This is the eighth year in a row I've run this series in April. Why a story idea each day for the month? Several reasons which I'll work my through during this series of posts. Here' s another one:
Being able to generate original story ideas sets you apart from writers who can't.
Some writers can do it. Others can't. The latter is resigned to doing adaptations, rewrites or taking a preexisting idea and writing that.
If you can develop solid skills at generating good story ideas, you give yourself a leg-up on your competition creating another opportunity to land writing gigs.
Today's story idea: The Gig Economy.
Fiverr, an online freelance marketplace that promotes itself as being for "the lean entrepreneur" — as its name suggests, services advertised on Fiverr can be purchased for as low as five dollars — recently attracted ire for an ad campaign called "In Doers We Trust." One ad, prominently displayed on some New York City subway cars, features a woman staring at the camera with a look of blank determination. "You eat a coffee for lunch," the ad proclaims. "You follow through on your follow through. Sleep deprivation is your drug of choice. You might be a doer."
Fiverr, which had raised a hundred and ten million dollars in venture capital by November, 2015, has more about the "In Doers We Trust" campaign on its Web site. In one video, a peppy female voice-over urges "doers" to "always be available," to think about beating "the trust-fund kids," and to pitch themselves to everyone they see, including their dentist.
A Fiverr press release about "In Doers We Trust" states, "The campaign positions Fiverr to seize today's emerging zeitgeist of entrepreneurial flexibility, rapid experimentation, and doing more with less. It pushes against bureaucratic overthinking, analysis-paralysis, and excessive whiteboarding." This is the jargon through which the essentially cannibalistic nature of the gig economy is dressed up as an aesthetic. No one wants to eat coffee for lunch or go on a bender of sleep deprivation — or answer a call from a client while having sex, as recommended in the video. It's a stretch to feel cheerful at all about the Fiverr marketplace, perusing the thousands of listings of people who will record any song, make any happy-birthday video, or design any book cover for five dollars.
This is what we've been reduced to: Scrambling around from gig to gig to survive. And in today's culture, the more we embrace the scramble, the more praiseworthy we are. The essence of The Gig Economy.
I'm sure this idea has been pitched dozens of times as a TV series: Adjoining apartments with 5–6 distinct millennial types, each of whom has got 2–3 gigs which they frantically juggle. In between those hectic storylines, there is commentary on contemporary life, repressed and expressed sexuality, and lots of one-liners to keep things lively. Probably a single camera half-hour sit-com. Maybe three camera.
Series title: "Gigs".
Is there a movie version? Reality Bites with fledgling entrepreneurs. St. Elmo's Fire with Lyft drivers. The Breakfast Club with creatives.
Whatever the setup, I see this: One of the main characters, probably the one who is the MOST evangelical about the potential of The Gig Economy…
Ends up committing suicide.
This causes the victim's friends to reconsider their values, their world views, their commitment to the insanity of selling one's soul at five dollars per pop.
Here's the thing: At some point, young people are going to say "Fuck this!" Some filmmakers will come along with this generation's Easy Rider and The Graduate, stories in which characters reject the status quo. And that story will resonate with its target audience.
Because honestly, the status quo as portrayed here — where you conduct business from a public bathroom, interrupt having sex to take a business call, take a Lyft rider while having contractions…
This is no way to live.
Someone is going to create a TV series, movie, or both which lands a percussive right upper cut to the glass chin of this approach to 'living'. These storytellers may not have an answer to change the status quo. But they can certainly give voice to a generation saying 'No' to this bull shit.
There you go: My third story idea for the month. And it's yours. Free!
Each day this month, I invite you to click on RESPONSES and join me to do some further brainstorming. Take each day's story idea and see what it can become when you play around with it. These are all valuable skills for a writer to develop.
See you in comments. And come back tomorrow for another Story Idea Each Day For A Month.
For other posts in my A Story Idea Each Day for a Month (2017) series, go here.