So my buddy Brian, who like me already has several book-length typescripts stuffed in a drawer somewhere, talked me into doing National Novel Writing Month this November.

The goal is to pound out fifty thousand words in thirty days while simultaneously forging virtual friends with a hundred thousand other over-ambitious wordsmiths.

Seeing that I commute a couple hours a day to my forty-hour-a-week job, it’s going to be tough to find the time and energy to string together even a handful of cogent paragraphs, let alone a best seller. But I’m willing to try.

First, I need an idea.

I ran a couple past a co-worker on the carpool home. He was earnest, and I appreciated his advice. Problem is that talking about a process as personal as creating fiction made me too self-conscious to do anything but resort to my usual facetiousness.

That said, having committed to this scheme I’ve got to start somewhere. So here’s what we tossed around.

Fantasy: I suggested quite unseriously that I craft an epic tale based on a Dungeons & Dragons character who is half-dwarf, half-giant. Yeah—the last time I tried that joke on a different officemate, she retorted: “Oh, you mean someone normal size.”

Romance: Not to miss a chance at dishing another groaner, I then mentioned the option of spinning one of those Amish love stories. The reply? “Might work if you threw in some vampires.”

Alternative history: I asked what he thought of stories that mix real events with mind-bending what-ifs. You know—the Napoleonic wars fought with dragons. My friend said it shouldn’t be too hard: just start with something dramatic and factual then carefully blend in the fantastic stuff. But I’m not convinced. I really can’t see George Washington going wand-to-wand with the Minister of Magic, or say, Martin Luther challenging the pope to a hip-hop dance-off.

Literature: We did get around to pondering how to present a thoughtful and respectful treatment of today’s most pressing issues. Just not for very long.

Bottom line: I do have a few plots in mind that have been collecting synaptic dust not quite as long as my typescripts have been crumpled in the back of the desk. But they probably deserve better than to be fodder for a literary experiment.

So if anyone has any spare story ideas they’re willing send my way, I’ll be happy to look them over. Just not a fierce tribe of teddy bears who help bring down an evil space empire. George Lucas already ruined that one.


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