. Now, we could stop there and have a pretty decent world with all the fantasy and technology mixed together. There are any number of stories that might come from this and an author could make an entire series of books, not to mention a career, with the landscape I just described in a few short sentences.
But, let’s keep going…
Now, let’s add a lot of time. Enough time, in fact, that people forget the technology but still have the STD-produced magic and the assorted mythical beasties and plants and such. Maybe throw in the collapse of modern civilization, just to make sure technology is dead. This isn’t too different from what Anne McCaffrey did with the Dragon Riders of Pern series. (For a great look at her world, check out The Dragonlover’s Guide to Pern, Second Edition. There’s no magic there, but the rest is pretty well dead on.)
But, let’s say everyone’s worst fears about global warming came true and the polar ice caps pretty well melt. That would raise sea levels at least 215 feet, according to some sources. So, that would significantly change coastlines world wide. It would also force a bunch of population to move about to accomodate the changes in climate and habitable land.
Now, you might think that’s enough to do to our mythical future descendants, but I’m not quite done with them. Let’s add a shift of the Earth’s magnetic poles. It’s not as far fetched as you might think and, really, we have no idea what effects it might have on Earth. Frankly, almost anything could happen, much of it not great. With any luck, for our future story setting, it would reduce population and plunge us into a kind of modern dark age. Why is lucky for us? Well, because adversity like that makes for wonderful stories! Now, assuming the human race survives all that, when we come out of our new dark age, all sorts of exploration and rebuilding possibilities exist. All of which, of course, results in more story opportunities!
So, where’d these ideas come from?
Well, the first one came to me while watching a science program in college. The show was about diseases or virii or some such, but mentioned “chicken pox”. Apparently, chicken pox is actually a form or herpes and, as such, actually alters a victim’s genetic code to create the tell-tale spots.
The artificial biodiversity idea came from several science articles I’ve read over the years, both about genetically engineered plants and animals and assorted topics on extinction. It seemed a logical jump, to me, that someone might try to artificially encourage biodiversity via genetic manipulation. And, of course, who wouldn’t want their own, pet dragon?
The melting polar ice-caps is an old theme and right out of current science a political news.
The bit about the shift of the magnetic poles was first suggested to me by my mother as a possible explanation for how magic somehow returned to the world. You just never know what Mom’s going to come up with next!
But, notice, I have all this just floating around in my head, with no actual stories or plots. Amazing, isn’t it? They’re all just “out there” floating around, waiting for someone to write them down.
So, what are you waiting for? Go think up some stuff to write about, then do it!