I collect and hoard story starters from here, there and everywhere (Alexis grew from the juxtaposition of two fascinating anecdotes shared by my hairdresser), but my all-time favorite source is the BBC website.
Most weeks I stumble across something weird or wonderful that makes my brain fizz. I bookmark them in a folder called ‘story stuff’ and forget about them until I’m looking for ideas or inspiration or just something a little different to get the wheels turning.
I had one of those days today, so I took a stroll through my story stuff file. There are more than a hundred nuggets in there, but here are a trio of good ones.
A sci-fi classic:
Making Babies Without Eggs or Sperm
Click here for an article on experiments carried out by scientists at the University of Bath, who managed to persuade mice sperm to fertilize ‘pseudo embryo’ cells rather than eggs.
Speculating on the wider implications of their work, one of the researchers explained that in the distant future it might be possible for sperm to combine with ordinary cells in the body to create a child. Which could exclude women entirely from the reproductive process. Two men could have a baby without the need for a female cell, or a man could even fertilize his own cells to make a sort of non-identical twin.
The article also makes reference to a separate line of research being pursued in China, where scientists were able to make sperm from stem cells. Combine the two fields of research, and it might become possible to create a child without the need for sperm or eggs.
Setting aside for a moment all scientific, political and ethical considerations, the story potential here is endless, and not only for sci-fi fans.
Or here’s something historical and/or paranormal:
Bodies really were decapitated to stop the dead rising
Human bones excavated by Historic England and researchers from Southampton University from a deserted medieval village at Wharram Percy in North Yorkshire show that corpses were decapitated, mutilated and burned to stop people rising from the dead. Knife marks were found on 137 bones dating from the 11th to the 14th century. Click here to read the full story.
Whoo! Vampire village, anyone?
Or how about an adventure/suspense mystery:
World War 2 Shipwrecks disappear from Java seabed
Click here for an article about two Dutch ships, three British ones, and a US submarine, which were sunk by the Japanese navy during the Second World War, and which have apparently disappeared from their resting places on the seabed in Java.
Quite apart from the distressing suggestion that sailors’ graves have been disturbed, the article suggests that the ocean is so deep it would have been impractical and nigh-impossible to salvage the wrecks. And yet there are apparently large holes in the seabed where the ships had previously rested.
I’m thinking James Bond, or even better, something Clive Cussler-esque?
I’m intrigued by all these ideas, but my imagination is especially piqued by the idea that we truly can anticipate a world where children could be created without women. What kind of children would they be? And in that very different world how would romance, and love, and great sex, survive?
Which story starter would you pick, and what kind of story would you tell?