Thumbnail Sketches:

Over the years, I have collected what I call "thumbnail sketches", or TNS.  Maybe other writers have things like this as well, I don't know.  Basically a TNS is a story idea that I think might be interesting to develop, but might never.  At one point I had accumulated so many of them, that I attacked my long list turning each into a story of one page in length, or equaling about 1000 words (i.e. the length of the average newspaper or short magazine article).  My collection of stories was bound and named 123.45 Stories - although there were actually 136 stories in the collection, and a whole bunch of other things.

At the moment I am using the list to write poems that I hope to turn into Caveat Emptor Press releases CEP 00000000010 and CEP 0000000000011, Burn This Book and Poetallica respectively.  This is a writing exercise on my part, mostly helping me attack poetry with some concept of outline and framing device.

By putting this list here I am giving an open invitation to writers out there to try the same thing themselves, either using their ideas or my own.

Writers, please think about these ideas:

Road story that covers the places we went on our last long trip.

English teacher becomes monk in Japan, dreams he contacts Ludwig Wittgenstein and the Brothers Karamazov

The Genius becomes the Idiot

The Land before Insane asylums

Researching a murder novel by trying it out in real life.

An encyclopedia that answers questions like “is there life after death?”, etc.

Hera Clit Us from Efes, “we cannot step twice in the same river.”

Cyclical thinking (or circular logic) is pagan?  Old Indo-European thinking.  Linear thinking is holy?

Pedophiles like feet?  Or is that an orthopedophile?

Website of “stories for hire.”

The anguish of wishing dead somebody who actually dies.

The quest for pure “fun.”  “Know where we can get some fun?”

The woman of disease.

It is in man’s nature to be hypocritical?  Maybe the question is: how much hypocrisy will you allow in yourself?

In my world of one, I am a just and benevolent ruler.

Else and Vince’s story going amuck.

Former lovers of U.S. presidential hopefuls seal statements to be opened in the event of their deaths, testifying to their affairs out of fear of…

Would painting Christ’s cross as a swastika be blasphemous?  Is phrasing blasphemies as a hypothetical question “OK”?

Can a shadow rustle leaves or break a laser?  Can a shadow break a law?

How much of a person’s body do you need to cover with tiger balm to drive him/her insane?

In the museum the statues come alive.  Don’t feel their breasts, don’t turn your backs on them…

A frantic novel that has a frantic blend of exciting incidents and literary genres.

She loves her husband, she won't sleep with him.  He is forced reluctantly to sleep with hookers.  When she finds out, she runs away and becomes a prostitute, convinced that it is the only way she'll be able to join him in Hell.

The walls (really) have ears.  They drive into the deep woods when they want to have an argument.  Primal screaming.

Giant penis drawn on the road.

I hate all misogynists, but esp. female misogynists.

He is firmly convinced that he is a lesbian born in a man’s body.

A guy who becomes more and more open, telling his wife his sex fantasies, publishes rash confessions, etc.

"Welcome to the 20th century, jerk!"

Girl masturbating in truck on mountain road.

Handsome door-to-door salesmen must get a lot of action.

Indiscreet-looking men must make the best criminals – forgettable faces.  “He looked so ordinary, I completely forgot what he looked like, officer.”  But that’s how they convict him, nobody would pick him out of a line-up.

The characters that are so out of place: caveman in the wild west.

Air-conditioned cell with mother and daughter staring out.

“Cape Fear” type thriller where villain goes around destroying rich people’s property.

Someone talking on 2 cell phones at the same time.  If K-tai is all that you love, then that is what you shall have.

Guy’s got incurable lust, yet he wants to be a priest.

He deliberately plans a betrayal, so that he can be guilty and live a life of happy retribution, thinking it preferable to an unhappy married life and eternal happiness.  “My wife’s not here, meet my wife.”

Natural beauty pays to become ugly.

He’s got apartments all over the country where he maintains separate identities.  When one commits a murder, he cuts it off and retreats to another.

