I have a lot of ideas for stories. Like, if I wrote a novel’s worth of them every month, I’d still most likely die before getting through them all. I will admit that some of the ideas probably suck, but I think there are some that a good writer could make something of them. I’ll just never get a chance to. So, I give them to the world. If you can make something of these, go right ahead. And if these are the ideas I’m giving away, maybe check out the ones I keep.
This is the beginning of an idea. I have it worked out to a point, but I have no idea where it goes from there, or what the point of it will be. Also, I’m American so I know our history and landscape, so there are some factors you’d need to figure out if you set this in another country.
It is explained in later chapters, but around 1820 there’s a farm somewhere in Pennsylvania, or Ohio, or maybe New York owned by a guy I’ll call Smith. His eldest son eventually inherits the farm. His younger son buys the farm to the east. His daughter marries a guy who buys the farm to the north. Throughout the 1800s, all the farms in the immediate area are bought by branches of the Smith family. They even build additional houses so that four or five families can live on what was one farm. They’re not inbred, they do go out and find someone, but they always move back to be near the original farm. Some may live in towns ten or so miles away, but they are always welcome back to the Smith Farms, or commune, or whatever they call it.
The story itself starts with a prologue set around the 1980’s, the exact year depends on when you set the main story. On the original farm, Smith built a barn around 1820. The original barn burned down, and has been replaced a few times. But it is mainly used just to store equipment. While all the kids from the extended family are allowed to play wherever, the adults always tell them not to play in the old barn. We are introduced to someone I’ll call John. John grew up on one of the original farms and it is his sixteenth birthday. His plans are to join the Navy and see the world, and only return for holidays. His dad tells him about a family tradition whenever people turn sixteen, and takes him to the old barn, where he shows John a secret door that leads into a cellar. In the cellar is an old chest, which his dad opens.
The main story is probably set in the present and follows Sue, John’s granddaughter. John joined the Navy, saw the world, got married, and came back to the Farms. He and his wife had a son, who eventually gets married and has Sue. But the son and his wife die in a car accident, maybe a few months after Sue is born. And John’s wife dies of cancer or something.
So on Sue’s sixteenth birthday, it is John who tells her of this family tradition out in the old barn. I imagine Sue just texting and not really caring. John takes her down into the secret cellar and opens the chest. Sue looks in, and doesn’t see what the big deal is. This confuses John. They start arguing, and Sue asks what’s so important about a silver ball. John is about to say something, but goes, “Wait, what?” He asks her what she sees in the chest and she says, “A silver ball.” John asks her to take a picture of it, but for some reason it comes out blurry. John closes the chests and hurries back to the main house.
Many of her aunts and uncles are there to welcome her into the family secret, but John says that everyone needs to be there, now. He won’t explain anything to anyone, saying everyone needs to hear it. So the word goes out, and in half an hour there’s fifty family members. More are on their way, but people can’t wait any longer.
John has Sue describe what she saw in the chest. When she says she only saw a silver ball, everyone is shocked. This really annoys Sue, who demands an explanation. So John starts the story. One night, back in 1820, or whatever, Farmer Smith hears a crack of thunder, but there isn’t a cloud in the sky. The next morning he and his sons find a crater in a field. At the bottom, is a small, sleeping dragon. While he could have made some money showing off a dragon, there is a mild compulsion to protect it. So he and his sons built a chest, and then they dug the dirt out under the dragon and slid the chest under it, since they can’t bring themselves to touch it. They then built a barn over top of it to hide it.
Sue doesn’t believe this, but all the adults tell her it is true. In the chest is a small, sleeping dragon. All attempts to photograph it end up blurry, but several family members over the decades have drawn or painted it, and they show several of these to Sue.
And that’s about as far as I worked it out. Where it goes from there, I don’t know. Here are a few bits that might make it into the story.
Over the centuries, the Family has come up with several theories. One seemingly now proved is that it isn’t really a dragon, but some probably alien device that just projects the image of a dragon. The question now is why is Sue able to see through that? Have humans in general evolved to see through the deception, or is the evolution limited to the Family, or is Sue the Chosen in some non-genetic meaning? Is the silver ball just another layer to the deception? In ten generation will someone see something else? Will Sue still have the same compulsion to protect it, or will she have a new compulsion?
Perhaps an aunt who has spent a lot of time thinking about the dragon wonders out loud if Sue’s kids will see the dragon or the ball. This upsets Sue who says something like, “Yesterday I was too young for sex, now you want me knocked up for an experiment.” I think an element to whatever story someone writes of this, is that you have all these people who have lived their adult lives with a mystery, possibly finally getting some answers through this one person who doesn’t want any part of this. There is plenty of possibility of drama there.
One little aspect I had thought of, is that this compulsion to keep the secret means that you need to be certain before bringing someone into the family. For example, I imagine that there have been a couple of times in the past where some guy took his girlfriend to the old barn and showed her the dragon, and then proposed because, well, she knows the secret now so she can’t leave. I imagine at some point they made a rule that you have to be married for a year before showing them the dragon.
And that’s all I have. My feeling is that it would be too cliché if Sue is the Chosen One, or if the “dragon” is finally waking up. On the other hand, introducing a new aspect to an old mystery, but then not answering anything seems like something that would annoy readers unless done uniquely well. Which is why I’m giving this idea away.