Ideas and Such
I have a friend in Russia that writes stories in English, Oleg. A few years ago a meteorite exploded above a Russian city and coated the city in alien dust. What if there is alien bacteria, or an alien virus, from the meteorite? That’s what inspired Oleg to start writing. I’ve helped him a little bit with editing some other works he translated for friends. Next year he plans to publish an anthology of flash fiction horror stories featuring writers from something like a dozen different countries. It’s a cool project. I’m going to contribute and co-edit it with him. So, today I’m going to come up with a flash fiction horror story idea, but I’m going to go over seven completely different ideas I’ve had first, because horror isn’t my main focus.
This is a two brothers story. That archetype has a great tradition with Cain and Able and Romulus and Remus. In this idea I take two brothers. Something sets them on exploratory quests, I’m not sure what. One goes to heaven and one goes to hell. Or, maybe one goes to elysium and one goes to hades, or maybe the fields of asphodel could be in there. I do like the ancient Greek myths and their afterlife world. Anyway, the brothers return. Now they have to live out their lives with their new gamed wisdom and experience, but… it’s exactly the opposite of what you would think. The heaven trip isn’t beneficial and the hell trip is. Or, maybe it could be a more psychological story and they just have a surprising discussion that’s changed their general outlook on life in unique ways. I just like the idea of splitting two brothers and sending one to the good place and one to the bad place and seeing what happens to them.
Wow. I don’t even understand my own notes on this. Here, look at this note for a story idea.
when the cure is the cause, alcoholic, drug addict, medicine, Mao, political charisma, in-group and out-group, false flag false attack
Does that make any sense to you? Sometimes my notes are quite vague, but they’re my ideas so I usually know what I meant, but I’m not sure about this one. I have had some memory issues because of the whole bone in my brainstem thing, but it’s been pretty good lately. Maybe… well… I’m not sure.
I see a connection. When an alcoholic realizes that the cure to a hangover is to drink alcohol they can spiral down a bad path rather quickly. That’s a major part of addiction. It’s similar with the medical industry in general. Often times you go to a doctor because of some thing. They give you medicine. That medicine makes you sick in another way. You go back to the doctor. They give you another medicine. The cycle continues. You can see how those are similar. Next, many people in China, at least a lot of the older generation, believe that Mao was very helpful because he helped increase their economy. This is a similar phenomenon. They believe that the person that hurt the economy was the fix to the economy (although it is true that the economy was also very bad before Mao). It’s useful for politicians to create a strong out-group, a hated group, because that naturally unites the in-group. That’s often the utility of wars for politicians, whether in large countries or in tribal societies. Internal strife, your citizens turning against you, unite them against someone else by starting a war. One great way, and historically fairly common, is to do a false flag attack. Let’s say you are China and you want to take Tibet. A great reason to do that would be to have to do it in self-defense because Tibet attacked you. Well, if Tibet doesn’t actually want to attack you, politicians don’t let that stop them. They just get some of their soldiers to dress up as soldiers from the other side, attack some of their own troops, or even better innocent civilians, and then you have no choice but to go to war. So, it’s the same phenomenon. The politician is the cause of the attack and fear, and the cure for is to give them more power and support so they can revenge the attack that they orchestrated and lessen the fear that they created. When the cause is the cure you are headed down a bad path. But, I’m not sure where I was going with that as far as a story is concerned.
Prometheus stories. I like the story of Prometheus. The primordial ancient Greek titan that molded man out of clay and gave him the gift of fire (depending on the version), then was punished for all eternity by his (nephew?) Zeus by being chained to a rock and having his liver eaten out by eagles. A Prometheus can take a number of forms. The mythical type is interesting, of course. But, it could be changed into a scientist pretty easily. A scientist creates a great new thing. Let’s say it’s a genetic modification for humans that makes peoples bones denser and their muscles stronger. The scientist designed it for patients with muscle wasting diseases, but, of course, athletes get it and start using it. Then it gets released on the streets and all sorts of people are getting it. Causing increases in gang violence and wars. All of that type of stuff. So, the scientist is found and put in prison. Where… someone that has had the genetic modification kills him. I just made that up, right now, but it sounds decent. You could also view that story, or the original Prometheus story, from different and unexpected characters. That could be fun.
R. L. Stine is a unique and interesting character. He’s most famous for the “Goosebumps” series. He starts many stories by coming up with an intriguing title, and then making a story to go with it. Not to long ago my friend Doug referred to raising his son with the saying, “It’s like growing a best friend.” Well, the title “Growing a Best Friend” seems like an intriguing science fiction story to me. Also, I saw a book at Meijer that was something like “The Best Something in…” or “The Last Something in…” Those seem fine to me, but I think a change could make it better, maybe. “The Second Best Wizard in Chicago” or “The Second to Last Cowboy in San Francisco.” I think those set up automatic rivalries that could be intriguing.
