Tag Archives: story idea generator

Write A Random Story With Cheryl!

When we were at Capricon, Cheryl and I went to a panel called The Short Story As Art Form, with Donald J. Bingle, Clifford Royal Johns, Kelly Swails, and Joy Ward. Afterwards, Cheryl said she might be interested in trying her hand at short stories, but it would be easier if she were writing them to order. That is, if her friends assigned her stories to write within certain parameters, she’d find it easier to get started.

No problem. I love telling other people what to do. I could have gone to the internet for ideas. There are plenty o’ writing prompt generators out there, like Language is a Virus and Adam Maxwell’s. However, I created this story randomizer for her, just because it’s fun to come up with lists and categories.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Cheryl!

Here are the rules:

Pick at least 2 (and up to 5) of the following categories:

  • Genre
  • Character
  • Attribute
  • Problem
  • Setting

Once you’ve decided how many categories you want constraining you, pull out your gaming dice, if you have them. If you don’t have many-sided dice, you can use an online random number generator, like this one. Roll whichever kind of dice the category calls for, and note the result.

Genre (roll a 10-sided dice)

  1. western
  2. traditional fantasy
  3. urban fantasy
  4. magic realism
  5. science fiction
  6. steam punk
  7. mystery
  8. thriller
  9. paranormal
  10. romance

Character (roll a 20-sided dice)

  1. orphan
  2. wizard
  3. soldier
  4. peasant
  5. king or queen
  6. prince or princess
  7. charlatan
  8. rogue
  9. priest
  10. teacher
  11. lawyer
  12. accountant
  13. witch
  14. vampire
  15. giant
  16. engineer
  17. sociopath
  18. doctor
  19. artist
  20. crime boss

Attribute (roll a 20-sided dice)

  1. beautiful
  2. brave
  3. cowardly
  4. blind
  5. deaf
  6. mute
  7. wise
  8. selfish
  9. intelligent
  10. stupid
  11. greedy
  12. generous
  13. meek
  14. arrogant
  15. vain
  16. humble
  17. officious
  18. helpful
  19. curious
  20. blasé

Problem (roll a 10-sided dice)

  1. theft
  2. natural disaster (e.g., hurricane, earthquake, flood)
  3. killing
  4. unrequited love
  5. a lie
  6. betrayal
  7. illness
  8. old age
  9. separation from (a) loved one(s)
  10. the apocalypse

Setting (roll a 20-sided dice)

  1. city or village
  2. forest or jungle
  3. farm or ranch
  4. temple or church
  5. battlefield
  6. hospital
  7. office
  8. coffee shop
  9. mountain
  10. shore
  11. space station
  12. abandoned ruins
  13. haunted house
  14. locked room
  15. laboratory
  16. cemetery
  17. ship
  18. polar wilderness
  19. castle
  20. school

I’d hate for Cheryl to get bored, so I rolled for every last freaking category. My results were 9, 15, 17, 2, and 9, in that order.

So: I am suggesting she write a paranormal story about an officious giant who’s dealing with a natural disaster on a mountain.

Here’s what I’d do if I were Cheryl: I’d ask me who I thought I was kidding. However, I might roll my own results and see if I could live with the story the dice suggested. Or…I might just look at the lists and pick my favorite answer for each category, or otherwise come up with a combination I found interesting. If I ever find out what Cheryl did with this little exercise, I’ll let you know.