Playing The Muse

By | Saturday, March 19, 2011 Leave a Comment
I thought I'd take a post here to try playing the part of The Muse. Mainly because there's some ideas here that I think somebody ought to take advantage of, and I'm probably not the best person to do so. So here's some notes for you to scan over...

Oct. 31, 1876 - A cyclone off east coast of India killed 200,000.
Nov. 2, 1876 - A giant squid, 6.1 meters long, washed ashore at Thimble Tickle Bay in Newfoundland, Canada.
Nov. 7, 1876 – A grave robbery of Abraham Lincoln's tomb was attempted (and failed).
Nov. 10, 1876 - The Philadelphia World's Fair closed.
Nov. 29, 1876 - Porfirio Diaz became President of Mexico.
Dec. 5, 1876 – The Brooklyn Theater Fire killed at least 278, possibly more than 300.
Dec. 29, 1876 - The Ashtabula River Railroad bridge disaster, then called the worst disaster in American history, took place killing 92 people.
Jan. 1, 1877 - Queen Victoria was proclaimed the Empress of India.
Feb. 18, 1877 - The Lincoln County War began.
Feb. 20, 1877 - Pope Leo XIII becamethe 254th pope.
Mar. 18, 1877 - A riot in Bern, Switzerland broke out led in part by anarchist Paul Brousse.
Apr. 24, 1877 - The Russo-Turkish War began.
May 6, 1877 - Crazy Horse surrendered to U.S. troops in Nebraska.
May 21, 1877 – Romania declared itself independent from the Ottoman Empire.
Jun. 26, 1877 - Mt. Cotopaxi erupted in Ecuador killing 1,000.

You could probably pick any random nine month period and come up with an equally compelling list of events. They might or might not be related. But what if some, or all of them were? What if there were a connection between a giant squid washing up on a beach, and the desecration of Lincoln's tomb a week later? What if something in the early days of the Lincoln County War led to Pope Leo XIII being chosen as the pope over another candidate?

Life is full of random incidents, and it's a well-trod axiom that correlation does NOT mean causation. But that's a lot of what creativity is about: making a connection between two (or more) seemingly unrelated items. So, if you're ever hurting for story ideas or launching points, why not just scan through a list of events that are related only by temporal proximity (that is, they all happen around the same time) and see if you can't make some connections of your own. We're provided with hundreds of thousands of springboards all the time, and it's up to you how to frame them into your story.
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