From the idea box

I have a small metal box filled with index cards on which I scribble ideas through the year (when I’m not scribbling them in my goes-everywhere notebook). Some of the cards in that box go back decades, and may well yet get written. But every year or so I also cull all the old ideas that, lovely as they seemed at the time, are clearly now things that I’m not ever going to write after all.

Others get discarded as things I have written, or incorporated into same, so that they’re no longer freestanding ideas of their own. There were a remarkable number of those this year. (Including a card that read simply: “Rending Magic. Mending Magic. Ending Magic.” And another that read “We are the children of the War. They tell us we have to fix things. How can anyone fix magic?” Because what have I been writing the past few years, if not just this?)

Anyway, here’s a selection from this year’s haven’t-written, probably-never-will-write discard pile, in case they spark stories that someone else will write. Because we all know ideas are the easy part, but even so, sometimes ideas can lead us down roads worth following:

  • Shapeshifter school
  • What if a group of kids find out the adults really had stopped time to keep everyone from aging
  • The price of flying is a dream (each time/flight, a chipping away of first smaller dreams, then larger ones)
  • Swing!
  • The town of Paradox (which really does exist, somewhere in the northeast?)
  • Robot fights as the gladiator fights/casual brutality of the future
  • A story from the POV of two women–one a high-schooler, the other a thousand-year-old vampire–who are both interested in the same boy
  • That kind hanging onto that statue is just trying to stay near to a transformed parent or sibling
  • Opening the windows in the car wash and laughing as the water pours in
  • What if the Little Mermaid did kill the prince to regain her family in the end? What then?
  • Gaining psi/magic powers from an organ or marrow transplant from someone with those powers (and then the people who killed the donor come after you)
  • Someone decides to kill themself by summitting Everrest or K2 and dying on the way down–only then instead they have to help someone else survive the decent
  • Do-over
  • “The forest … there are a million stories”
  • Someone curse to wander the airports of the world
  • Things that go bump in the morning
  • A kid who’s mom goes into space, leaving him behind for several years
  • Women’s bathroom graffiti from/too someone who suspects her husband is an alien
  • Story about a kid or teen who drops out–not of school, but of all the associated activities–and what she notices and discovers about the world when she does (including magic?)
  • A kid who one day suddenly really can’t sleep and doesn’t know why
  • A teacher who says “quiet!” and magic compells the kids to listen
  • What if a kid came home from school and her family really had moved away?
  • “Sidekick”: about a guy who regularly gets rescued by the local (female) superhero and has to deal with not being the stronger of them (without her being secretly vulnerable or any such nonsense)
  • The Princesses’ self-escape and self-defense league
  • A kid on a colony world, bitter for not having seen earth and not having had a choice in the matter; and another kid, who doesn’t understand earth nostalgia at all
  • It’s like The Mixed-Up Files … only for observatories instead of museums
  • “There are 17 civilized planets on which you’d legally be an adult. Please–act like you’re from one of them!”

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