Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T IS FOR TRAIN!


T is for Train (Skim to the underlined genre or style that best suits you.)

Ideas can’t be copyrighted, so these ideas are free for you to use.

What could be more Romantic than a train ride? Well, maybe Mr. Tall, Handsome, and Funny, unless, of course, he’s on the train, which could ultimately set up the ride of any heroine’s life. So, Miss Lonely is on her way back to grandmother’s house, the only place rent-free where she can piece her life back together after the loss of her job, boss/lover, and the down payment she’d invested in a house she could no longer afford.

What makes this ride worse than the desperation this once-spoiled heroine’s current life holds is that for the first time that she can remember, she’s not just wearing last year’s sandals, but tattered ones from the year before last, and the guy sitting closest to her on this anti-joyride snacks constantly, chews with his mouth full, and probably hasn’t seen a stick of deodorant in months. When she can no longer take the sight or the smell, she squeezes past him into the aisle and moves toward an empty seat. Tripping on the strap of a purse extending into the aisle, she takes a nose dive.

At her service, Mr. Tall, Handsome, and Definitely Not Funny at the Moment, despite his sexy green eyes, rises from his seat to help her, then smirks as he asks, “One cocktail too many?”

Mystery writers can borrow the situation above, but let the smirking gent be someone she knows and possibly fears or despises. She gets into a verbal battering match with him in front of all those traveling witnesses, so naturally she’s the number one suspect when he turns up dead shortly after the next stop, where they both hopped off the train. What was the history between the two? That will help you figure out some of your story, as well as which other characters might have been involved. Who else could be a suspect? Ask what he was doing on the train, opposed to another mode of transportation, or where was he going. These answers might guide you toward the motive for the murder. If you prefer to start with the motive before adding more suspects, figure out a little more about this guy’s life and you’ll soon see why someone other than the protagonist would want him dead.

Literary writers–literary work has more of a character arc rather than a plot arc, though it can have both. Ultimately, however, the growth of the character is far more important than the resolution of any conflicts arising through cause and effect of plot points. Literary work can be self reflective. Maybe the female character in this mystery starts to see a pattern in her life, a sort of loop where she doesn’t fall into bad luck by coincidence the way she had assumed. Instead, she acts subconsciously, stepping into it without looking both ways, and then wonders, how did I get here… Why am I always in these situations? Why does bad luck follow me and not my successful sister?

It’s when she takes a journey that ultimately leads her to the answers of these questions that she finds herself growing into the person she should be, the person she was meant to be, and the person she actually wants to be, whether she knows it yet or not. She’ll now discover, at least in some small way, where she fits in relation to humanity.

What could happen in the world of young adults when a teen is so busy texting that she doesn’t realize she missed her stop and has now taken a train ride 300 miles from where she’s supposed to be? What’s worse, she got off the train, used the public restroom, and left not realizing she’d forgotten the clutch with her money in it. Had her pockets been picked? Time to make a phone call, but after all that cell phone use, the tiny machine in its gleaming pink case is as dead as she’s going to be when she doesn’t show up at Aunt Meg’s ranch, where she was sentenced to work for a month because her grades, apparently, did not reflect her potential. Her mother said, “You’re so busy trying to build a social life that you’re forgetting about the other important parts to life.” Maybe it’s just as well her phone died. Calling Mom didn’t sound so good right now anyway.

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.

Happy writing!

 

 

 

72 comments:

  1. I went on a train on Monday, only an hours ride to put some flowers on my late husband's grave.
    Again another great post and full of good ideas.
    Yvonne.

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    1. Thanks, Yvonne, and I'm sorry for your loss.

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  2. Terrific post Debi thank you. As you say, taking a train means a journey - going somewhere, planned or not. Perhaps the hero/ine on a train is in reflective mode, from one continent to another, planning a murder or re-conciliation ..
    Into my 'special' file you go - thank you for these wonderful journeying ideas.
    Garden of Eden Blog

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  3. Trains - I knew a couple who eloped in the early days of WWII. He was in the Air Force, stationed in Louisiana, and she hopped a train in Cincinnati and rode in a boxcar all the way to Louisiana to marry him. Now, when I met them they were a very refined couple. He was a retired AF officer. They had a trove of warm, humorous stories of their early years together, and were still married to each other up until their deaths a few years ago. How romantic is that!
    I love your prompts. I should save them for when I'm finished with the A-Z and have time to write.

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    1. Wow. That is romantic. And I know what you mean about waiting until after the A to Z to have any time to write. :-)

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  4. I absolutely LOVE your romantic liaisons and what could be. It sends me off into a beautiful place of dreams!

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  5. I know there's lots of ideas here for horror but I need more coffee to think them through. :)

    And I agree with Michelle and you - my WiP keeps whispering to me. I tell it soon, soon. :)

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    1. Yes. And the whispering is getting louder. :-)

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  6. Hi Debi, So nice to meet you and I so enjoyed your wonderful blog. Your writings are full of adventure and interest. Love it here and thank you for visiting me this morning and your kind comment with new following. I will give your request great thought and get in touch again soon. At the moment I am a little swamped with work, but always up for a new challenge.
    Enjoy the day.
    Hugs!!
    Celestina Marie

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    1. Thank you so much, and don't forget to take time to relax a little. We all need that.

