Writing Excuses 6.21: Brainstorming From Story Seeds


Editor’s Note: This post has been written by Linda K. Strahl, an editor at the Jet Fuel Review. Her full bio can be found at the end of this post.

The podcast this week is, by far, one of the more difficult podcasts I have had to listen to since I started writing them up in June. It is an amazing learning experience about how to construct a story from a set of given facts, which they call “mash-ups”. So, first, here are the list of mash-ups that Jordo (producer) gave the group to work on:

  • Wary of Iguanas, Bored Germans Finally Venture Out
  • Heroic Mailman Saves Three Lives While On the Job
  • Dolphin Charged With Battery Against Girlfriend
  • Austrian Power Company Tells Customer She is Dead

Second, I want to point out that they had some time to work on these before the podcast, which explains why the stories have their varying degrees of development. Mary kicks the group off with an epic plot that Brandon describes as having all the necessary qualities for a fully vetted story — A.K.A. content, character, premise. The most memorable description of her story was “the technology to transfer human consciousness to animals,” which isn’t found in any of the others stories.

Brandon tells the audience that he decided to go with a magic system in order to facilitate continuance of his story. In his head, he believed that a magic system helped to explain the oddities that he had to base his plot on. By this time I realized that all four of the mash-up lines are supposed to be interlinked. I think that was hard for me to discern in Mary’s story because she did it so well, but Brandon clears that up when he talks about “envelopes that tell a person, or family, that they are dead.”

Howard and Dan find ways to make their stories — though lacking in their fullness — far from boring. As the details are infinitely greater than what I can write out on paper, I suggest the readers of this blog listen to the free podcast off of iTunes.

I felt that I should mention as a last tidbit of information that I thought it was interesting that the group, as a collective, had the common theme of animals within their scenarios, as my own story involved sports-team players. I can’t help but wonder what others will come up with.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, narrated by Tom Weiner.

Writing Prompt: No prompt this week. Not unless you want to try your hand at these headlines.

Editor’s Note: Linda K Strahl is a transfer student from University of Wisconsin- La Crosse, where she was studying Archaeology and minoring in Creative Writing. She came to Lewis University in Fall of 2010 to major in Creative Writing. After participating in the production of two plays at Phillip Lynch Theater she has become an enthusiastic dramaturg, and is contemplating a career as a researcher and playwriter.

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