An Idea-Breeding Article

In today’s Journal

* An Idea-Breeding Article
* By the Way (the novel)
* There’s a post
* Of Interest

An Idea-Breeding Article

Note: I will share several ideas for a story based on the post I mention below. Please share your ideas in the comments too. You can’t copyright an idea anyway, right? Might as well share it and let everyone get some practice. (grin)

This is not, as you might expect, especially for science fiction writers. This event and its fallout could be included in mystery, thriller, crime and other genres as well. Even romance, I suppose. I recommend this three-step process to use the article to generate story ideas:

1. Take a moment to read “This new VR headset will kill you if you die in an online game” at

This is not fiction. It’s real. So here’s your first string of story ideas:

  • How many people has this game killed so far?
  • Who is liable?
  • Can we allow for personal responsibility here (so are recipients/players of the game required to sign a consent form absolving all others of responsibility in case the player falls short and is killed)?
  • Or do we blame the game developer?
  • Or the companies that sell the game?
  • Or the government(s) for allowing the game?
  • Do the citizens riot and scream for “game control laws” or do they sleep through it as long as it doesn’t directly affect them?

2. Extrapolate. What if the federal or world government run with this? In a dystopian future, this might easily be a “fun” method of population control. That notion alone gave me several story ideas:

  • Maybe the game is compulsory every year beginning at a certain age. BUT if you play and live through it, you’re awarded a 5 or 10 year exemption before you’re compelled to play again.
  • Change the length of the exemption to suit the world in which your story takes place, the dominant religion, etc. (e.g., the exemption is 7 years for good luck, etc.).
  • Maybe everyone has to play but instead of the headset killing you automatically if you fail to reach a certain point you are put to death by the state.
  • Are exemption certificates tranferrable either for profit (which the player’s family could use after the player is killed) or free (donated to a loved one in lieu of that person having to play the game)?
  • Would there soon be a burgeoning black market for exemption certificates, both authentic and forged?
  • Write from the viewpoint of someone who’s used to this future society, someone for whom this is the norm. Perhaps one spouse wins the game and earns an exemption and the other spouse is due to play next month. Note: For me, other story ideas abound from this one idea all by itself.
    • Does the exempted one hold the exemption back as a surprise birthday present?
    • Does the other spouse believe the first has decided not to transfer the exemption?
    • Will one spouse give up life for the other?
    • Will a spouse TAKE the life of the other to get the exemption?
    • Whichever way s/he chooses, does that spouse then learn the excemption certificate is fake?
    • And on and on and on.
  • Write (horror?) from the viewpoint of someone from the past who “wakes up” to this new, strange reality. (Maybe someone who was cryogenically preserved until a certain date.)
  • Write the player’s story.
  • Write the executioner’s story (if the game itself doesn’t kill the player).
  • Wriite the story of the game designer. Why would s/he design such a game or headset in the first place?
  • And of course, write the story(ies) of the individual or band who chooses to break away from this society and live on their own somewhere.
  • (Hmmm. So are there walled cities? Citizen-control boundaries? Electro-shock implants or collars or …?)

Of course this deadly serious VR game/headset might also be used for some purpose other than population control. And then the technology itself (not the game or headset) might also be used for other nefarious purposes.

So how might this technology be used? Again, please share your ideas in the comments. Here are a couple to get you started.

  • a threat to a national or international leader? (your hero or heroine will try to save the leader)
  • a replacement for or adjunct to the prenuptial agreement (to ensure the spouse’s fidelity)

Run. Play. Enjoy. And don’t forget to share your own story ideas in the comments.

By the Way (the novel)

My ploy yesterday didn’t work. At all. I came out eary to write, became interested in other things, and didn’t write a word on my novel. I’m really looking forward to this one being over, too. I’m getting tired of it. I’ve lived with it for an entire month. That’s far too long.

There’s a post

in “Of Interest” on how to “Write a Sympathetic Villain….” There are probably some gems to be gleaned from the post.

However, it must be said that if you trust your characters, you won’t have to “give” or “assign” any of them anything. Their traits, quirks, and well-rounded personalities will emerge as you get to know them (and as you write the story) just as personality emerges when you get to know anyone you’ve only just met.

If you don’t believe me, try it. You will be amazed.

Talk with you again soon.

(May you have a thoughtful Veteran’s Day, or as Marines call it after partying the night before for the USMC birthday, Recovery Day.) (grin)

Of Interest

See “What’s In Your Closet?” at

See “In Defense of King George” at Fascinating. Characters are ALWAYS more than stereotypes.

See “What the ruling against the PRH-S&S merger means for the publishing business” at Nothing, really, for indie publishers. But see PG’s interesting take.

See “Write a Sympathetic Villain Your Readers Will Love to Hate” at Probably some gems in this.

See “In Defense of King George” at Fascinating. Characters are ALWAYS more than stereotypes.

