Post from Brokenmindthoughts

The Ideabird is more well-known under it's Tumblr account. posted some thoughts from one of my ideas:


Just checked out the “Ideabird” ( and found something intriguing. I’ve been scouring reddit for writer’s help and something that a certain redditor stuck with me. You can have an idea for an environment or a cool sci-fi but without an exciting plot, it’s just a backdrop without a foreground scene. 

It’s hard to come up with a plot that’s not overused and keep it together with your vision for the story. Sometimes I think to myself, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have a story set two thousand years ago from the point of view of a person that lived in Jesus’s town?”

Well, yeah, maybe. Sounds like a cool idea. buttt…what would you write in it? What would be the meat of the book? Certainly not just “Oh, and I saw this guy preaching. He had some cool ideas”. You have to have a PLOT. In this case, perhaps an inner struggle of a strictly jewish man that grew up in poverty who becomes an avid follower. Okay, good start. What else? Perhaps this man has his new beliefs challenged and he has to decide whether he keeps to his new beliefs and becomes an outsider with his friends and family or if he goes for what he believes in?

See, and now we’re getting somewhere but all of that is not enough. It sounds a tad generic but it doesn’t have to be.

Sci-fi books, I feel, have become GENERIC. They’re carriers for the scenes, for the cool tech, for a world an author creates. But what’s forgotten is that the plot itself decides if a book is interesting, if it has substance and can be classified more than just a poorly written piece of fiction. I’m not telling people to appeal to the masses but they need to connect the plot to the setting! If you have a sci-fi, the “sci” should be an inherent part to the story! 

For example, could you have written star wars without the “star” part? Sure thing. You got an easy fantasy novel. Or you could throw it anywhere you want because the plot of the story is a generic “growing up, falling in love, rebelling” kind of a movie. That’s it, really. Nothing else. But what about Dune? Well, it’s based on reality, there’s not much “scifi” but the book requires enough fiction (as far as creating the world goes) in it that it might as well be. The book hinges on visions, it hinges on large “houses” debating, technological struggles, the stark differences between minimalist fremen and imperials. You COULD write this book in a different setting but, it wouldn’t really be the same. It wouldn’t have the same message. Including characters like mentats that were essential.

Best example (often cited) is 2001 Space Odyssey that requires the AI there because that’s the struggle of the story. 

Idk, just a few thoughts. 


---------------------------------- And Later:


So last night, I was tired as hell writing that article and omitted several key points that I actually wanted to mention. And some key examples that I wanted to point out. 

First, I wanted to mention that the ideas that TheIdeaBird puts forth aren’t stories, they’re just settings. They’re hypothetical situations without a real plot, without characters. It’s basically just a cool setting.

Second, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Third, what I think would be cooler is writing a one-page flash fiction story with that “idea” and throw a plot in it, throw some characters in it, and breathe some momentary life.

Fourth, submit that shit to 365tomorrows ;)

Fifth, I think I’ll do that.

So, here’s what’s on my mind. The specific idea that I saw that intrigued me was this:

Explorers come across savages living in the remains of an automated civilization. They determine that the people were all enslaved by their leaders using nanobots. Over time, due to cosmic rays, etc., the nanobots instructions, mutated and they couldn’t reproduce properly. The explorers find the original nanobot programming, and there is great temptation to rebuild a slave society.

That’s a great idea. But where’s the plot? You could discuss the temptation but from whose point of view? Who are the people involved? The idea could easily be expanded and have more meaning with this:

The group of explorers is torn into several sides. Some wishing to recreate the former glorious civilization and learn from them. The split group headed by Jones wanted nothing to do with this evil creation. They loudly oppose the others and become violent in their endeavor to keep Erickson and his split group from activating the nanobots despite the protests, and despite the fact that their country’s response team is on their way. Jones’s group completely separates itself, falls into the city and a young man by the name of Erick finds that his ideology and beliefs are being skewed. As the days of treachery and fights go on between the explorers (something very unusual), Erick recognizes that the nanobots have entered their bloodstream and are converting the group into said mindless slaves. Erick fights it, fighting his friends and co-workers in the process. He struggles to get to the ancient city’s spire to deactivate the process.

By the time the response team gets there. There are thousands of former savages rebuilding and creating infrastructure in the city. The team is nowhere to be found. Over the years, a myth arose in the savage population about a group of aliens that worked alongside them instead of above them. A group that restored their race back to its former glory

Maybe I got a bit carried away there but instead of having one paragraph, you have an entire story including some characters, a basic story, the climax, and the aftermath. It’s more of an outline here, maybe a pitch instead of a setting. I realize the setting has A LOT of potential but it’s really not much without a story that inherently requires the setting. 

I’d love to see this writer expand that one paragraph into three, or four, with a real story behind it ;)



© Tony Jonick 2013