P is for Path (Skim to the underlined genre or style that best suits you.)
Ideas can’t be copyrighted, so the ideas I will be posting are free for you to use.
Think about the path to Romance in your own life. Now think about two people who are physically taking paths in the opposite direction. Then think about a unique way in which those two opposing paths will somehow end at the same place, or come to the same crossroad. Think of this metaphorically as a well as literally. Consider that dirt road she had a flat tire on. He just happens by in his sporty car, offers her a ride, which she decides against for safety reasons. Without even knowing her, he’s concerned for her safety, too. Some weirdo might not accept no for an answer.
So, he tails a safe distance behind her, on the lookout for weirdoes in her path. At some juncture, their paths will cross and hero and heroine will meet again. They’ll run into a few rocks in the road, kick them aside and, still tattered and weary from their journeys, come to a truce and live happily ever after. Think about the characters whispering in your minds. What brought them to the roads they took, and what propelled them forward?
Mystery enthusiasts, it was on a bright and sunny day that your sleuth took a jog down his or her regular path, then, hoping for new scenery, took a detour on a cobblestone walkway, where a dead body lay. It’s his neighbor. A young single mother with a four-year-old boy now left with no one. Little Jimmy. The boy your sleuth was teaching how to play T-ball. So when your sleuth goes back to check on Jimmy and discovers he isn’t there, he has to wonder–was this a kidnapping that went sour and resulted in the murder of the kidnapped child’s mother? Maybe she didn’t have the ransom, and maybe she was afraid to go to the police because of a threat, or maybe the boy is staying at a relative’s house and isn’t the victim of kidnapping after all. Sleuth decides to do a little digging. Calling upon the grandparents only made things worse, because they were sprawled out bloody and beaten on their kitchen floor. Now what? There’s still no sign of little Jimmy. There’s no father in the picture; he was killed in a car wreck years ago.
In Literary fiction, the idea of a path, metaphorically and literally, shows up often. It can be the inner journey we take, or the external, as long as in some way it sheds insight into the human condition. It might answer the question, why are we here or what purpose was meant for me? It’s not enough to endure long travels, whether exhausting or adventurous or both–the journey must not only define a specific character, but it should say something about what it is to be, period. The story might have a circular feel, following the choices a character makes to a deeper understanding of what it all means in a bigger sense than just to that specific character and immediate family. What does it say about the human condition? It might be simply that we are who we are, and that whoever that is, we stand for something larger than ourselves, yet not monumental or anything for history books in the future. This literary story will dive into the path it takes a character to understand a small part of the human condition. Consider the circle of violence being passed from generation to generation until at some point, one family member breaks free and changes the mold. That can be a literary journey. A literary path might be shown symbolically, yet in a physical sense by following the blood flow from vein to heart and back again, which parallels some event in a character’s life.
Children or young adults can people a story with a path in much the same way that other genres can. The path can reflect a child’s goal, showing each step the child takes toward that goal, or even a visual of the gravel road the child travels to get from point A to point C. For young adults, the outward path will parallel the inner travels of going from adolescence to adulthood. Shereen practiced basketball every night, often missing the social life her friends enjoyed. She put everything she had into getting an athletic scholarship. But when her husbandless mother is diagnosed with cancer, new choices come in to Shereen’s life.
Note–I was going to write about procrastination for the letter P, because it’s been on my mind quite a bit during this challenge. My good friend Silvia Villalobos (at Silvia Writes) warned me that I should really get a head start on all these blog articles and have them in a file before April 1. “I will, I will,” I said, then went about my business working on everything else. I did get a few articles prewritten, but that’s it. And I’ve been kicking myself ever since. Kudos to those of you who wrote about procrastination today. I’m too mad about the word to grace it with my story prompts.
What ideas can you pull off the top of your head? If you can offer some in genres I didn’t cover, such as horror, sci-fi, or fantasy, please share! Readers will appreciate it.