Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Stories ideas inspired by real-life events

This is the section of the blog where I briefly summarise the story ideas that come out of events in my life, conversations that I have with people or even things that I read.

I hope that over time, I will have the time to finish some of the stories, maybe even place them with a publisher. I don't promote this site much, so the chances of an editor or agent actually reading are slim to none.

But if, by some twist of fate, you end up here, and you like one of the ideas I have outlined, send me a quick email to ask. I might have finished the story by then, or your email will give me kick in the pants I need to finish it.

Happy reading!

Children's stories

1. Thandi goes banking

Thandi counts her coins and goes to the bank with her mother to open an account and deposit her money. This story continues the adventures of Thandi, who recently set her on fire.

Thandi has been saving money in her piggy-bank for a long time. Now her mother is taking her to the bank to help her open a bank account so she can save money from her piggy bank there.

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2. A pox on you Bobo!

Thandi has a fight with Bobo and in the middle of the fight, she says something like ”A pox on you!” The problem is, soon after Bobo gets sick with chicken pox and Thandi thinks she bewitched her friend. She tries to take the curse back, but nothing seems to work.

This story will be more than just about chicken pox (health), it will also address children’s tendency towards guilt when things go wrong (social/psychological) and how they can blow things out of proportion.

It will also talk to kids about fun fairytales versus superstition that hurts, and how friends have to learn to say sorry.

3. City Life, Rural Life

A city boy is dragged back to the village to visit his relatives and at first he is unhappy, but he learns to appreciate the simple life that the village offers.

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4. 10 days to make rain

Princess Shezi, the rain Queen of the people of Phokeng, has to make rain in 10 days or lose her crown. Her people is facing a terrible drought, and if rain does not come soon, livestock and crops will start dying the villagers will lose faith in the ability of the royal family to protect and provide for them.

The problem is, in order to bring rain, Princess Shezi has to perform a ritual which includes the sacrifice of a young girl.

Shezi is a modern woman and believes in the laws that govern people in modern times, and so murder is not an option.

Princess Anika, Shezi’s sister and next in line to the throne says if Shezi doe not have the courage to “protect her people,” then she has to surrender her throne.

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5. Email to Santa

An African girl emails Santa to tell him the gifts should like to receive for Christmas. Her parents did not grow up believing in Santa, which creates problems and comic situations.

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6. Thandi loses a tooth

When one of Thandi’s teeth gets lose, she asks her mother to pull it out for her. Bobo, on the other hand said she’d rather go to the dentist.

Things get even more interesting after the teeth are extracted. Thandi throws hers on the roof and asks the gods to bring her a new tooth, while Bobo puts hers under the pillow so the tooth fair can bring coins and a new tooth.

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7. The people of Tshufi Hill

This story is about a community that regularly showed up in the forest on Tshufi Hill, everyday from noon till one o'clock.

To the people of Phokeng, who were afraid of them, they seemed like ordinary people going about their lives eating a mid-day meal, doing laundry, working and taking care of their families. However, no one knew where they came from, and at 13h00, they'd go poof, and disappear.

8. The legend of Manjanja

If you don’t behave well, I will call Manjanja to come and get you. That is how parents in the village of Phokeng threatened their naughty children to keep them in line.

Children in the village were afraid of Manjanja. Those who had seen him described him as a short, fat, squat little man with an enormous head, big tummy and one big eye in middle of his forehead. His voice was deep and rough, and likely to give you goosebumps.

What the children didn’t know was that Manjanja was as scared of them as they were of him. He was also scared of the dark, and kept a torch lighted at all times so that he can see any creatures that approached him.

Manjanja was especially scared of the short, smooth-skinned human babies. His Uncle Trevor warned him that they were particularly destructive – they throw stones at you, spit at you and scream loud enough to burst your ears. And if they come close enough to touch you, they pull you by the hair or ears.

One person knew that Manjanja was afraid of kids – an old woman everyone called Nkoko Thabiso.

Tween novels

1. Finding a new home

From the beginning, I knew money to help me run away to Aunt Sara's would be a problem, but I had a plan.

