Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Prove a Story Creation Theory

Most writers, especially the members of Georgia Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America, have all be told at one time or another that if you give a group of writers a concept, word, etc. and tell them to write a story about it, each writer will create something different. No two stories will be the same. This is all assuming writers don't plagiarize.

How do we know that? There are only a certain number of plots out there. How many? Funny you should ask. There are many different answers. I have heard 7, 20, 37 and 69. Who is right? Who is wrong? The fact is it doesn't matter. What's important to note is that the experts agree that there are a limited number of plots writers can use to create stories. Now think about how many stories are out there in all the various genres available to the consumer.

What makes these stories different? It is your voice, the choice of words, how the words are strung together, pacing, emphasis on certain words or phrases, genre, world view, opinions, education, background and experiences that make your story unique.

Explore the number of plots:

So let's prove the following theory:

Give a group of writers a line, blurb, concept, word, etc. and instruct a group of writers to create a story. None of those stories will be the same as long as there is no plagiarism.

I am going to provide the concept, and I would like you to come up with a story. All I'm looking for is a few lines to describe your story. Please post your creations as a comment to this blog. To make this exercise even more interesting, get some friends to join us.


All of us know the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the girl going to grandma's house who is eaten by a wolf. Now, your job is to insert a romance into the fairytale.

If you need to refresh your memory, here is a link to the story as retold by Rohini Chowdhury:

The only limits to this exercise are the ones you impose on yourself. If you come up with more than one story idea, post them. Now go have some fun.

NOTE: I want to apologize up front for not responding to your ideas during the day. My company blocks blogs, so I can't jump in during my lunch hour. So I will catch up with you all tonight. I look forward to reading about great story ideas.


Carol Burnside said...

Hmm. My story would be sexy. 'Red' refers to her hair, her fiery temper, and her desire for the hero. The big bad wolf? Maybe he's a leather-clad hunk, undercover with a motorcycle gang.

Nicki Salcedo said...

I love this idea. I'm going to put on my thinking cap and report back!

Dianna Love said...

It's true that we'd all come up with different stories. An easy example is the movie Pretty Woman, which is an example of a "cinderella story."

I'm on the way out the door to work on a business project, but will be back this evening to post a story idea.

I think three authors did this in an anthology this last year - took one story idea and all three wrote their own versions, but I can't recall who did it. Maybe someone posting will.

Marilyn Baron said...

I believe your theory that each writer would come up with a different slant on the story. We've proven that in Aspen Expose our PF&HT Book on a Blog. We started with three basic characters and the book has moved in a variety of directions. The stories are as individual as the writers.

I'd have to think about my slant but at first glance the Big Bad Wolf would definitely be the hero.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Marilyn...The wolf would be my hero and he'd have gotten a bad rap because he's been in the wrong place at the wrong time...then a pretty detective wolf comes to his rescue.


Obe said...

I am so trying not to look at others.. But what an interesting idea. I assume you only want a paragraph or two to describe the story... Oh naughty thoughts dang woman this early in the morning. sigh. Ok, after I mop the floors. Ah yes, the life of a diva.

Doug said...

Little Red Riding Hood would be portrayed by Nicole Kidman; the Big Bad Wolf...who else, Gene Simmons. Grandmother....Jaclyn Smith. Okay, I better stop before I get carried away.

There won't be any "Charlie" to rescue these Angels!!!!

CiCi Barnes said...

Wonderful thought-provoking idea, Tammy. Let's see.....

The story opens with Red and Big Bad in a heated argument. He challenges her to a contest. If she wins she gets her grandmother back and he goes on his merry way; if he wins Red must marry him.

Red accepts the contest on one condition: if he wins, she will marry him, but he must also return the grandmother.

Big Bad agrees.

Red comes through every challenge and works to change Big Bad from his terrible ways.

In the end, Big Bad bows to Red's toughness, her unselfishness to free her grandmother and her kindness toward him.

Big Bad morphs into a handsome prince to reward Red, they marry and live HEA.

Just remember, it's early in the morning as I write this.


Mo H said...

Why not throw in a little paranormal element? The Big Bad Wolf is a werewolf. Perhaps, when the moon isn't full, he's a mild mannered woodsman.

Susan May said...

Red is intereseted in the boy that lives next door to grandma. She looks out the window at him hoping he will notice her someday.

Great thought provoking post.

J Perry Stone said...

Great idea, Tammy! And I totally agree with Mo it should go paranormal. So, in the spirit of Halloween ...

