Thursday, November 15, 2007

Plot ninjas

mold.jpgA plot ninja is a person, place, thing, idea that you drop into your plot when you get stuck. Started on the NaNoWriMo forums from the suggestion that every NaNo book should include a ninja jumping out of a wardrobe, they've expanded to be anything that pops into someone's head.

These come from the Take a Prompt, Leave a Prompt folder at the forums. (Probably now buried in the archives at the NaNo site.)

Cut them up and put them in a bowl to draw out a random idea when you get stuck. If you're not doing NaNoWriMo, pull out an idea as a prompt and start writing. When you get stuck, pull out another.
  • start your writing with a description of wet feet
  • Dreams
  • crumpled clothing
  • a llama
  • pink post-it notes
  • three uneaten oranges..
  • overhearing a conversation of a tourist and a local
  • a pet curled up in a chair
  • tumbleweed
  • some moldy cheese
  • a disgruntled landlord
  • an antique quilt
  • a picture of a gorgeous man
  • an unusual locket
  • an unusually detailed, oft-repeated doodle
  • a Rubik's cube
  • Your MC gets a headache
  • frosted strawberry pop tarts
  • old ugly wallpaper on a grandparent's bedroom wall
  • a Halloween bucket full of candy wrappers, with one piece of candy still left at the bottom
  • A water proof safe, Full of water, left in the middle of the desert
  • a pair of gangly teenagers with braces, making out
  • a mannequin
  • a battered dart board
  • a homemade birdhouse hanging from a street sign
  • a one-eyed chicken
  • a slimy slug trail
  • Finding a stranger in your bathtub
  • Getting caught in the rain
  • A child with a pink ice cream
  • The couple in the apartment next to you having an argument about a mysterious person called 'Phil'
  • the sound of a prom dress being thrown away
  • A notorious thief finds a baby in a boat on the Thames
  • An unopened love letter from twenty years ago
  • A broken doll
  • A handful of sugared violets
  • An angel on a park bench
  • And a duke box
  • a soggy cardboard box that has sat out in the rain all night
  • a perfectly round rock with an X drawn across it in crayon
  • Three people from the same office thrown together under canvas for one night. It's raining. There's no booze. There's only two sleeping bags
  • one woman who sits next to you on the bus with her ipod turned so loud you can hear Christmas Carols, and it's still November
  • A motorcyclist zooming by, wearing a helmet cam and a microphone
  • two people walking down the street wearing a horse costume
  • a piece of broken, dusty yellow-orange glass
  • a camera with everything intact except the film, which is melted
  • a row of empty seats with one in the middle occupied. Then another person comes along and takes a seat right next to that person, instead of an empty one further down
  • a book in a foreign language with the covers ripped off, found in a public place
  • a necklace with the cord snapped, beads bouncing every which way on a tile floor
  • A lone operator working by herself all night in a deserted building
  • A homemade lasagna falling as the cook is knocked over by a large Rhodesian Ridgeback (breed of dog)
  • One very expensive hairless cat (cannot remember the breed) being held for ransom
  • 2 people dressed up for Halloween -- one as Santa Claus, the other as the Easter Bunny
  • A pet dog with a phobia of anything smaller than him!
  • a chewed up pen in the parking lot (you decide whether it still works or not)
  • a book in a foreign language with the covers ripped off, found in a public place
  • a cell phone that fell into a toilet
  • weapons, elements of battle
  • The sound of sobbing coming from the attic
  • someone finding out there is no water coming out of the tap on a given day (while they wanted to take a shower, for example)
  • Several strands of hair stuck together with sticky tape
  • Highlighters that have run out, but smell nice
  • A cracked, glass statue
  • a candy bar wrapper
  • a broken timepiece
  • a teddy bear with (detachable) bunny ears
  • a puddle of water on the floor
  • a penguin where it doesn't belong (say, in a house)
  • A painting of a snowboarder, with a dinosaur hidden within the background
  • a goldfish swimming in the toilet
  • A palm tree oasis in the middle of the desert
  • an old Underwood typewriter with the ribbon stuck somewhere between black and red
  • a three legged cat, (you decide how he lost his leg, or if we even know)
  • a bloody razor blade found in a public restroom
  • A smell which reminds your MC of their mother's home cooking
  • A dusty trilby lying abandoned on the pavement, and no one else around
  • A frog that squeezes under a gap in the door when it's raining
  • A wallet filled with money in an empty car park
  • a purse - shaped necklace that can open and close
  • a lighted train rushing by at twilight
  • a pizza delivery guy delivering a pre-paid pizza to the wrong address
  • a pair of mismatched flip flops
  • a set of four spoons, all bent out of shape
  • a maroon moose that sings Christmas carols. (can be a stuffed moose, if you like)
  • the landscape of Cocoa Puffs...go nuts
  • the moon as a consolation prize
  • a broken doll
  • Mindscape
  • A doll missing one of its limbs
  • The dog barks at midnight
  • A shoe impression was left in the tomato
  • A platinum ring found in the bottom of a bargain bin in a music store
  • three rusty lug-nuts
  • an old gas lamppost
  • a throbbing headache
  • a thrift store shopping spree
  • a dollar bill with writing on it
  • pumpkin pie
  • An ornate clock on a wall
  • the futility of sweeping potato chips off the side of a mountain
  • A paperclip lost in the septic tank
  • a half-finished crossword left on the train, that must be returned
  • a cold, clear mountain stream
  • a Chinese pagoda
  • a shovel stuck into a mound of dirt
  • a mislabeled lollipop--it's a flavor you don't like or weren't expecting
  • a plastic green dinosaur whose head is a staple remover
  • A pangolin
