Take a common phrase and imagine someone saying it to you during a conversation. Then work through a list of uncommon responses until you find one that really ignites your imagination. Develop a story based on that response.
For example: the phrase, “Go to blazes/Hades.”
Imagine what kind of story you could write if the response was, “Nope. I can’t go there. Satan still has a restraining order on me.”
Or for the phrase, “Would you like a hand?”
The response might be, “Sure, but where would I put it?”
Here are a few phrases I found especially ripe for story-mining:
- The best of two worlds.
- Add insult to injury.
- A blessing in disguise.
- Costs an arm and a leg.
- You’re playing the Devil’s Advocate.
- Every cloud has a silver lining.
- You let the cat out of the bag.
- Steal someone’s thunder.