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Go Fishing for Stories – The Personal Ad

Any storyteller worth their salt will have hundreds of story ideas in their back pocket. Will they use all of them? Likely not. But you never know when you may hit on one idea that you’re really motivated to write; or you have a couple halfway-decent ideas that when combined, would make a great story.

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So where to find stories? David Lynch describes the hunt for story ideas in his book, “Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity.”

The beautiful thing is that when you catch one fish that you love, even if it’s a little fish—a fragment of an idea—that fish will draw in other fish, and they’ll hook onto it. Then you’re on your way. Soon there are more and more and more fragments, and the whole thing emerges. But it starts with desire.

 

So let’s do as David does and lynch some fish. What’s the mark of a good fishing hole? Where the unexpected happens. We must bring the proper tools: patience and open eyes.

As the saying goes, “There are plenty of fish in the sea!” This goes for mates, as well as ideas too. So let’s check out the personal ads and see what the fish are biting these days…

PERSONAL AD #1: She knows what she wants…

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She’s been burned. She doesn’t give a flying crap about lemonade. She wants to start off on the right foot this time, and it behooves you to act accordingly. There’s something here in this personal ad. How do you find the perfect match when all the significant others in your past have been significantly sub-par? A character that sees love not as a primal and lustful response to another, but a process of finding the best candidate… as if she’s a CEO looking for a dependable addition to her company. Flowers? This lady doesn’t want flowers, she wants to install a parental spying app across all your devices. If you’ve always wondered what it’d be like to date Big Brother, here’s your chance. This idea is a small fish, it needs more. But certainly there’s an intriguing character worth exploring here.


PERSONAL AD #2: Boner for the Donor

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Ah, the missed connection. Why didn’t you say anything when you saw your soul mate pick up their 4×4 burger at an In ‘n Out near Anaheim’s Disneyland last fall? Your one chance at love… evaporated. How about a story about someone’s missed encounter. They revisit the scene of the crime – for this poor fellow, the blood bank. Maybe he goes back, day after day and continues donating blood in hopes of rediscovering his missed connection? In the process, he becomes grossly anemic and becomes very ill – only to find her once again when he’s on the verge of death. Okay, not a great idea… But there’s something here. Clear goal. It’s primal. And everyone likes a treasure hunt.

PERSONAL AD THREE: Confess your Love!

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Priests fall in love too, don’t they? This professional conflict of interest has become quite cliche between therapists and their patients, but a priest and the sinner? There’s something here… Perhaps the priest is so taken by how screwed up the confessor was, that he wants to turn her into a devote Catholic. He wants to be the one to turn this bad girl into good. Or, perhaps we flip it – the sinner has a crush on the priest, and makes some advances. Or this – perhaps a rake falls in love with a nun. He’s had a fling with everyone else in town – but that nun! Boy, if he could get into her holy culottes (or whatever nuns wear for underwear)… That would be something; that would be a challenge! And this rake loves a good sexual challenge… Is he able to seduce the nun? Would you see that movie?

Personal ads aren’t just for those on the hunt for love – they’re great fodder for storytellers. Even if you’re married or dating someone serious, perhaps it’s worth creating a Match.com account or perusing the personal ads… NOW if your significant other catches you scouting for the “other fish in the sea” – you’ll have to do your best to explain it’s not a mate you’re after, but a story idea. Or a mate for your little fish of a story idea. Will he/she believe you? Perhaps that’s another story idea in the works!


Written by: Mich Medvedoff

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