I’m working on three short stories for Voodoo,
our upcoming scary anthology (taken from contributors of the July Word Weaver Writing Contest, which announces TOMORROW).
And in typical writer fashion, I’m juggling three story ideas for it, maybe more.
What about you?
I always say, if I gave three writers the same outline, they’d all write different stories because our visions of such a story and our styles are so very different. Besides, some people say there are only seven main stories anyway, and all stories are a version of those. I guess if you take a 30,000 foot view you could argue that. I disagree.
I think there are many different stories out there, some of which have never been told – and of course, no one tells a story like me. (They don’t tell a story like you, either.)
I guess at 30,000 feet it might appear that there are only seven stories, so if you fly at 50,000 feet or 100,000 feet, there’s probably only one.
Not sure what that one, all encompassing, universal plot is.
Maybe like Vonnegut said. “Somebody gets into trouble and then they get out of it again.”
Maybe like Jim Thompson. “There is only one plot – things are not what they seem.”
That last one kinda blows my mind. Supposedly his larger quote about that was, “There are thirty-two ways to write a story, and I’ve used every one, but there is only one plot – things are not as they seem.”
Alfred Hitchcock said, “A good story is life with the dull bits taken out.”
The point is,
I never fear to share my idea for a story with other people because they won’t end up writing the same story as me.
Most wouldn’t write it at all, even if I told them the whole plot or the entire outline. They either won’t get to it or they don’t write that genre or they aren’t interested in writing that story.
They’ll love reading it, just not writing it.
So here are some of the ideas I’m thinking about, and I’d like to know what ideas you are percolating on. You could share just the title if you want, or a few lines, or maybe your opening paragraph – whatever you want, to get people thinking.
They won’t steal your idea
and even if they do, it’s all the same seven stories anyway so you stole it first. Theoretically.
Some lucky winner gets to have their story take the title, Voodoo. If I get that, I’ll use one of the stories below – but it’ll be the best story that gets to share its name with the title (if that person wants it); it won’t automatically go to me.
If a lot of people submit stories with the title Voodoo, and they get into the anthology, we’ll work together and change the names. Mine could easily be called “The Corner Shop” or something.
Here’s a little of what I had in mind.
“The Corner Shop” or “Voodoo”
Two guys go into a voodoo shop in New Orleans and look at the odd collection of items there. One is wanting to go party and the other is a bit intrigued by what he sees. Their wives are across the street getting a drink and the one guy wants to hurry up and join them. The other lingers and talks with the shop owner (a lady who may be the mother of Dahlia from An Angel On Her Shoulder, where some voodooey stuff happened, but that won’t matter.) The man is curious and the shop owner doesn’t talk to him, doesn’t even seem to hear him. When the two men finally leave, the one makes an excuse to not immediately join their wives and goes back into the shop. There he engages with the woman and she asks him questions about what he really wants from her. The answers he gives terrify even him.
Hmmm… do I have your attention now?
If you were lacking for a story, that could serve as a prompt for you, because everyone will have a different idea for what the shop owner and the man talk about – and what happens as a result. See?
By the way, if I don’t get to call my story Voodoo, I’ll call it The Voodoo Shop or The Gift Shop Of Marie Laveau or Corner Store or something, so don’t worry about trying to snag the Title story. I want everyone to try to get the title story.
“Now Comes Death”
A man in his early thirties visits his younger brother who is dying of cancer and has only a few days – if that – to live. As children, they were always close, but have since grown apart. Attempting to console his brother, the man inadvertently makes a pact to try to reach him on the other side somehow.
Oooh, wonder where that will go.
I’m like the Peter Dinklage character Miles Finch in the movie Elf, tapping the little notebook. “Alright. I’ve got about five or six great starts here. I’ve got one idea that I’m especially psyched out of my mind about. You know. One of those ideas where you’re just like . . . YES!”
“The Perfect Frie”
This one will possibly be more macabre. It’s about a guy who loves junk food (french fries, especially) and talks about how he grew a garden when he was a kid and all the stuff was stunted and small. Tiny 1″ carrots, little golf ball sized potatoes (those would never make a good frie; too small). The main character goes on to speak of his job, and how things must be watered and tended in life or they don’t happen fully. Careers, people, pets, whatever. Then we see the MC has been particularly interested in a newspaper story about a mentally unstable Florida man convicted of killing a little girl and putting pieces of her dismembered body in crab traps in Tampa Bay. He always said he never did it. “I never hurt nobody!” the murderer would shout, almost a whine, for nearly a decade as he pleaded for his life in TV and in newspapers, with his straggly, greasy hair and his toothless mouth and his orange, state-issued jump suit.
The convict worked as a crabber, part of the crews that set miles and miles of wire traps from the boats that went up and down Tampa Bay at all the odd hours when respectable folks were asleep or at work. He may have been the actual embodiment of evil – that which does not even know what it’s doing is bad. A man who kills for fun but knows it’s wrong might be stopped. One who doesn’t even know he’s doing anything bad – he’s just picking golf-ball sized potatoes from a garden. He’s not doing anything wrong. Why, by his own admission, he never hurt nobody. Can’t conceive of how wrong it would be to rape a four year old girl and hack her to pieces and plunge her parents into a life of eternal hell… Can’t conceive of it being bad. He doesn’t believe – truly doesn’t believe – he did anything wrong.
So the main character goes to work at his job in Raiford, at the Florida State Prison, and opens the door to the electric chair, deciding to make sure the criminal will know.
So these are some ideas of mine.
Nothing fully fleshed out…
I’m an idea guy, and ideas come at me – and you, probably – all the time. I capture them the best I can and tinker with them a while until they start to grow, and then I assemble them into a story that will entertain readers.
What ideas are YOU kicking around for Voodoo?
Tell me below!
And get ready. The Word Weaver Writing Contest will be officially announced tomorrow, and VOODOO will be our best contest yet!