  • A moderately rainy day
  • A flamethrower
  • Miniature Robots
  • three old batteries and a change purse
  • an unexpected strip of duct tape
  • a strangely addictive song
  • a purple permanent marker
  • a barrel of monkeys
  • a field full of talking flowers
  • Three glow-in-the-dark Troll dolls
  • Whenever I think of Paris, I think of..
  • Fur-dyed poodles! (either pink or blue or green... I'll leave that up to you)
  • a forgotten sock
  • watching TV from a safe position behind the sofa
  • a Mysterious Stranger (abbreviated sometimes to AMS)
  • a strange cloud formation
  • the sound of a baby crying, or laughing
  • a facial expression completely at odds with what a character is saying
  • an extreme temperature change, you decide how or why
  • a dead body, killed with that shovel (the traveling shovel of death)
  • a case of identify theft
  • the feeling you get when you are in the house on your own, and you could almost swear that there is someone behind you, and it gives you a weird burst of speed, and you run into the next room, slamming the door
    1,000 baby turtles gone missing
  • An egg that cracks open and nothing is inside
  • A horse named Albert with OCD
  • A girl named Doug
  • A one hundred on a test that you paid the teacher to get
  • The smell of the keyboard
  • Ten chickens that have no idea that they are chickens
  • ginger beer
  • a fight/action scene at a zoo
  • the last leaf on a tree
  • Dwarf tossing
  • a rescued turtle
  • a British phone booth found anywhere except the UK
  • three gold star stickers
  • a mallard duck
  • A cape
  • a pitcher of eggnog
  • a pair of mismatched curtains
  • an experience that fills the MC with both joy and fear
  • a dozen cigarette ends floating in a wine glass
  • a man wearing fingerless gloves
  • a dead shark
  • a house with peppermint-themed interior decor
  • a villain who loves pie
  • a broken computer on a doorstep
  • a trophy tarnished with age
  • a ceiling full of mold
  • a cry for forgiveness
  • twenty ancient unopened jars of apricot jam
  • a blue stuffed elephant named Trunky
  • your MC suddenly finds him/herself in possession of a prized racehorse
  • A very wet dog on the couch
  • A cozy fire on the hearth
  • a Dixieland jazz band
  • A funeral where everybody's laughing and cheering about how the deceased will not be missed
  • A black kitten named Matt
  • a broken wine glass
  • a repair bill
  • a half empty Coca-Cola
  • an old grandfather clock set to the wrong time
  • the making of a salad
  • a very old bloodhound
  • hot peppermint tea with little mini biscotti from a boxful bought at Shoprite
  • two blue ballet shoes and a claddagh ring (which have a relation to one another, a tied significance)
  • a pair of fairy wings
  • a stove timer that always adds five minutes onto the time inputted
  • an unjust accusation
  • the scent of freshly baked bread
  • the taste of a lie
  • a red haired girl with one blue and one green eye
  • an ingrown toenail
  • squirrels in the attic
  • A flower pot getting thrown off a roof
  • a dog kennel that washes up on shore
  • a TV show involving robots
  • a river without any fish
  • a baby with colic
  • the number 7
  • a roaring fire
  • a burning bush
  • a dead rose in a vase
  • a frozen pond with the ice broken in the center
  • An impromptu dancing lesson
  • A parakeet that can only say, "Schpedoinkle!"
  • A single glove found lying on the sidewalk
  • A car catching on fire
  • a white tank top
  • ceramic dwarves
  • blue highlighted hair
  • a nightgown in a washing machine
  • a cat sitting on feet
  • the ending of a video game
  • multi-hue eyed girl!
  • an illicit affair
  • A horse named Albert
  • A purple spotted toad
  • A grandmother who thinks that she is a fish
  • needing badly to go to the bathroom in the middle of a meeting
  • a plastic carnation painted green with nail polish
  • A red wedding dress
  • Afternoon nap when it's raining outside
  • A purse filled with brown leaves
  • Tangles headphone cables
  • The salt cap falling off while salting a dish, and all the salt falling in
  • A train ride
  • Getting pizza for the mixed herb packets
  • Playing cards all night
  • another character's perspective
  • voices in the attic
  • "I can't sit still."
  • an over-enthusiastic nude photographer
  • a pair of papier mâché clawed hands
  • a midnight snowfall
  • a selection of brightly coloured boxes in an empty room/house
  • a light-up, plug-in, green gnome
  • a well-preserved dinosaur skeleton
  • a missing iguana
  • gypsy dancing bears
  • your character's reaction to running over something on the road
  • someone wearing mismatched socks
  • a niggling memory that you can ALMOST remember, but not quite
  • "Of course I'm fine. I'm more than fine. Who wouldn't be with someone like you landing on me??"
  • a messed up judicial system causing an arrest and detainment in jail
  • fine, realistic costume jewelry
  • a rickety, creaking white gate that gives someone away
  • a spy who catches a bad cold at just the wrong time
  • A hair ribbon flying with the wind
  • a nearly-empty jar of peanut butter
  • No two snowflakes are alike
  • the lifetime of a $5 bill
  • A toad under a rock
  • a fake potted plant
  • a vast array of staples
  • an umbrella left in the park on a sunny day
  • a strange light in the sky
  • a sudden burst of laughter
  • a knife with a dull, nicked blade
  • Mug shot, toe tag and broken bridge
  • blowing up an air mattress with a hair dryer
  • a car stuck in mud
  • A cat lying in the sunlight
  • Odd eyes
  • An unpainted dollhouse
  • The last book in a series
  • A dusty globe of Saturn
  • The sound of thinking
  • a consistent beeping noise
  • a nightmare about a horse
  • an earthquake
  • celebration of a feast
  • performing a ritual
  • MC must taste chocolate, cacao, or similar substance
  • a music box that won't open
  • glass figurines
  • a plastic lizard
  • purple nail polish
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