Inspiration: Story Idea

I recently had a discussion about story ideas with another author. It spurred me to share the inspiration for my work in progress, The Venerable Dawn: Ascension.

In August 2019, I took a writing class after being eliminated from a Corporate America job for the third time in my career. The first homework assignment asked us to browse through Discover Magazine and find an article that captured our imaginations. The piece I found was “They Cracked This 250-Year-Old Code and Found a Secret Society Inside.” Two parts grabbed my curiosity.

First, this article told how a linguistic specialist used algorithms to crack the Copiale Cipher. But it wasn’t the use of computer technology that interested me. Instead, it was who created the code, the Oculists, a group of ophthalmologists loosely tied to the Freemasons. Throughout history, freethinkers like these doctors formed secret societies to escape the suppression and persecution of the Church, who deemed such groups as heretical.

I’ve always been fascinated by such well-known groups as the Freemasons, Illuminati, and Rosicrucians. Many people are familiar with the Freemasons from the National Treasure movies and the Illuminati from Angels & Demons. Another clandestine group, Priory of Sion, is featured in The De Vinci Code. Nowadays, there are many collegiate not-so-secret societies. The Ivy League groups such as Yale’s Skull and Bones and the Quill and Dagger at Cornell are some of the most notable. Look them up; they are interesting and fun to see who former members are.

The cracking-the-code part of the article caught my attention because of my interest in armchair treasure hunting. It began in a roundabout way, starting when I discovered that Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass included moves for a chess game in the narrative.

Like most everything with me, this fascination dovetailed into the discovery of two incredible books, Masquerade and The Secret.

Masquerade is a picture book by Kit Williams, published in 1979. It includes clues to the location of a golden hare hidden somewhere in Britain. The answer to the elaborate puzzle is hidden in fifteen illustrations. The whereabouts of the gilded woodland creature remained unknown until 2009.

The Secret is a treasure hunt created by Byron Preiss. The clues were included in the book published in 1982. The quest involves searching for twelve boxes buried at secret locations across the US and Canada. The author would reward the finder with a precious gem in exchange for the chests. Only three of them have been found as of October 2019. Some speculate that the remaining boxes may never be found.

In many ways, geocaching and Pokémon Go are today’s treasure hunts. Fun stuff for kids and adults alike. I mean, what’s not to love about going on a quest to find a cache and reviewing the log for those who came before them? Or capturing virtual creatures in real-world locations?

I’m so pumped simply writing this post. It tells me that I followed the right path of inspiration for my story. Now tell me about your inspiration. Or let me know what you think about secret or not-so-secret societies and treasure hunting.

Door to My Imagination

Most photos give me story ideas when I contemplate what they say to me. I like to use the stream of consciousness style as I consider the subject. With this approach, a common theme usually emerges. And sometimes, my rambling thoughts morph into a piece of flash fiction or short story afterwards.

Here’s this week’s introspected look at the elements of this door in my imagination.

Photo credit: unknown

Rotted wood in corner damaged left open too long not opened soon enough; two angles met but never cross never intersect; don’t run parallel one horizonal one vertical up down sideways back and forth going one way or the other; linear straight angles no curves twist of fate.

Ivy crawling on the door invasive intruding insistent on getting in won’t take no for an answer breaking down the barrier or setting boundaries sealing in thoughts emotions feelings; no doorknob on outside of the door can’t get in no shelter; locks both inside and outside feelings locking emotions inside keeping them out open your mind close your mind.

Ivy on the tree strangling wringing life out of it invading its trunk its core thick solid its heart and soul protected against adversity rejection abandonment; slithering its way to the branches the bearers of seeds creators of new life more than one way to accomplish a goal take another tack driven to succeed blind ambition.

Moss on the floor organic natural nature smothering the inanimate manufactured lifeless concrete stone gravel break down into soil add water sunlight life reborn the cycle; cracks on the wall cracks in armor crumbling walls more barriers breaking down nothing can keep thoughts beliefs feelings out hidden away exposing secrets insecurities letting go of doubts liberating freedom confidence strength fortitude opening a world of possibilities the world’s your oyster find your pearl.

Groundcover undergrowth over the threshold of the doorway more ivy door can no longer be closed once opened can’t be close can’t put the lid back on can of worms don’t like worms they ruin the smell of rain slimy hands when baiting a hook but good for the dirt creators of rich black fertile soil; uh-oh off track off the rails thoughts too deep too heavy pause take a breath bring it back online in line; was the door left open to let in fresh air welcome new perspectives why did the ivy invade, did it take advantage of the opportunity laid in wait for the opportunity to creep in to block the exit or seek out the negative smother it allowing the positive to come in.

Glass in door looking out transparency seeing with clarity a clear vision the possibilities of letting go not holding back wiping the fog from the window to see out; no it’s opaque clouded not veiled by curtain but obscured hiding secrets self-doubt covering up inhibitions vulnerabilities not letting anyone see the fragilities ashamed.

Light bright sunlight in meadow beyond the tree openness unobscured let in the light see the light facing fears releasing those fears open the mind to new possibilities; more dense woods beyond, doors open and close, when one door closes don’t look back look forward look for new doors to open new opportunities fresh perspectives.


Stream of thought writing is so much fun for me. It got a little heavy at times in this piece, but the contrast of ideas was compelling. Now I’ll let it simmer on the back burner while I think about what elements like characters, setting, and of course, magic are needed to create an appetizing story.