A man on a bicycle comes across a car parked in the bicycle lane.  Does he stop and wait for the car to move, or does he cross into the pedestrian lane?

If you come across a situation that seems familiar, it is because you’ve “tried it out” in a dream.  If it develops differently, that is because your “dream trial” ended in failure and you’re “on the right course.”

“I wanted to believe you, and I was going to follow your advice; but that I now know you are unable to tell the future, I am certain that it would be unwise to follow your advice and intend to do the opposite just to spite you.”

Guy who only speaks in vulgarities is the nicest guy on the block.

The stud who is hired to be part of a tableau vivant at an orgy for rich freaks, and what he sees...

Traveling around the country to scoop all of the women who have eluded you to help you sever your ties, after you have gained your confidence... “Every girl I ever loved…”

Logging our past lives for posterity.

In Cold Blood situation where Perry Smith takes Dick Hickock to the Clutter farm, shoots him with the shotgun, then gives the gun to Herb Clutter and runs away.

In Cold Blood situation where Kenyon stabs Perry in the eye with the frame of his glasses.

Oh yeah - if you think you're so smart, when was the last time YOU  tried to split an atom?

The deceased was picking his nose with an ice pick when a nearby explosion...

Be sure to prepare your post-apocalypse checkbook well in advance.

An alien came to my village.  I went to an alien village

"I had a dream last night that I punched you in the face."  "You did punch me in the face.  See?"

What's a child?  What's a dog?

Leonard, what are you doing in Havana?  Don't you know theres a revolution going on? Come back home, your mother's going crazy, nobody can talk to her, come back won't you? Cataract from tears?  Removed again and again?

When will they see through my thin disguise? Did Christ know of Geology?

Poets for President

the body/mind: a clever disguise

As I sit down at the toilet, I watch someone pedal by.

Learning to hate Nazis (and all Germans) in 1996 Travel in dreams

the fetus would rather have killed itself and it's mother than be born into this world and be raised by her!

Male motherhood: hot for the 2020's

A season in a mouse costume.

Men who must sleep with their daughters.  Women who sleep with father and son.

Husband of invalid becomes a monk?

Why did you have to go messing around?  You could have been immortal!  Was it worth it?

Man goes to adult high schol classes, meets guy (20ish) who's put off his graduation so long the school kicks him out.  He cons the elder into taking him out for drinks after class twice, then when the elder gets stingy, the younger claims that he is his son, bribes him, threatens him...

Language surfing

Ravi and I held up a bank

John married a girl who "all I want is to have enough money to buy a car."

The nation of gamblers

I imagine a man...

Russian (for example), when heard by someone with a knowledge of Latvian (for example), takes on a whole new meaning.  Language interchangeability...

Good student w. bad teacher who gets worse and worse as the teacher gets better and better.

The hand, fallen across the breathing sleeper.  The rhythm lulls the hand into forgetting to breathe, accepting the sleeper's breathing as a substitute.

Holmes and Watson.  Holmes proves that someone committed the murder, Watson later proves that it was Holmes, who had convinced everyone that a crime he was in fact guilty of could be attributed to someone else.  Watson admits also his anger at Holmes, his envy, jealousy, contempt for being the butt and sent on so many wild goose chases.  The narrative ends with the last words of the dying Watson, shot in the back by a gaunt, shady figure smoking a pipe.

The world with people who don't exist.

The renaming of Albert Johnson (see Rudy Wiebe).

The man who teaches himself to read classical Chinese based on his own personal interpretations of what Chinese ideograms mean.  When he is shown the same article translated into Japanese by a Japanese scholar of classical Chinese the story takes on yet another meaning.  Then, his debate with Chinese and Japanese scholars over the conflicting interpretations of the story.

The book of thumbnail sketches of plots that make no sense to anybody and make less sense then to the authors.