Jean Piaget is one of the most influential developmental psychologists in history. He did interesting work, in a lot of areas, but what I’m thinking about here is how kids represent causality and classification. They make a lot of mistakes, as adults do as well. These could be great tools for fiction, and people do use them without thinking about these labels.
Most of these things are from the egocentric phase, where the child can only view the world from one perspective, their own. To some extent I think that actually sticks with people throughout life.
Transduction — where someone infers from one specific to another specific. “My ball is round, the moon is round, the moon is a ball.” Magical realism here we come.
Collective Monologue — where children appear to be having a conversation, but actually they aren’t responding to the other person.
Jules: “I love my doll, her name is Molly.”
Carl: “I’m going to color the sun yellow.”
Jules: “She has long, straight hair like my mom.”
Carl: “Maybe I’ll color the trees yellow too.”
Jules: “I wonder what Molly’s eyes are made of?”
Carl: “I lost my yellow crayon.”
Jules: “ I know, her eyes are made of glass.”
Animism — where people think that things are alive when they aren’t, like a teddy bear. People personify stuff like this all the time.
Artificialism — where the child thinks that all things, or many things, were made by people. Like a factory making clouds. Fun stuff.
Confronting the black forest as a metaphor for different ways of confronting teh unknown. You could explore it, avoid it, cross through it to the other side, return to home, never return, bring something back, etc. Jordan Peterson, the psychology professor from Toronto, and Ray Dalio, the billionaire, both like metaphors like this that are great settings for a comparison of archetypes. I do too.
There is a great fight scene in the movie “The Revenant” where the camera follows one person until they are shot or cut down by someone else. Then the camera smoothly flows into following that person until they are shot or cut down. I really like it. The same thing could be done with a story. You follow a viewpoint character until they die. Then, someone that killed them or someone that was with them becomes the viewpoint character. I think that would be fun. I like the George Martin and Rick Riordan stories where it’s a different character’s point of view depending on the chapter. But, in this version you would stick with one character until they die, and then you couldn’t go back to that viewpoint ever again. I think it would create an interesting effect that some people would probably love, and almost everyone would hate at some point (because you killed off a character that they liked).
Finally, I have to come up with an idea for a short (less than 1,000 words) horror story. I thought about this when I was very frustrated with quite a number of doctors, and the entire traditional medical system in general. No one cared about causes, only symptoms. I had a number of arguments. One PA explicitly told me that there is no such thing as cause and effect. I had symptoms, and those were just there, no cause, no reason to look for one. What an idiot. The MDs that can’t read x-rays, the neurologists that don’t even have a solid theory on what migraines are, the radiologist that forgot to write down my C1 (which is deformed) on the report, the head and spine specialists that wouldn’t look at the issues with my head and spine, the MD that threatened to report me to psychiatrics if I kept complaining about all of my medical problems. It was ridiculous, but it did give me this idea. It reminds me of Stephen King. I didn’t plan to write it, but now that this opportunity is here it seems like it would fit nicely.
The basic idea is that a spurned patient tortures a doctor. Maybe the patient kidnapped them, maybe it’s in the doctors home or office. All of those could work. But, as the doctor is tortured he is offered medical services. “Oh, you are experiencing pain? Well, have some of these pills. I see that your blood pressure is a little high. Take some of these pills.” It could be an interesting psychological exploration. There are a lot of decisions to make, and I will mostly do that later. But, the backstory of why this is being done will be important, I think. Also, which perspective to tell it from? The doctor’s point of view could be interesting, but also the (patients?) point of view could be interesting too. Maybe I could do it from both and compare. It’s only 1,000 words so it will move fast. Essentially I think it will work almost as a scene, maybe with a flashback or something to tie it together. We shall see, but it does seem to be a good idea for a horror story to me.
I’ve written two fictional pieces that I like so far.
“The City of Peace” — A future history science fiction utopia/dystopia action adventure in a framed story of a father telling his son a story about the child’s grandfather.
“The Birth of Hanniba’al” — A dark, somewhat alternative, historical origin story for the Carthage General Hannibal.
Here are three of my most popular posts.
“The Making of a Great First Line in Fiction”
“A Letter to My Niece in 2034”
“The Most Important Question in Philosophy — Part 4 of 4”
You can find more of what I’m doing here: http://www.JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com
You can support this page at https://www.patreon.com/JeffreyAlexanderMartin