Story in a Hat

Keep working on Red Flower or start a new WIP for Camp NaNoWriMo like I promised? This question was killing me, until I found a new story in a hat.

I mentioned previously that I had purchased a writing book by Chris Baty, Lindsey Grant, and Tavia Stewart-Streit, called Ready, Set, Novel! Thanks to its wonderful brainstorming section, I decided to fulfill my vow and write a completely new story for Camp NaNoWriMo.

One of the exercises was to write a list of words you liked, things that excited you, and things you liked to read about in stories. Next, you picked your nine favorites. You wrote each of these words/phrases on a separate scrap of paper, placed them in a hat, and drew out three. You repeated this procedure twice more. When you were done, you had three groups of three words/phrases which you were to “What if” into a possible story idea. I’ll use my results as an example.


Novel 1–family secrets, unusual magical creatures, special powers

Novel 2–strange eyes, secret societies, magic jewelry

Novel 3–harps, hidden clues, alternate worlds


Of course, I couldn’t possibly confine myself to just one of these novel ideas. I had to combine them all! Like so.


What if a certain song played on a certain harp opened a tiny pocket of an alternate world in which rested clues that, when put together, opened an even bigger portal protecting a magic object?

What if the magic object was a piece of magic jewelry that was being sought by a secret society identifiable only by their strange eyes?

What if a teenager found out that her family were the secret guardians of the harps, but the secret society had found out, too? What if she and her family were actually refugees from the alternate world the harps opens? What if they are actually unusual magical creatures with special magic powers?

What if the secret society members are humans who have bound their souls to musical instruments, which gives them the ability to sense when a harp is near? Or maybe when a guardian is near?

What if the magic jewelry is just one of many magical objects hidden by refugees on Earth?


My story-sensors are tingling! What do you think? Have you ever tried this exercise?




6 thoughts on “Story in a Hat”

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