What Doesn’t Kill You… Makes a Great Plot Twist

Writers have noisy minds. They have to. Everything they see, touch, overhear (sometimes by accident), and experience is fodder for the story mill. It goes in, swirls around the sense of possibility and probability like berries in a blender and matches up or rejects a million other experiences. When it comes out, it’s unrecognizable from the original event in form, but not in substance.

A snippet of conversation in a restaurant can give rise to an entire short story. A beat-up shoe spotted in the breakdown lane of a highway tells a tale of heartbreak. A woman in a formal dress on the bandstand at Alabama Jack’s on the Card Sound Road in Florida sparks a million stories. What was that woman doing in a biker restaurant/bar? You can read my version of her story in an old True Romance magazine. A plastic bag floating out of the window of a sunken ship became the inciting incident of one of my books. The bag morphed into a hand. A cold, dead, hand.brainstormer

Some ideas arrive full blown and ready to write. Others take a lot more work. Writer’s these days are lucky. There’s an app for that! A writer friend of mine shared her addiction to two that she uses. Brainstormer and Story Cube. Both are available for iPhone and who knows what all else. Brainstormer looks like a slot machine and sounds like a roulette wheel. There’s a wheel mode too that looks steampunk. Spin the wheels (or shake your phone—more fun) and see what turns up. The categories are combinations of plot/conflict, style/setting, and subject/location. I’ve got vengeance for a crime, animal kingdom, hotel lobby. I think I’ll take another spin. Or write a noir about the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.story-cubes

Story Cube has nine dice that roll with the press of an icon. Each die face shows a random character and voila, a story is created, the one I’m looking at now has a turtle, skydiver, lock (closed), clock, open book, airplane, letter, and a lightning bolt. All I’m saying is so much for that skydiver, his time has run out.

If none of those work, there’s always self-help books. One of my favorites is the Write About series. It’s a book of prompts with space to write. To be honest, the prompts have never sparked much for me in terms of story writing, but the act of writing has served to uncork the genie from the bottle.

Now that we’re hip deep in the holiday season, you might want to check out some of these ideas.

What do you do when you’re running on creative empty?

Author photos 009Kait Carson lives in an airpark in south central Florida with a pilot husband, eight tropical birds, and six rescue cats. By day, she’s a practicing probate and litigation paralegal, in the evening, legal pads give way to a keyboard, and she spins tales of murder and mayhem set in the tropical heat. Kait writes two series, the Catherine Swope series, set in Miami, and the Hayden Kent series set in the Fabulous Florida Keys.

Kait loves to hear from readers, check out her website at www.kaitcarson.com; follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kaitcarsonauthor, on Twitter at @kaitcarson, or e-mail her at kait.carson@gmail.com.





13 thoughts on “What Doesn’t Kill You… Makes a Great Plot Twist

  1. I am overflowing with ideas. I use the notepad app on my phone to record them and have, probably, a good half dozen decent ideas waiting. I just can’t write fast enough! But, I never realised you could get apps to give you ideas. That is so great! Now I know what to do if I suddenly manage to write those books and then dry up. It’s amazing isn’t it, how there really is an app for everything.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Rebecca, good to hear from you.

    Yes, there does seem to be an app for everything. I am going to take a page from your book and start using notes on my phone. I keep a physical notebook and find myself flipping pages manically when I’m looking for the right story idea. Even though I mark the page tops with the type of idea it is (blog, novel, short, etc.). The phone would work much better, and it’s always with me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi All,

    One of the December traditions in my family is decking the halls with computer hell. Unfortunately, this year is no exception, we bought two new computers this weekend alone! Our modem is in its death throes, and the new one won’t arrive until tomorrow. I will check in as the gods of connectivity and Century Link allow and respond when able.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very very nice post Kait. I especially liked the first paragraph. I wish my noisy mind would calm down today. I feel like one of those round, clear paperweights that you shake up and they are full of bits of snow flying everywhere. I am waiting for the snow to settle. I like all your interesting apps. I too have notebooks filled with partially written stories, bits of chapters, passwords, and thumb through them frantically quite often. It sounds haphazard but it works for me as I know what is in each. My New Years Resolution is to stack them and throw out all the backs of envelopes I have written plots on. I absolutely intend to confine the chaos. It’s too bad we are at the mercy of computer products in order to communicate. Good luck with connectivity.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. So true, MJ. I once tried to organize all my paper story ideas on my computer for the purposes of ease of search. Long story short, the media changed, and changed, and changed the information was lost to cyber whatever. Now, I keep my notebooks. I like your resolution. Good luck with it!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean Blue Haven. I confess I used Brainstormer for a red herring storyline in my latest WIP. I was stuck and it was fun, and it worked–after a bit of trial and error of course! Story Cube makes a great party game. Especially with people who tell you they don’t have a creative bone in their bodies.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Alas, no apps for me. I don’t own a cell phone–never have–probably never will. I HAVE talked on one a couple of times, but have never made a call. Total time I’ve talked on one of those critters is probably five minutes, give or take. My wife does have one of those “pay as you go” phones in her car for emergency purposes. Neither one of us knows the number by heart–no kidding. Even if I had one of those fancy smartass phones, how would I use it? I can’t see anything on such small screens (do people really watch movies & TV on those things?), and forget about those miniature “keyboards” I hear they come with. No texting in my future!

    I have ideas jotted down on scraps of paper scattered about. I’d have to really search if I needed to find something in particular, and even then the odds of finding it would be against me. I had a notebook or two, but someone must’ve stolen it or them while I wasn’t looking. I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll say it again: I’m probably one of the most disorganized people on the planet. I suppose I’ll have to rely on my senses to come up with ideas. Too bad though, I’m half blind and the VA says I qualify for hearing aids (too much shooting and explosions during my wayward Marine Corps youth). Poor me.

    Anyway, very interesting post, Kait. App away, all you smartphone owners. I’ll be wandering around in the dark doing the “touchy–feely” thing. 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL – I resisted for the longest time, but with all our moves, it’s nice to have a number that follows you! It’s funny, I don’t use any apps often, but I like having them when I need them. Someday, I figure they will come in handy. For what? Who knows.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed, I have. It looks like mine on a normal day! But before I write, I have to organize and straighten. It’s a ritual I think, because by the end of the writing session – I’m getting condemnation notices from the Board of Health.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You are so right about the noisy mind! I have a notebook which I tote around with me and I also use Evernote to jot down ideas on my phone. Like some of your other readers, I have tried to think of ways to have a single place for all of this potential brilliance but there is something about flicking through my old notebooks and seeing a phrase or a scribbled line which then sets off a story idea that just works for me. The phone is great, too, and I will have a look at the apps you mentioned. Thanks for a thought provoking post!


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