Ideas can’t be copyrighted, so these ideas are free for you to use.
Y is for Yodel (Skim to the underlined genre or style that best suits you.)
Romance. Kirsten wanted to stay home, but Janessa wouldn’t take no for an answer and hauled her down to the karaoke bar, because the owners were doing something different tonight. A yodeling contest. Seriously? Fine, she’d go, but no way would she stand up there and yap like a hillbilly. But her plan didn’t go so well when Janessa enlisted a couple of patrons to help tote Kirsten to center stage.
Laughing more out of embarrassment than enjoyment, Kirsten couldn’t get out even one yodel. Then Janessa had the gall to ask the audience for volunteers to do a yodeling duet to help Kirsten out. Kirsten’s first instinct was to ring her best friend’s neck. She changed her mind when a man with Blake Shelton’s dimples and sexy green eyes hopped onto the stage and stood beside her. Add a little music, clapping, and toe tapping to this scene, and it won’t be long and Kirsten will be yodeling and dancing a do-si-do for the rest of her life.
Mystery. Karleah wasn’t really breaking and entering when she stepped into her brother’s apartment. He’d said she could borrow his lightweight dumbbells to start getting in shape before she invested her own money into any equipment. Jogging she understood, but it wasn’t doing much for the flapping wings of her upper arms.
She didn’t even switch on a light until she got to the spare bedroom that he called his mini gym. She turned on a small desk lamp, but she couldn’t find the dumbbells. She got down on her knees and peeked under the desk. There they were.
Just as she grabbed the weights, two voices carried from the front room, and neither one belonged to her brother. One sounded harsh, then the voices quieted, until one let out a chuckle that turned into a sort of yodel. A really odd but unmistakable laugh. She had the impression these guys were not her brother’s friends. Soon she heard clanging and thumping–they were fighting. Trembling, she waited until she heard nothing, then she crept to the living room. Yes, a big man lay with his head bleeding. Karleah stepped closer, picked up the bloody fireplace poker next to him, then dropped it, just as a voice from the doorway said, “Hands in the air.”
Investigating to clear herself, Karleah interviews friends and family of the deceased, as well as her brother who claims to have no idea what’s going on. She learns that the dead guy had a very gruff laugh. Good. Now all she has to do is find the one man in the world who had a yodeling sort of laugh.
Dreams of the yodeling woman in the blue dress had first interrupted Mia’s sleep when she was six years old. Her parents had told her she’d probably seen someone on TV that impressed her, and her subconscious thought about the strange singing during her sleep. By the time she was ten and often yawning through school, she knew better than to ask her parents if they knew such a woman. They would not only insist it must have been someone on TV, but they’d get irritated with her for repeatedly bringing up the subject. They weren’t even open to discussion about it, which made Mia even more curious. It wasn’t until her early twenties that she’d forgotten about the lady, because through adolescence and her new adult years, her own yearnings, teenage angst, and social life kept her brain more than busy. But just after her thirtieth birthday and on the day she began working at her fifth job for the year (hoping to find her true calling), the dreams were back, and this time more vivid. The woman spoke to her. “Don’t forget me,” she said, and when she did, Mia felt sure she’d heard the voice before, sometime long ago.
This might sound more like suspense than a literary story, but it’s what you do with it that can make it either. It can be both. Use metaphor and incorporate a sense of self discovery in your symbolism. At some point, Mia will realize that she isn’t looking for answers to a dream. She’s looking for a piece of her own past, and just like all of our pasts, until we can put can them in proper perspective, they can hold us at a standing point, stop us from moving forward. For Mia, she will never find her place in the world, not at work and not at home, until she takes the time to know who she is. She needs to satisfy the restlessness within.
Children’s stories. Since I have a bad flu while I’m writing this, I’m going to incorporate a little truth into this premise for a story. Afflicted with an unrelenting flu and sore throat for the last twelve hours, thirteen-year-old Sophia fretted on how she’d manage to show up for the preliminary choir recitals. She hadn’t missed a day of rehearsal throughout the entire exhausting month, and now she could barely open her mouth without running to the toilet. How was she to yodel? And Mrs. M was counting on her, and no one else had practiced the yodeling aprt, because it was assigned specifically to Sophia.
If she talked to Mrs. M, surely there’d be disappointment, but Mrs. M would understand and tell her to stay home. But throw in the towel two days before the big finale? No way. There had to be a solution. Sophia had already eaten soda crackers, and that wasn’t working. Chicken soup and warm 7-Up hadn’t helped, and neither did gargling with that nasty tasting salt water. What if she got up under the spotlight and hurled right in front of everyone? Or passed out–she sure felt as though she could.
Okay writers, I strongly suspect that many of you have more energy than I do right now, so I hope you can finish this up. It’s not hard to imagine what could possibly go wrong in this story, but to make it work I think the stakes would need to be a bit higher. There’d have to be some reason that showing up for this recital is so important to Sophia, more so than simply to tell herself that she did it. But then, not wanting to let down an instructor that you admire can have power, because we all have to face letting someone down at some point in our lives. Besides possible disappointment, what else can go wrong when Sophia considers her goal? Maybe she does take the chance, and she knows she’s about to throw up, so she runs offstage, just in time to puke all over her secret crush who was watching from the left wing.
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.