In search of Inspiration·Inkling Inspirations

The Case of the Missing Safecracker

A Story Starter with the Story Engine Deck

The inspiration for this Story Starter began with a photo I found on Unsplash. After that I turned to my Story Engine Deck cards. As the photo has this kind of gloomy, almost eery quality I got the idea to make this a thriller of some sort. That’s why I gravitated towards the “Written in Blood and Alibi” box, which is the Mystery Story Prompts Expansion.

Who is in that alleyway?

First I asked myself: who is sitting in this alleyway?

Photo by Denny Mueller on Unsplash – Design by MaureenAstrid

I know, it might well be that the photo is taken from the inside of a garage, but … I feels like an alleyway to me. That’s the first word that came to my mind when I saw the photo, so I stick to that. Writing from my intuition is very important to me.

The Setting

Okay, back to the question. The prompts I got were:

  • A psychic
  • A photograph

Then I asked: who is in the photograph? The prompts for that were:

  • A safecracker
  • Missing

Because I wanted some more information, to add interest to the developing story, I picked a Conflict card and an Engine card.

  • Wants to secure the inheritance of
  • But it will drive someone they love into the arms of another

I also wanted another ‘hint’, that’s where the next Anchor card came in:

  • A dead end

Do you see how this is a story that begins to emerge straight away?

My Cards from The Story Engine Deck

The Story

With all those prompts I could sense the story come to life. A plot started to develop. This is what the story looks like in my mind’s eye:

  • A psychic is sitting with the photograph in their hands of a notorious safe-cracker that has gone missing.
  • The safe-cracker’s sister has hired the psychic to see if they can pick up anything about her brother – because the investigation by the police has reached a dead end.
  • The captured loot of his last safe-cracking job is missing too.
  • She (the sister) needs to be sure if her brother lives or not. She say she’s worried about the actual inheritance of her brother’s belongings, but as the story unfolds it becomes clear she has a special interest in that last loot too.
  • Will the psychic succeed?
  • What is uncovered about the safe-cracker, and the loot?
  • Who will end up in the arms of an (unexpected) other?

There are also some question that come to mind while thinking of the story:

  • What is uncovered about the safe-cracker, and the loot?

Your turn!

Now it is your turn … How do you want to do this?

Oh … and did you notice that the other prompt on the last anchor card says ‘alley’? I love those kind of ‘coincidences’. I didn’t even notice it until I looked closely at the photo I took of the cards later …

Mix it up

Maybe you want to do it a little bit differently. That’s of course perfectly fine! Please make it your own. Choose whatever style or genre you love most.
Maybe you want to use the prompts, but in a different combination. Go for it!
I’ve made a list of the prompts for you. Print (or copy the words onto a piece of paper) – cut them out and mix them up. See what comes up for you. Find yourself one or more photo’s to set the tone, to illustrate the setting, the atmosphere. The Unsplash website is a treasure trove for that purpose.
But… whatever you choose to do, please do YOU. And please do write down the story if the content of this Story Starter sparks your imagination. Promise?
Lastly, if you do write down something, if you share it, please tag me @maureenastrid on IG? I’d love to read what you have written.
Okay, now go on and have fun imagining & writing your story!
Love, Maureen

a psychic
a photograph
a safecracker
a dead end
an alley
wants to secure the inheritance of
but it will drive someone they love into
the arms of another

Image sources & website links

Photo on Unsplash by Denny Müller

I love to use the cards from The Story Engine Deck, because they provide you with instant interest and strong plot elements. This time I used the Mystery Story Prompts Expansion ‘Written in Blood and Alibi’.

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