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 970 words

Writing of The Stirchians (novel, tentative title)

Day 11… 2337 words. Total words to date…… 30836
Day 12… 2115 words. Total words to date…… 32951
Day 13… 2242 words. Total words to date…… 35193
Day 14… 1325 words. Total words to date…… 36518
Day 15… 1006 words. Total words to date…… 37524
Day 16… 2532 words. Total words to date…… 40056
Day 17… 2759 words. Total words to date…… 42815
Day 18… 1740 words. Total words to date…… 44555

Total fiction words for November……… 11604
Total fiction words for the year………… 173129
Total nonfiction words for November… 7510
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 183140
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 356269

Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 2
Calendar Year 2022 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2022 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 68
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: Because It Makes Sense, I preach trusting your characters to tell the story that they, not you, are living. Duh. This practice greatly increases your productivity and provides a rapid ascension along the learning curve of Craft because you get a great deal more practice at actually writing. This is not opinion. It is all numbers and facts.

9 thoughts on “An Idea-Breeding Article”

  1. My first thought is that’s almost a perfect cover-up for murder.

    Assuming the game is supposed to be PVE, but another player comes in PVP using a bot account…how would anyone realize it actually was murder, as opposed to, oh, Johnny Joe wasn’t as good a player as he thought he was? Then how would you track down the player who came in on the bot account, especially if said account was deleted?

    There could also be a psychological thriller out of it, goading someone to suicide in the game, but again it looks like an accident (as above).

    A (twisted?) romance could come out of it by two characters competing in game rather than real life for a third’s hand, as it were.

    I doubt I’ll ever write any of these, but thanks for sharing and sparking!

    • Thanks for sharing and sparking what I hope will be a lively discussion, Peggy.

      Interesting twist on the romance thing.

  2. I’ve always wanted to write a VR story like this (where if you die in the game you die in real life). I’m a huge fan of the novel series and Anime Sword Art Online that uses the same basic premise.
    The idea that has ‘seeded’ itself in my mind for a long time now revolves around a main character who enters a VR tournament to win money to pay for his mother’s cancer treatment, not knowing how deadly things will get.

  3. I can see a young man sighing up for this with the expectations of winning big that will set him up for life. Probably say they would spend months , maybe a year or two training for this particular game with a given start date where they all compete with others just like them. Say maybe a jet fighter game where they shoot each other down and there is only one winner. I can even see the winner being rewarded with a silly medal for this by whoever our silly president is at the the time for his bravery and act of heroism. I can also see veterans who were in actual wars getting upset with this as well. Call of duty game being one of them as gamers participate in fake wars with consequences.

    Which leads me to a quick story here.
    A friend of mine was a Marine Corps recruiter. He had a kid walk in his office and told him he wanted to go to war and kill people and he was ready because he’s been practicing his game. He told the kid he was not ready and to get the ##$&$#@ out of his office.
    So I can see some young kid signing up for this which will eventually lead to his demise.

    • Great comment, Chris. Three or four more ideas just from what you wrote above. Thanks.

      And thanks for the memory. I was a USMC recruiter for awhile too. One day a kid (around 6’4″, all-American) walked in, put his fists on his hips, and announced himself as a “first-dan black belt in one martial art, and a third-day black belt in another martial art, plus more blah blah blah” BS.

      I rocked back in my chair and looked him up and down. Then I said, “We use guns” and went back to reading my newspaper. 🙂 He came back in a few days later, considerably more humble, and I signed him up.

      • 🤣 “We use guns.” Now that’s a line.

        Sorry for adding my idea under this comment thread. Couldn’t find the general comment box.

        I’d seen the article headline, I think, two days ago or so and I actually got an idea from it that day. Probably wouldn’t write it but here it goes.

        (Also… While doing the laundry today, I got an opening line that I think would work. “You thought I was dead but I only just started living.)

        So, my idea is in three stages..
        Stage one: The game starts to kill people outside.
        Stage two: You can get sucked into the game. You literally become the character in the game. Die there. You die out here too. (So, I see characters who thought they would be saved losing their lives) This could also be combined with stage one.
        Stage three: If you do exit the game, you get the powers your character in the game get BUT if the game goes off, you DIE.

        Now, why does this happen? I believe the discovery of this is where the story lies.

        Also, I think the opening line I posted earlier belongs at the beginning of stage three.

        This was fun 😁

        • Also adding to this, based off the crypotogentically preserved individuals and population control. Now, they have to earn their right to live. They were to be out to death but an activist manages to secure them one more chance at life from the government. I’m guessing, in this case, that the game also have to serve some other purpose other than population control… Because it would be easier to put them to death.

          Provides entertainment to the living masses and generates income for the government or whosever is in charge. I have a strong feeling in this case that the government is not in charge… Or rather, all is not as it seems. 😈

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