The most powerful shape-shifter of his kind, the wolf made a fateful mistake one day and was cursed to prowl the dark forest, his soul forever locked in the body of an animal.

His only joy? The spot of vibrant color skimming the forest’s edge at the end of every lonely night.

He called her, Rose.

He followed her silently, his heart aching as she hummed sweet melodies.

She didn't know he saw everything--her grandmother whipping her with a leather strap when she was late or stabbing her with a fork when Rose filled the tea cups overfull.

Wolf lurked outside the windows of the small cottage as Rose fled, cradling her injured hand in her scarlet cape.

She left the door open.

He slipped inside and stared at Rose’s Grandmother, the evil hag who cursed him. If he killed her, he might save Rose from her cruelty, but doom himself to forever traverse the ground as a beast.

Back hunched, he lifted his head, howled out the pain of impossible love, the old crone startling in her chair by the fire.

And then he leapt.

J Perry Stone said...

Man, I should have read CiCi's first.

We both paired Red with the Wolf.

What does that say about us, CiCi, hm?

Jon Young said...

Soon after leaving home LRRH meets briefly with Prince Charming (PC) who she has a small crush on. Arriving at Gramma's(G) house the Big Bad Wolf (BBW) emerges from the woods. But, tada, PC also charges out of the woods and takes on BBW. An epic battle ensues. But BBW wins! G emerges from her house and tells a story that reveals PC as an evil oppressor of the peasantry. BBW is actually a hero of the people (ala Robin Hood). LRRH and BBW live HEA as revolutionaries fighting the privileges of the nobility.

Jon Young said...

I forgot to mention that this story is the reason that red is the color of international communism.

J Perry Stone said...

*snort* Jon. Hilarious.

Mary Marvella said...

Red screamed at the wolf in her grandma's bed.

"Wait," Mary called when Red turned to run for help.

Mary couldn't believe her granddaughter had uncovered her secret. She lived in the woods for a good reason. No one would understand about her werewolf boyfriend. They really wouldn't understand she was were, too.

Cyrano said...

Great post.
Hmmm...see, I'm a perfectionist, so to ask me a question like this is to urge me to sit staring at the computer for about 15 minutes and then an idea will come. Once that idea comes I must mull the friggin thing over for an hour or two, writing sentences, deleting sentences, staring at a certain word for hours because I know there is a better one out there.
Arrrggggg. It'd take me the whole day.
Don't ever write like Tamara...she crazy!
I'll have to do this though, it's a great challenge.
Have a lovely, lovely day,

Susan said...

Good grief, I logged on this morning and took the day to ponder only to come back and find 99% of all great stories taken!! You guys are amazing to just come up with this stuff!

I was thinking of taking it along the lines of a crime novel...let's see...Granny being a bad choice for our criminal element since Red is an FBI agent. I'm in a wierd mood today, so I'm not sure if I'd take it on a romantic twist where Agent Red converts Big Bad, or maybe Big Bad converts Agent Red...or maybe I'm feeling evil and I'd just like Agent Red to nail him to the wall after using her "woman powers" to lull him into a false sense of lovey-dovey.

You guys are great, some of those ideas have potential.

Mary Buckham said...

Tammy ~~ Great creativity starter -kudos to you! Hmmm. A wolf is such an Alpha image that there can be lots of fun using him as the hero. On the other hand I'd love to see Red Riding Hood kick some wolf butt in which case maybe granny has not been granny at all but a spell that's imprisioned her true protector all these years until she came into her own as a woman. Granny [the hero in disguise and boy would he be frustrated] wants to 1) save Red and 2) save himself but his bane is to be powerless until the right woman claims her own power and sets him free. So Red must save herself and as her reward she frees the inner man who knows her best. So much better than kissing a frog!
Cheers ~~ Mary B

Carla said...

ok. So I'm thinking that the grandmother was against Red and Wolfie having a relationship and forbid them from being together. Wolfie loves Red so much that he decided to get rid of anything or anyone who stood in the way of them being together for the rest of their lives. He was planning on asking Red to partake in the sacred ceremony that would make her immortal as he; he would drink her blood and release the spirit of his foremothers into her body and soul, and they would rule the afterlife together eternally. With the Grandmother now gone, Wolfie has to clean up the mess he made destroying her and appear as if he was never at Grandmothers house. He doesn't even hear Red as she enters and is watching him stuff what's left of Grandmother into an old cedar chest (he was preparing to bury it in the woods). She drops the picnic basket she was carrying causing the wine bottles to burst, and yells: "Wolfie! How could you!" and takes off back into the woods. Wolfie turns and is heartbroken and angry at the same time. He doesn't run after her, instead he summons his pack wolf demons to capture her and return her to him, BUT his one demand is that no harm shall come to her or he would destroy them all!