My friend Rahab’s family own a shebeen in the village, and she has access to money people pay for the beer with. I was sure she wouldn’t mind giving me some of the money to pay for the trip.

Secondly, it was afternoon when I decided to run away from home. Rahab lived about 7 kilometres from my house – a very long walk. There was no way I could start on the long trip that day.

There again, the fact that Rahab’s house was a shebeen came in handy. The whole family was used to having strangers in the house. Who would notice one extra person spending the night?

I packed some clothes, wrote a goodbye note to explain to my mother why I could not live with her anymore, and left. I was 11 years old old.

2. 73 things I want to do before I turn 16

Lisa, almost 16, found more than she bargained for when she went through her younger sister Anna’s school bag, looking for a pen to borrow.

She found a note, written in Anna’s handwriting, which said: “I hate you. I hate you now. I will hate you until I die.’

Who was Anna talking about? Who/what would inspire such strong hatred in a 9-year old girl?

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3. My two mothers

No matter how nice and comfortable 13 year old Nandipha’s life is in the city with her adoptive parents, she always misses her biological mother.

Her mother is widowed, poor and has five sons to take care of, so she gave Nandipha away to a barren relative to raise.

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Story Collections

1. A story a day

A collection of 365 children’s stories which have a maximum of 400 words in length. The stories would include my own contemporary stories.

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2. A collection of folktales with modern twist

The collection would not have the popular stories such the ones about Anansi etc. It would have folktales from my childhood, some of which have not been written about much.

These include Sananapo, Tselane and the giant ogre, Mmatladi and the giant, Ralelatlha’s foot, the Jackal and the Ostrich, The people of Tshufi mountain, Changing fate

3. The biography of Happy Sindane

Several years ago, Happy Sindane, then aged 19, walked into a police station and told the officers that he thought he had been kidnapped and raised by a strange family.

When the story first broke in the media in South Africa, many people belived he boy was right to allege he was kidnapped and raised by strangers.

With Caucasian features, including blonde hair, how could he be born to the Black family that was raising him? The only question was where his real parents were and how soon the media coverage would drag them out of the woodwork.

DNA tests however proved that the woman she thought kidnapped him was his biological mother. She had since passed away. His German father never came forward to claim him.

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1. A parent's guide to protecting children against harmful cellphone content

Last year I decided that as I'm a techology news journalist, and know a lot about the provision of cellphone content and the dangers it poses to children, I should write a non-fiction book on it.

I already have the contacts in the cellular and industries, as well as the legal and advocacy organisations to understand the dynamics of what's going on and where the problems are. And if the complaints I receive are any indication, I can easily source consumer views.

Relevance for today's parents: In Africa, cellphone content promises to be more prevalent than internet content. There is also a thriving cellphone content industry that could potentially send harmful content to a child without parents knowing about it, as credit card payments are not required.

2. The History of Messaging

I've also been thinking about a non-fiction book for children on "The History of Messaging."

Today sending a message via email, IM, SMS is so instantaneous and unless there is a technical glitch somewhere, smooth. Even in rural Africa, where there are still millions of people living below the poverty line ( by first world standards), cellphones and SMSes are prevalent.

This is unlike the hundreds of years past, where messengers had yravelled long and hard, had to overcome dangers in order to reach their destination.

The book would look at the evolution of communication methods - from homing pigeons, pony express, morse code, a letter and telegram to courier services, telephone etc.

Each chapter would include:

* The history/invention of the tool
* Short biography of inventor
* Description of how tool works
* Real life story of how a life was saved or a person’s life was changed by the
tool in some way
* Unknown legend / adventure tale associated with method
* Current/historical usage statistics
* Pic/Illustration of tool ( and its evolution, if there was one)

Relevance: The book could be fun - a collection of adventure tales and interesting bits of facts, as well as being educational. The potential is for international publication, rather than local.

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With the exception of entries specifically credited to individual authors, the content on this blog is copyrighted by Damaria Senne and may not be reprinted without permission.