One of my Christmas presents was a clever little item called the Writer Emergency Pack. It's a deck of cards with prompts to help a stuck fiction writer get unstuck. The pack includes brief instructions for a group storytelling game using the cards, but it seems mainly intended for individuals. It comprises two numbered sets of cards. The first presents a one-sentence suggestion with an illustrative sketch, while the corresponding number in the second half of the deck elaborates with further details. Although I haven't actively used this product yet, I find reading the prompts fun in itself.
The story sparks aren't random ideas such as "Throw your heroine off a cliff," which was sort of what I expected. (That would have been fun, too, though.) They're more serious and of more general application. Some examples: What if your story were changed to a different genre? Talk it out. (What would the protagonist and antagonist say if they had an honest discussion?) Stop talking. (How would the characters handle not being able to communicate verbally? This hint reminds me of the BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER episode when the whole town was magically silenced.) Kill the hero. (If the hero died at this point, what would happen next? Who would carry on?) Imposter. (Some character is not what he or she seems.) An apparent blessing turns out to be a curse. Take away your hero's allies and other support. Bring on the zombies (which could mean any type of mindless horde). The explanatory note cards briefly explore the ramifications of the proposed twists.
If I did apply the cards to a writing project, as a devoted outliner I would probably find it more helpful in the planning phase than the first draft.
The deck is sold on this Amazon page:Writer Emergency Pack
By the way, my first new e-book in quite a while (as opposed to re-releases) has just been published by the Wild Rose Press. "Yokai Magic" is a light paranormal romance novella featuring an enchanted Japanese scroll and a cat spirit:Yokai Magic
Margaret L. CarterCarter's Crypt