Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Junk Mail Ideas by Andy Scheer

Need ideas for your fiction? Check your email. Awhile ago I wrote about how visiting the zoo lets you observe an amazing diversity of people—who could help round out your novel’s cast. This morning I realized ideas for scenes come free to my in-box.

My wife (a hardcore couponer) and I reserve one account for commercial updates. While she sees it as a source for bargains, it’s also a potential treasure trove for writers wanting to think outside the box of their own experience.

Yesterday came an offer for a Beef Wellington dinner at an expensive, exclusive restaurant. With a few clicks I toured the restaurant, learned about its options for wedding receptions, scanned the menu, and visited the romantic dining room. A few clicks to its reviews on Tripadvisor.com offered insights into what people experience there—including one encounter with a bartender having a bad day. Lots of ideas—all free.

This morning three back-to-back email offers grabbed my attention.

● The first, from livingsocial.com, advertised “couples’ massage + foot soak + champagne.” Down the page I found opportunities for a day of paintball for two, tattoo removal, and “Nia fitness” classes.

Not my usual activities, so I’d need help just to think of them, let alone describe them with realism.

● Second was a deal for yoga classes and ionic foot baths. Ionic? I thought that was a kind of Greek column.

Scanning down the screen I learned about a barbecue cooking class for two, followed by an introductory pistol course (also available for a girls’ night out) followed by whiskey and cigars at a steak house. (The girls’ night out option substitutes red or white wine and light appetizers for the whiskey and cigars.)

● Third came a deal for a 90-minute light plane flight experience that includes on-the-ground instruction in a flight simulator, followed by a “45-minute flight with you at the controls.”

Not suitable for your novel? Other choices included an eight-hour fly fishing trip for two, a golf lesson with swing evaluation, and ten one-hour Irish dance classes.

Whether you need ideas or a source for details, the answers are just a few clicks away.


Heather Day Gilbert said...

The tattoo removal option, along with a round of paintball, totally cracks me up for a unique date idea...

I do think the simulated flying experience might be cool. (This from someone who once wanted to be an astronaut.)

"Novel" inspiration today, Andy!

Diana said...

I really enjoyed this- great writing prompts as well for writing groups!
Set the timer and go ballroom dancing.

Robin Bayne said...


Robin Bayne said...

actually make that "Interesting!"

M. Saint-Germain said...

Hi Andy -
What a creative idea. I especially liked the pistol-shooting class for ladies. Here's why: It's WAY out of my comfort zone, something I've never done, but something my husband wishes I would do with him. When we're writing fiction it's important to put ourselves out there to try new things so we can write like we've been there. But it takes courage.
I like the idea of living though these experiences online. It's much safer. Ha!

Davalyn Spencer said...

Great post. I knew I could use that old email account for something.

Caroline said...

Fun post; loved the ideas!

Audrey said...

What a fun post Andy...thanks for sharing these offers/ideas with us!

Carole Lehr Johnson said...

What a great idea! Talk about 'recycling.'