It’s summertime! Time to kick back with a cold drink and read a book – or maybe even write one yourself! Today’s Savvy Saturday post will give you a chance to flex those creative writing muscles and brainstorm ideas for your perfect story. I’ll get you started with some prompts – feel free to take them and run with them, and if you come up with something awesome, let me know!
Ideas for characters:
A gruff sea-captain who always wanted to go on for higher education, but was instead apprenticed as a cabin boy by his father at age 10. He’s never forgiven his father. He hopes that someday he’ll have enough money saved up so that he can retire to a nice place in the country and learn Latin and Greek and study the classics, but he secretly knows that it’s just a dream. He is both fascinated by and jealous of the educated passengers he sometimes takes on board, and will occasionally swallow his pride enough to trade a lesson in seafaring for a lesson in physics or history. But not often.
A timid, mentally slow, plain younger daughter of a grocery store manager. She was teased horribly in school, which made her retreat further into herself. She likes to sit in a corner and knit; she makes scarves, hats, and mittens with intricate patterns that she donates to charity. While she knits, she listens and observes the world around her. She empathizes with anyone she sees suffering, though she isn’t brave enough to do anything about it. She feels paralyzed and powerless, and she pours her fears and sadness into her knitting. That is the one part of her life she feels she has control over and is good at, and through that she can help other people who need warm things for the winter.
A centaur (half man, half horse) who was kidnapped by humans when he was young and raised in a menagerie. He has always been bold, energetic, and reckless – he was kidnapped because he strayed away from his parents and the herd and got lost – and has tried for the past decade to free himself and return home. He doesn’t trust any humans (except, perhaps, the young indentured stable-boy who is just as trapped as he is), but has tried to learn all their tricks. He can pick locks, mimic accents and voices, and has even learned the rudiments of swordcraft by watching the guards practice outside the menagerie and practicing with a stick. He’s always looking for an opportunity to escape. He doesn’t remember home very well, just shadowy images and the memory of the heady rush of running with a herd, but he’s confident that he’ll make it back some day. As soon as his captors slip up, even slightly.
Ideas for settings:
Under the sea on a planet covered in water, where merfolk, not humans, have thousands of years of civilization. Empires have risen and fallen, and now the people live under the strict but fair rule of the greatest warrior of the age. A strict class system is in place, with the largest and strongest individuals serving as warriors against the ever-present threat of sharks, bandits, and invasion. Many are farmers, raising schools of fish for food. (The people of this world are carnivorous, like the other creatures of the sea.) A few are craftsmen who carve instruments out of rock or forge them out of metal in the deep-sea volcanic vents. And the most respected individuals are the priests, who care for the sacred pearl that symbolizes the king’s right to rule.
This civilization is jeopardized, however, when a terrible secret is uncovered by the one person who has the power to save the kingdom, or destroy it…Who is this? What is the secret? What happens? That’s for you to decide!
A small kinship-based tribe (the Kuatl) living in the jungle. Danger is part of everyday life for the Kuatl, as sharp-toothed fish wait below the surface of the murky rivers, venomous snakes hang among the vines of the trees, and acid-spitting monsters lurk behind piles of rocks, all waiting for their next meal. Not that the Kuatl have no defenses of their own. With simple magic to keep the less powerful creatures at bay, and cunning and courage to match the attacks of the more powerful creatures of the jungle, they have survived for many generations.
When the chief sees in a dream of power that the Kuatl face disaster, however, all the cunning and courage of the tribe may not prove enough to keep them alive. The chieftain must risk everything to lead them to an unknown land through the dark heart of the jungle, a deadly place rumored to be inhabited by unnatural monsters…and worse.
In Hathan, everyone can fly. The First Levitation, which occurs between ages five and eight, is as much of a mark of passage as taking one’s first step or losing one’s first tooth. By the time children are ten or twelve, they zip through the air like the hawks and eagles with which they share the sky. Many people, however, (especially the elderly) don’t have the energy to fly for more than short distances, and even those who can rarely carry much with them. The exceptions are the Lightning Brigade. These heroes are part military, part Boy Scout, and part rock star. They need less oxygen than most so they can fly higher above the traffic, they are strong and vigorous, and they always help little old ladies carry their groceries home.
One little boy has dreamed his entire life of being part of the brigade. There’s just one problem… (Does he have asthma? Is he afraid of heights? Is he the only one in his community who doesn’t have flying powers? Is he legally prohibited from joining the brigade because his father is a criminal? You decide!)
Ideas for plots:
A twin sister and brother form the world’s best acrobatics team. They have trained together from childhood and can nearly always finish each other’s sentences. Neither can imagine anything separating them – until a new girl appears who is every bit as good as the sister. The brother is fascinated by and attracted to her, resulting in a significant rift in the twins’ relationship. When it turns out that the new girl is actually in trouble and needs their help, the sister must overcome her jealousy and join her brother to rescue the girl from the criminals who want her – and discover why the new girl actually came to join their acrobatics team.
A master spy is framed and condemned by his own king as a traitor. He joins a band of gypsies to escape the hangman’s noose, posing as a musician. He must perform his way across the country, escaping detection by both the king’s guards and the nosy (but good-hearted) other members of the gypsy company, as he attempts to uncover who framed him, why, and how to foil whatever plot is afoot.
Two best friends, both members of a fantasy book club, start reading a new book from the library and get magically transported to the world of the story. They find themselves in the summer residence of the king of the land, who is intrigued by them and is quite willing to send them back – if only he can find out how to do so. As the two friends learn more about the king and his realm, however, they discover that he is actually the villain of the book! Despite this, it seems as though he is still likely their best chance of getting home. One friend decides to stay with the king (“history is written by the victors, and he doesn’t seem like a bad guy”), while the other decides to leave before the king realizes they know who he is. The one who leaves falls in with a band of rebels, the book’s protagonists, who plan to overthrow the king. Both friends know how the book “is supposed” to go, but both want to use this knowledge to try to help their ally. Eventually, the two friends find themselves on opposite sides of a battle that will decide the fate of the kingdom. It seems as though whichever side wins, only one of them will go home alive…if a way can be found to go home at all.
I hope you enjoyed these little snippets of ideas, and I hope they inspire you! How would you incorporate one (or multiple!) of these ideas into a story? Which one is your favorite? What brilliant ideas do YOU have for new characters, settings, and plots? Comment below!