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  7. Much can happen on a train, from throwing momma from a train to strangers on a train to a silver streak lol

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    1. Throwing Mama from a train--that could put some tension in a story all right.

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  8. I immediately thought , when she was helped by the man with green eyes that she noticed he was dressed differently. By tripping she ended up in another time and is unsure how she got there or what will happen next. Love the teen story line and I can see that happen for real

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  9. I recently wrote a chapter book where much of it is set on a train. Nothing can be more fun for a child than taking a train ride!

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    1. It seems like it would be in the top ten of exciting. :-)

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  10. How cool that you are spinning ideas for A-Z. These are some great ones. I like the teen idea the best, but then again, I write for teens the most. The train is awesome, and really gorgeous to take around where I live.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and for the follow, Shell. I appreciate it.

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  11. For the newspaper I write for, the editor requested a short story featuring a train ride. It was fun to write an entire story on a train.

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    1. Cool. I used to write for a newspaper too, and they had me write about the history of the train that ran through town, and the depot, which is still there. I did interview a few older residents who took their first train rides from there, and it was great fun learning all about it.

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  12. I like the romantic train ride idea the most!! There can be so many possibilities. :D
    Great ideas you have shared and love your theme too :)
    Shilpa Garg
    Co-Host AJ's wHooligan for the A to Z Challenge 2014

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  13. The first thing I thought of when I saw T is for Train is the band of the same name (Train). They are one of my favorites. So, what happens when a group of friends go to a Train concert???? Romance, mystery, a literary revelation? Hmmm. Or just a good time:)

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    1. At a concert I'm betting all those genres could be incorporated and work. :-)

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  14. Awesome idea for a theme!

    Just stopped by to thank you for following my blogs. :-)

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  15. You certainly provide a lot of good ideas for plots! I like the mystery one.

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  16. I've seen tons of "running for your love" tropes involving trains. :)

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  17. Nothing more romantic than a train ride with the male character who happens to be tall dark and handsome ... and maybe an undercover police detective, who is seducing the murderess as she tries to get away -- mystery & romance. And danger. :)

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    1. Excellent suggestions, Silvia. Thanks!

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  18. fun plot lines. Trains have a lure. What about someone who's left home with no goal or place to land. - just rides the trains "finding" himself. Quite an adventure can ensue

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    1. Yes – a lot of adventures could come about. Thanks for stopping by.

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  19. Love your romance/mystery suggestion!

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  20. A very sweet romance story could take place on a train. :)

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  21. Trains are such a part of writing/reading for me. Every year, twice a year, I and my partner take a train across the country. It's a fantastic experience and one thing you're guaranteed is plenty of quiet time for writing or reading. :)

    The Immarcescible Word

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  22. With a train...gotta be romance AND mystery.

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  23. wow, brilliant post, which reminds me, must search out the story I had about a train, a girl and an apocalyptic future...

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    1. Yes, dig that one up. It sounds great!

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  24. Having commuted to work for a number of years I sure can't see anything romantic about trains but I know many do. Modern trains seem to have improved tremendously though.

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  25. Thank you for stopping by and signing on. I believe I'll enjoy reading along here.

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    1. Glad to see you here, Joanne. I love your voice in your writing!

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  26. I love the beginning of the story on the train. Riding on a train back in the days of the Santa Fe Depot seems romantic when I go to that old train stop, but riding the Metrolink today I know it is not quite that way. I feel bad for the poor lady, sitting next to mr. smelly.

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    1. Thank you for your input, and thanks for stopping by.

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  27. I can't seem to skip to my favorite genre...I have to read them all!!!

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  28. I like trains. Rode the 1880s train a few years ago it SD. Fun! Someone thought she saw buffalo and got all excited. They were cows.

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    1. Hah! Thanks for the laugh. Hee-hee. Still laughing.

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  29. I love trains. When I was in Panama in the army in 1971, I used to ride the train from one end of the canal to the other. We'd sit on the back car of the train with our legs dangling off the platform and watch the jungle slide by in slow motion. It's a surreal memory.
    Jilda and I are thinking about riding the City of New Orleans to the Crescent City for our 40th anniversary.
    R

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    1. That should make for a memorable anniversary. :-)

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  30. Good ideas. Trains mesh so well with mysteries--add an element of history and certainly offer opportunities for suspense.

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  31. As I am on my personal quest in putting the jigsaw pieces of my life and also an eternal romantic your Romantic and Literary genres resonated. Thanks so much for dropping by my blog.

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    1. Thank you for the return visit, too. :-)

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  32. How many mysteries or spy movies have taken place on a train? Lots. It's a great setting for any story.

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    1. I'd like to see you add a train in one of your stories, because you always have the mystical element, so that would be cool with a train.

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  33. A train is a fantastic prompt... SO many possibilities!
    I can't help thinking of the classic I Love Lucy when she, her family, and the Mertzes ride by train back to NYC from Hollywood. SO funny!

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    1. I LOVED that episode! But then, I loved them all. :-)

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  34. Great prompt, I love a good mystery on a train.
    Maggie@expatbrazil

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  35. I am fascinated by trains; not sure why, but I love the look of them and the sounds they make. They are a great setting for stories, especially mysteries!

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    1. I love their sound, too, unless I'm trying to sleep. :-)

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