Ideas can’t be copyrighted, so these ideas are free for you to use.
W is for Wainscoting (Skim to the underlined genre or style that best suits you.)
The first thing I do when I think of writing a Romance is take a deep breath, imagine the possibilities, and sort of smile and sigh at the same time.
Robin is hard-set on doing a little cosmetic remodeling to the small bungalow she’d recently inherited, and just thinking about doing the work herself–or at least most of it–fills her with pride. She’s almost glowing with it when she walks into Home Depot, expecting to find just the right shade of wainscoting for the new kitchen that she imagined the old one could be. But she finds more than wainscoting when a pleasant green-eyed man flashes his business card in front of her and says, “If you need that installed, I’m your guy.”
She mentally swoons and orders her knees to stop shaking and palms to stop sweating. “I, um, I’m doing the work myself.”
With a smirk, he looks her petite frame up and down. “You’re kidding, right?”
She squares her shoulders, and the battle to romance begins. (P.S. Robin’s name originally was Jolene, but she decided to change it. You go, Robin! J)
If you want to turn the above scenario into a Mystery, then when Robin comes home after researching how-to’s on home renovation at the library, she notices a few things out of place in the house. Things not missing, but sitting at different angles. An antique clock that always faces the left just a bit now faces straight center on the shelf. The file of papers, death certificate, and the legal will of the previous owner–her great uncle whom she’d never met–has been shuffled through. A few crumbs of moist dirt speckle the carpet, but she had taken her shoes off at the door. Upon further inspection, she finds that same business card, the one from the green-eyed Romeo at Home Depot, on the floor under the desk. She checks her purse and the card she’d been given is still there. Something’s up. She checks the bedroom and stops right there.
Someone has left a stack of boxes of wainscoting. And it wasn’t the wallboard she’d decided on and that would be delivered tomorrow, but rather, a heavier grade and finer quality than she could afford. But how could anyone have known …
She’s too angry to even make a phone call and decides to confront the no-longer-attractive, arrogant intruder face to face instead. His address is on the business card, after all. But when she gets there and he doesn’t answer the door, which is open a crack, she nudges it. A much larger man than the guy she’d met is on the floor, a knife in his chest and blood pooled around him. She swallows the scream in her throat, and having forgotten her cell phone, she eases into the room and borrows the landline. That’s when she recognizes who the dead guy on the floor is–the attorney who handled her great uncle’s estate.
You can take it from there. J
Wainscoting can nestle right into a Literary story, because if you look at it closely, you’ll see a little writing inscribed over the wood butted next to the doorframe. Dates that Dorinda Burgess first started putting there in 1902, and more her daughter added in 1927, and those Aunt Florie added in 1945 and again in 1953 when she moved back to the house after having moved out. And then Mama, divorced like Aunt Florie, brought James and Rachael here in 1979, when Rachael was eight years old. And now here Rachael is again.
Next, decide what those dates signify and how it turned out that the women in this story had all at sometime come back to the same house they’d started their lives in. Though the house has been remodeled many times, the wainscoting has never been replaced. It’s never been painted or re-varnished. The most it has seen is a dust cloth. There are a few cracks, a few stains, and yet this wainscoting has weathered through age and even a winter without heat and it’s still intact. Play with this idea and see how you can shape it into a specific and powerful (though possibly subtle, if you handle it correctly) meaning.
For a Children’s story, imagine that little Luke always wants to help Daddy, but he doesn’t know anything about attaching wainscoting to a wall. Still, he wants to surprise Daddy before he wakes up from his nap, which he’s taking way upstairs.
Armed with hammer and huge nails meant for four-by-four studs, Luke tackles the job. It isn’t the banging that finally wakes Dad; it’s the screaming. And not the screaming Luke did when he clobbered his own thumb, either. No, it’s the frantic scream he lets out when he hits the wainscoting a mite too hard and cracks it. What was it Dad had said about this stuff? The store couldn’t order anymore of this style, but that it was okay because he had the exact amount he needed?
Flesh that little scenario out and do it with love and humor, and you’ll have a great story for kids.
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, historical, or fantasy, please share! Readers will appreciate it.