I am sometimes asked how does a writer find new ideas for fiction. My favorite answer follows from a key belief I hold, that all fiction is in some way autobiographical. So look around you, at people or things, or think about your own life, and ask “what if”? What if your life had taken a different turn? What if that old thing you found in the attic was actually a long lost treasure of some kind, and how did it get there?
So let’s try something. I live in a one hundred and thirty-three year old house. For the thirty-six years I have lived there I have noticed something in my back yard that has always intrigued me. In the middle of the open lawn half-acre back yard there is buried just below the grass covering, visible only in winter or drought, a small platform of cinder blocks. Perhaps the cover for an old well? Maybe where an old outhouse was filled in? A lot of interesting things were thrown in outhouses and wells when abandoned. Buried treasure? Time capsule?
It’s time to dig it up and solve the mystery. I have a few more ideas about what it might be, but I want your ideas. I want stories about what it could be and I will pay $100.00 for the best, $50.00 for second place, and $25.00 for third for the best fiction story about what lies beneath. Send me a word document of two to three double spaced pages, twelve font, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Everyone who submits an entry gets an invitation to the big dig-up. Contest ends June 17th. Dig date to be determined. (I keep all the confederate gold.)
A little more about the house and property may nourish your imagination. During the early part of the 1900s the 4900 sq. foot house was run as the Magnolia Hotel, a lodging destination half-way between NY and Florida when Highway One was the only route from north to south and came down Main Street. Later it was housing for Wake Forest College students.
I’ve heard some stories about those times, and found evidence of one in the attic. In an old paper bag that was inside an old box, I found a fancy nightgown with an accompanying note that read as follows: “My wedding gown, first night, 1928.” I found out who wore it. You can find out at the dig.