Linsey Lanier said...

Great post, Tammy. I decided to go with women's fiction.

Little Red Riding Hood is sipping a double latte at the local Starbucks with a few friends. She's worried about the extra pounds she's been putting on lately and the whipped cream isn't helping. But, you only live once and with the way things have been going lately...
"You just don't know what it's like living with Harry," she complains.
Her friend rolls her eyes. "Tell me about it."
Red sighs. "I thought everything would be perfect when we met. But being married to a wolf, isn't all it's cracked up to be. I caught him howling at the moon last night."
Her other friend smirked. "You think you've got problems? All I do is clean up after George while he talks about his building projects with his two brothers. The man's a real pig."
"You think you two have it bad?" said the blonde next to Red. "I thought it would be a dream come true being married to a Prince. But all he does is ride around his kingdom on his white horse. He completely ignores me. And yesterday one of the fairy godmothers said he was carrying a glass slipper, looking for someone else's foot to try it on."
"No!" Red cried.
That's as far as I got.

Obe said...

ok after thinking all day, I came up with a historical tweak.

The Story would be set in 1880's in the Puget Sound area. A woman, yes a beautiful red head, would fall in love with a Native American named Wolf.

Wolf is at odds with her brother over logging practices. Red of course sides with Wolf.

They must over come the prejudices of people,fight for the preservation of the forest by showing that replanting cuttings will still bring a profit and help her brother save the beginning lumber company that is their future.

Tammy Schubert said...

A friend shared this with me. She's shy.

Little red riding hood goes to the house to see that the wolf has eaten her grandma. What happens next:

Little red riding hood is so furious she decides that she is going to take matters into her own hands and try and kill the wolf by making him eat poison. The wolf and her have dinner later that night and little red riding hood feeds the wolf but it turns out that the grandma had a few last words that the wolf is trying to say but he starts choking, little red riding hood trys to hear what the wolf is saying but she can only make out “he did it to rescue you because he loves….” Before he dies.

Tammy Schubert said...

Wow! Thank you for all coming out and sharing your story ideas. All of them are fantastic.

Carol, love the motorcycle gang touch.

Nicki, I know you are super busy, but I hope you come back and share your idea.

Dianna, thanks for stopping by and sharing with us today.

Marilyn, ASPEN EXPOSE is a great example. For those of you who would like to read ASPEN EXPOSE, scroll down the page. The links to the chapters can be found on the right side. The story is complete, so you can read it all at once. No waiting.

Anonymous, you and Marilyn have a great idea about the wolf being the hero. I love the part about a pretty detective wolf comes to his rescue.

Doug, Nicole Kidman would make a good Red Riding Hood. Not so sure about Gene Simmons though. Could we get the new James Bond guy for this? I can't remember his name, but he's hot.

CiCi, this is such a sweet story. I love the fact he has to bow to her skills.

Mo H, a paranormal element is always welcome.

Susan, the boy next door type. It has great possibilities.

J Perry, wow! I would love to read the story.

Jon, you had me rolling on the floor laughing. What a great story. And who would have thought about red being the color of international communism in this context? Love it.

Mary, the wolf from the wrong side of the tracks tale. How fun.

Cyrano, I hope you haven't been obsessing over this all day. I didn't mean to make you nuts. However, if you are ready to share your story, I would love to hear it.

Susan, welcome to the discussion. I know you almost didn't make it today. FBI agent stories are always my favorite. My vote is definitely for Agent Red to nail him to the wall using her "woman powers". Great idea.

Mary, thank you so much for joining us today. Stories where the woman claims her own power are terrific. I'm glad you had time to join us today.

Carla, great job! And you were worried. This is a fun story. Love the paranormal element.

Linsey, LOL. This is a great mix of fairytale and modern day. Love it.

Obe, historicals are a favorite of mine. This is great and timely with the environmental issues going on in today's world. Love the story idea.

My shy friend, your idea is great. It's very creative and fun. Sounds like a tragic ending piece. A different twist is always neat.

You have all blown me away with your creative talent. Maybe some more people will chime in later tonight. I would love to read more.

Thank you all for stopping by today. I know you are all crazy busy, and it means a lot to me that you took time out to come out and play.

Tami Brothers said...

