Tuesday, August 3, 2010


She was working the McDonald’s counter alone and she looked harried. There was a bit of a crowd rush at a time when lines are usually nonexistent.

The lady in front of me gave her order. “A large fry, please.”

“Would you like fries with that?” the employee asked.

“Excuse me?” the lady asked.

“Would you like fries with your order?” the employee asked again.

“I ordered fries,” the lady said, somewhat perturbed.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” the employee said. “Yes, you did. I’m sorry. Would you like fries with, I’m sorry. I mean, would you like something to drink?”

“No. Just the fries.”

They finished their exchange.

I ordered and received my medium decaf without a problem. But as I walked back to my car, I wondered, “Why do seagulls come so far inland?”

So what does that have to do with the fries order gone awry?

Not much, at least on the surface. But go a little deeper and we may discover how our minds work and where to find ideas for story generation.

It’s been my experience that finding a connection between two disparate things and constructing a plausible story line is a great way to keep the creativity sparks firing.

For example: What if the seagull was the companion of Michelle, the Fry Girl? And the lady was a malevolent creature from the old country on the hunt for the Great Grey Gull. As I walked out of the McDonald’s and headed toward my car, I heard the deadly whistle of a nickel-tipped arrow whiz by my ear. The gull made no noise as the arrow pierced its neck. It merely plummeted silently to the grass. Suddenly, a scream shattered the afternoon air as Michelle ran from behind the counter. “My gull,” she screamed. “You’ve killed my gull.”

And so the potential story goes.

It only takes a few minutes to make these kinds of connections. They don’t have to actually yield a real story. The purpose is to keep your creativity level high. To keep writer’s block at bay.

And you never know when that connection might actually yield a story really worth writing and reading.

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