Inspiration or Procrastination, Either Way Here’s a Free Story Prompt Generator

lolgalleycat-katemckeanI’m not sure if this is a story about finding cool inspiration, or about taking procrastination to a whole new level. You be the judge.

A few weeks ago, I got all excited when I read Chuck Wendig’s “A Game of Aspects” story challenge. It was part of a bigger discussion about “blowing up genre” (which really, I think, means just going with the deeper level of fragmentation that genre is undergoing thanks to the digital publishing revolution). At any rate, Chuck offered three lists of ten story aspects: subgenre, element to include, and conflict/theme/motif. Writers were to select, or randomly draw, one from each list and write a flash fiction piece based on those requirements.

I just thought it was kind of genius. I also thought “How can a lazy person make coming up with a story prompt even easier than this?” Because Chuck was suggesting you go to a random number generator, get three different randomly-generated numbers between one and ten, and then (gasp!) look up the item on each list that corresponded to the numbers.

Naturally I thought, “This looks like a job for my meager javascript skillz!” So instead of actually, you know, writing the story, I coded up an automatic random generator in HTML and javascript. (To be fair, I did sit down twice and attempt writing the story, but after three starts I never got a draft I even remotely liked).

He did a follow up post that added a few new items to the mix, and swapped out setting for conflict/theme/motif. And personally, I don’t have any plans to write “BDSM Erotica” or some of the genres he listed, and noticed he left out some really popular subgenres like Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, or Cozy Mystery.

So I took some liberties, and ended up with three lists of 14, slapped them into some javascript arrays with a soupçon of HTML markup, and lo and behold: The Story Starter. If you’re really curious what all the items in the lists are, you could just View Source. If you’re particularly ambitious, you could copy the source and make your own story starter. Or you could just click the linky-link and get a new idea for a story whenever you want.

It ain’t pretty, but it’s certainly addictive, the way the other members of Quills & Quibbles were clicking to get new prompts at our last meeting. I might someday dress up the Story Starter and make it pretty, but as it is right now, it loads beautifully even on a fairly slow mobile device.


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