Okay, okay. I cheated and read the other stories first. Dang it!!! But you are all hard acts to follow. It took me a bit to think of anything that might be left and this is what I have.

For decades, there have been rumors of the woods outside of Red’s small hometown being haunted. Not only were there rumors, but every few years, some brave souls would venture in and NEVER return. When authorities would try to find these lost people, they would return home empty handed but filled with stories of the strange shadows that seemed to follow their every move. Thus, the rumors and stories have succeeded in keeping people from discovering the compound hidden deep within the trees. A compound that houses a secret people are willing to kill to protect.

Red’s grandmother is considered one of the town’s crazies since she persists in living alone in a house located at the edge of these haunted woods. Because Red’s family owns half the woods, the town people have tried for generations to get Red’s family to move and allow them to clear cut the trees, thus getting rid of the haunted woods forever.

Knowing they can’t sway grandmother, the town’s elders go to Red and offer to approve her request of opening up a business downtown, one they have previously denied multiple times. Red decides to visit her grandmother and attempt to ask a favor from her; but when she arrives, she sees that someone has broken into the house and trashed it. While looking around, Red finds wolf tracks leading into the woods. Alongside these tracks are droplets of blood.

Red is instantly concerned for her grandmother. Knowing the town’s people would be more than happy if something bad had happened to the older woman, Red knows she’s all alone in finding her. As she stands at the edge of the woods contemplating whether to venture in or stay where it’s safe, Red has no idea that she’s on the verge of fulfilling a destiny she never even knew was hers.

Is Red brave enough to take those first steps or will she live at the edge of the woods, like her ancestors before her, and never realize that her true destiny is slipping from her grasp?

Okay, what do you think??? Does it fit???

Tami Brothers

Jon Young said...

Inspired by the many great ideas expressed here here is:
Take II
Red is on her way to visit her friend, who, because of her age and wisdom, everyone calls Granny. As Red puts down her basket of goodies the Big Bad Wolf jumps out of the closet (*** symbolism alert***) to attack. Using their superior female verbal persuasiveness Granny and Red show the Big Bad Wolf the error of his wicked ways. He slinks off in defeat with his tail betwen his legs. Red and Granny live happily ever after as a lesbian couple, but have many more adventures taking macho males down a peg or two using their non-violent womanly powers of creativity and intelligence.

Tammy Schubert said...


Very creative. The haunted woods idea is a great idea. Love the final story question. I hope she follows her true destiny.

Tammy Schubert said...


Welcome back! LOL!! You are so funny. Love the story.

Tammy Schubert said...

Thank you, everyone for coming out to play with story ideas. I have had so much fun, and I hope you did, too.

Cinthia Hamer said...

Wow! What awesome ideas!

If I hadn't been so oxygen deprived (bronchitis) I'd have loved to join in.

My first thought was that Red and Wolfie are carrying on a clandestine affair and Grandma is really a wolf-hunter.

One night, as Wolfie stands near to see that Red makes it inside safely, Grandma leaps out,weapon poised (what kills a werewolf???), but Red intervenes,and Grandma ends up dead instead of Wolfie. As they stand, staring at Grandma's lifeless body, they are startled to see a weird transformation...grandma's body slowly morphs into that of--a wolf!

Tammy Schubert said...

Cinthia, I hope you feel better soon.

Your story idea is great. I can picture Grandma in her red/black plaid hunting shirt along with her hat and rifle. How fun!

Anonymous said...

Red Riding hood loved her grama so, but knew she was quite ill, as she ran into the forest to fnd some fresh berries for remedy for grama, she came across a friendly young boy that was collecting leaves for his home. he ued the leaves in his log cabin that he shared with his grampa to start fires to keep warm. It works much better than wood he said- just to get the flame a blazin- lil red and Tom (the young man) started to talk and realized thay had alot in common. They were both care givers for thier granparents and knew of the teh great scare of the wolf. Tom has had a bad encounter that left his right eye with a severe scar. Lil red brushed his face and said" I have a concoction that could help that heal more nicely" Would you be able to follow me home and I will give you tub of it- Tom glady agreed and then he held lil red's hand as they walked towards her house..

Tammy Schubert said...

Dana, that's a sweet story. It's great. I hope that the wolf looks worse than Tom once that encounter was over.

Jon Young said...

Seems pretty dead in here but I have one last permutation:
Take III
Red is a red, but she is defeated by the blazing tommy guns of Big Bad Wolf and Granny, who is J. Edgar Hoover in drag. Big Bad Wolf and "Granny" live happily ever after uncovering numerous commie plots.