How to Remix Story Ideas

Audio mixer - Illustration for remixing story ideas article

One way to come up with story ideas is to “remix” the ones that are already out there. Find stories you like, take them apart, and reassemble them into something entirely new.

For example, take a look at these story ideas:

  1. A group of young people visits a cemetery after dark, looking for a private place. They discover a section of the cemetery where all of the gravestones are carved with three-dimensional replicas of the deceased’s face. Amazingly, one of the faces opens his eyes and begins to speak. “Hello! I need your help! Do you see these faces on either side of me? I need you to destroy them! Now!”
  2. A necromancer discovers a way to create undead infused with nature spirits. An undead infused with a flame spirit can breathe fire like a dragon. An undead infused with a water spirit can command the sea. These new creatures make him powerful enough to control kingdoms, but the spirits grow resentful at being chained to corpses. Soon, nature itself wages war against him.
  3. A teenager with the ability to travel through mirrors uses his strange power to steal from homes and department stores. A security guard catches him and offers to not turn him over to the police, if the teen teaches him the secret.
  4. The door in the attic could go anywhere. Depending on which part of the frame you touched, it opened to any of a thousand different worlds. Occasionally, there were people on the other side, or creatures, but they never seemed to notice the mysterious door opening thirty feet over their heads. Except for the woman on the white horse. Whenever the door opened to her world, she was always there, always looking up, pure hatred in her eyes.

The first step in remixing is to disassemble the story ideas into their component parts.

  1. Characters: A group of young people and a talking gravestone. Location: a cemetery. Conflict: being ordered to vandalize graves.
  2. Characters: A necromancer and angry spirits. Location: fantasy kingdom. Conflict: war against nature.
  3. Characters: A super powered teen and a store security guard. Location: A department store. Conflict: being threatened with arrest.
  4. Characters: The woman on the white horse. Location: The attic and alternate dimensions. Conflict: Intruders in her world.

The second step is to pick your favorite parts and mix them together. Let’s take the cemetery from #1, the necromancer from #2, the security guard from #3, and the intruders from #4.

Our new remixed story idea might end up looking like this:

A security guard is patrolling a cemetery when he comes across a grave robber digging up a grave. The security guard attempts to stop him, but the grave robber uses dark magic to summon zombies to his aid.

We can see that our new story idea is something very different from any of the four we started with. If we wanted to make it even more unique, we could go looking for more sources of inspiration and keep mixing and matching.

Happy writing!

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