Michaeline: Brainstorm Saturday

Imagination magazine cover, March 1955. A full robot with antennae and flashing lights helps a stylish young housewife in a red jumpsuit with her groceries, but manages to bash the eggs all over her floating maroon trunk (of her car). Lots of "Oh, no! Oh, no, no, no!"
Story seeds! Use your imagination, and pass on the ideas that are right, but not right for you. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

I’ve got a really cool video that just provokes all sorts of ideas in my head for stories. So, if you need a little bit of inspiration, grab a pencil and some paper, and try this:

  • Remember the rule is no self-editing. Jot down quick notes about what comes to you – edit your list later.
  • You don’t HAVE to like robots in order to get ideas from the video. You can pretend they are real people, and see what comes to you. (But don’t deny the weirdo SFF ideas, either – they may spark new ideas in your later.
  • Watch this video (“Do You Love Me?” Boston Dynamics, 2:54), and take notes:
  • Aw, go on, watch it one more time and see what comes up.
  • Any ideas that seem kind of cool, but you have no interest in exploring? Share them in the comments below so someone else can run with them! Kind of like the Poughkeepsie Idea Service!

So, I’m going to share some of the ideas that came to me during this video. It really was inspirational. (And if you want to run with them, go ahead! What you do with these seeds is going to be completely different from anything I do with these seeds.)

  • Robots in Love. What would happen if we taught robots to love? Particularly, if we tried to program them with the commonsense “rules” that society tries to program into us? Would robots find themselves falling helplessly in love with the wrong robot, anyway? I haven’t read all of The Murderbot Diaries, but I feel the Law Of Unintended Side Effects of Programming would be strong in a story like this, just like for Murderbot.
  • Engineers in love. Working on these robots make two human engineers discover each other, and fall madly in love! Very traditional take.
  • Choreographer and a robot slowly fall in love. Bob Fosse vibes? Pygmalion vibes? Or just a plain ol’ love story based on mutual respect and a “crush” that’s based on someone’s mad skills turning into something deeper?
  • So You Think Your Robot Can Dance? Contest. A bright, fizzy, melodramatic comedy of humans, semi-intelligent robots, choreographers, engineers, dog trainers and costume designers. A real Soap Opera of a Space Opera!
  • The Robots and The Night Security. OK, this could be a simple body-guard style romance, where a robot falls in love with the watchwoman (or watchman) who guards him/her/them. And vice versa. Or, we could let the AI robots take the place of the Fair Folk, and have their own night parties (see Toy Story), and let the human security guard spy on the frolics and get caught up in the festivities . . . and be allowed three wishes. The story that vibes with this for me is the Japanese folk tale about the Two Men with Large Lumps on their Faces who spy on the frolicking ogres to very different results.

(Great summary of the fairytale on Wikipedia.

(Reading through the story again, it also suggests to me that a modern tie-in with a robotic Dr. Pimple Popper ((as seen on YouTube)) could be trendy and metaphoric.)

So, that’s five really fun ideas I could dive into this week. Or help yourself! Did you find anything juicy in the video?

6 thoughts on “Michaeline: Brainstorm Saturday

  1. My ideas weren’t as fleshed out or as romantic as yours, but….
    After the initial “Holy crap! that’s so frickin’ awesome!”

    -what could this mean for limb replacement, towards cyborg, what would happen if someone started stealing robot to use them as bodypart replacements for humans who needed them?

    -robo-dogs: no more dead pets, robo pack animals for treks (especially into dangerous places), robo farm/work animals, also would these changes suddenly elevate animals to sentient beings with some sort of being-hood or person-hood status, would animals evolve now that they have time and resources to learn, grow in and develop arts, etc. (because they weren’t subservient workers any more)

    -space exploration- unmanned – somehow through it’s/their journeys they gain a “life”, maybe the robot and the ship fall in love.

  2. Here’s my cynicism showing: I didn’t believe the “people” robots were actual robots. They reminded me of a demonstration I’d seen years ago about the future of animation—which turned out to be what happened, or at least one way of how animation developed. In that methodology, actors put on sensors at every joint. And then they act/move per the requirements of the script. The sensors feed data into animation software that generates a “skin,” or framework, onto which animators put whatever creature they want to build—a werewolf, a dog, Shrek, whatever. And the movement is very lifelike because, hey, humans did it. And it’s much, much faster than doing stop-motion animation or claymation. So in this clip I thought that’s what they did: actors created the skin, and animators built a robot creature. And one reason I thought this was because during part of the dance sequence, the robots, which surely could have been programmed to do the exact same movements, did not move exactly the same. So maybe they’re actual robots, maybe they’re not. That gives rise to a whole different set of stories!

  3. Hello 8Ls!
    I’ve been holding a question for a suitable post and the story “seeds” and ‘no one will write the same story’ is close enough for me.
    Here’s my question-do any of you ever have concerns about sharing your unfinished work with a book funnel/editing/story site? I’m not sure what they are called but sometimes I get the “share your first chapter” or “intro your main character” contest entry. I have an idea but time and opportunity keep me from finishing so I don’t want to reveal anything too early. Am I being too guarded? Should I embrace early criticism?
    I appreciate your feedback, or even hope for a future blog on what to be wary of/open to in relation to a WIP.

    • I’m sorry I took so long to get back to you. I was gardening, and haven’t opened the computer all week.

      I think we all might have different answers. Some of us Ladies are very paranoid about losing our work to pirates; personally, I don’t know if it’s a problem if my hope is to get more people to read my work. But then again, I just write short stuff. A court case, if it came to that, would provide publicity and more people would know about me, I guess, if someone stole one of the short stories off the site and called it their own. Professional publishers probably have plagiarism bots that would turn up my story on Eight Ladies, and lead them to reject any short stories that weren’t under Michaeline Duskova.

      I think the first thing to do is identify how you would feel if someone “stole” your work or your idea. Do you feel you have only a finite number of stories in you, and it would hurt terribly? Or do you think you could survive it and spin it into publicity? If in doubt, keep your best stuff a secret until you are confident it’s ready to be shown.

      Second, if you find a book editing co-op on the internet (some sort of open source project?) that produces brilliant criticism, I think it would be worth the risk. You might try out your third-best idea to see if it works for you.

      What you learn publicly can then be applied to your private “best” ideas, and help you grow as a writer.

      What we 8Ladies did was take a series of classes together, and finding a local workshop or creative writing class after the Corona Crisis is over might be a good option for you . . . and then there are all the online options. I see several people giving classes for SFF writing; they advertise on Twitter. I haven’t seen it so much in the Romance Twitter I follow. Ask your teacher about “what is plagiarism, and what is piracy, and what classroom policies do you have in place regarding the two?” That might help ease your mind, or decide to look for a different class.

      Writer friends, writing buddies . . . they are important for a variety of reasons. They can help you improve your stories as you help them improve as well. But they can also support you and help make a fuss if someone plagiarizes your words.

      I hope this helps. This would make a great topic for a whole post, to be honest.

      OH, and in the SFF field for sure, and possibly they work in the romance field as well, Victoria Strauss’ “Writer Beware” has a good reputation for finding shady publishers and scams that target writers.

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