Is There a Story in Your Fortune Cookie?

This summer we’ve been looking at where story ideas come from. A recent dinner out illustrates that ideas are everywhere!

Think about the essence of a Fortune Cookie.

The very word “fortune” evokes the concept of a happy adventure waiting to happen, a happy ending just beyond view. Isn’t that what readers look for in a story?

Brainstorm a little about the possible story plots contained in my cookie fortunes:

  • Good news will be brought to you by mail.

Wasn’t there a movie about that? You’ve Got Mail! But what if the mail–and the good news–got lost, only to be discovered later? Acceptance of a proposal? Confirmation of a business deal? The announcement of an inheritance?

  • Treasure what you have.

Most stories feature some possession longed for. What would your character do to attain or to keep what they have? How do their actions reveal what they truly treasure?

  • Be careful! Bees with honey in their mouths have stings in their tails.

Ah! Intrigue and betrayal. The duplicitous lover, politician, or emissary. This admonition could find its way into any genre from romance to political thriller to science fiction.

  • Learning is a treasure which accompanies us everywhere.

What if your character’s ONLY resource was his or her knowledge? What if they had always been the brunt of nerd jokes, but that quirky fascination with trivia was exactly what saved the day, the plan, or the world? Anyone remember MacGuyver?

  • The best times of your life have not yet been lived.

My mind immediately made a quantum leap to time travel. What if you could get a sneak peek at your future? What if you could fast-forward through all the hard parts of life? What would you be willing to endure if you knew the outcome would be great strength and blessing?

  • Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.

This might be the story of someone who thought a high paying job would give them freedom, but gives it up to pursue something they really enjoy. Or it could be a compare-and-contrast story–maybe twins, one of whom chooses to do as they wish while the other does what they love. What could you do with that?

…and these character ideas:

  • No need to worry! You will always have everything that you need.
  • You are kind and broad-minded.
  • Enjoy life! It is better to be happy than wise.
  • The courage to be great lies deep within each of us.
  • Your cheerful outlook is one of your assets.
  • Those who seek will find.

What characters do these traits suggest? Someone you, as a reader, could relate to? Someone who might become annoying after a while?

If any of these inspired a story idea for you, please leave a comment and share!

Never overlook the ideas that are all around you! A lifetime of [writing] happiness lies ahead of you!


About Lynn Dean

Lynn Dean dictated her first story before she could write and continued to write stories, illustrate them, and bind them into books throughout childhood. As a homeschooling mom, she enjoyed passing a love for writing to her own children and ten years of co-op students.

Read more about Lynn.

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