The world's most elaborate suicide - a young man, desiring suicide and also revenge on his enemy, goes out, becomes rich, then befriends his enemy, tells him that he is without aa penny and will fly home the next day, but in case something happens he will be the principal recipient in his will, then lets the natural happen - or not happen.  Maybe he'll get hit by a bus or something.

I once knew a man who was an overeducated underemployed Japanese film censor who began to blot out everyone else's genitalia, then all of their bodies.  Women with whom he's slept didn't remember his name.

The person who will never be wrong is the person with the least memory.

A man who turns himself into the cockroach from "the Metamorphosis"

The words hidden in the letters to the author that say "I hate you."

The god who imagines worlds that he doesn't understand, then lets them destroy themselves.

The writer of the Encyclopedia of Alienation who can't make his book appeal ot both sexes

The hermaphrodite that is male or female depending on how you look at him/her

The man who can only think when he's walking.

 The man who can never remember his own ideas.

A world with only one sex - the Mazons named after the maze at the center of their world.  Their philosophy is entirely based on metaphor.

A man who can't move about, the more he tries to run, the slower he goes.

A man whose life and body is slowly being replaced bit by bit with that of another.

An empty post-hydrogen bomb immigration country.

One person wants you to come back, everyone else wants you dead.

Go to Russia and the Russians are British.  Go to Britain and the British are German, etc.

I've never lied to you.
But even that is a lie.
How can you say that...?

The Unutterable
A linguistic study of new Chinese words, a computer program to find their pronunciation.

Story that is somehow hacked to pieces by a computer virus acting on its own volition.

The writer trying to rewrite the story that he has forgotten.

The man who is attacked unceasingly by the natural world.

The man who notices the language spoken around him change subtly until he can't understand what anyone is saying - or the man who suddenly begins to speak a totally foreign language...

A pandora's box for all of the earth's computer viruses.

The writer who role-plays all of his dangerous fantasies in his novels, then acts them out finally in a dangerous climax.

 The critical essay about the stories that were never written the Poppy Field and The Polonius Incident, that refer to the writers of the alienated Lost Generation (again).

The woman you live with is changing into another person, but one that you like better.

A machine (utility) that extracts a thought from your head when you can't quite think of it of remember it (part of reference tools and research)

The one look that lasts a lifetime

The guy who reads the book that explains his life.  The other guy who's reading the book that describes what he's just done that day.  Both by the same author.

Before she went out with me, my girl slept with a guy.  He had gone out with another girl that I had slept with while they were going out.  My girl wrote about the story in the newspaper.  She felt guilty that she had slept with two guys who knew each other, and during such a short period of time.  He wrote a story about it and published it in Chinese.  I learned about it through the girls who were both Chinese.  I read it in Chinese, and something in it made sense to me.  Years go by, emotions solidify, become something solid, unbendable.  And what does the past mean anymore?

He's my fake son.  They're my fake parents.  He's my fake brother

I have dreams every night

I farm a field

A man goes to a brothel and makes love to every girl.  Each one represents one nation on Earth.

Ass station, ass ass inate, ass ass I nation, an anas, Levis Elvis Lives

Reason will not end insolution/ I will end up in confusion

Tales of History and Imagination.

That exists which can be imagined or truth is as strange as fiction or fiction equals truth.

Es gibt kluge Leute, aber nur bloede Gruppen.

Glitter from the gutter

Pointless retaliatory action has always been a mystery to me

Your skill at making arbitrary associations is particularly well developed (astute).

He comes back from vacation as a different (murdered?) person

I was parked at a traffic light.  Some drunk guy got into the car, told me to go to such and such an address.  He must have thought I was a cabbie...

Is eating mermaid sushi cannibalism?

I was reincarnated before I even died.  Auto reincarnation?

All the Johns I know.  How about basing names on appearances?  All the Johns in the world would look alike.

Young couple kill themselves at the same time as each other, out of spite, not knowing the other is doing the same.  Frantic mother conceives her own grandson with the lover's sperm and egg donations...

Throwing a bottle in the face of an on-rushing tour bus.  The repeating crime.

Photographs that lie.

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