Imagine a deck of cards that consists of four suits: Characters, Settings, Inciting Moments, and Themes. One card is dealt from each suit. After the cards are acquired, the player can modify them or add others, as long as the modifications are appropriate to the context that is created by the other cards in the player’s hand and any cards that are added from one or more of the deck’s constituent suits. For example, New York City, a Settings card, could be modified so that New York City Subway System and New York City Art Gallery are added as modified cards in the Settings suit. Likewise, such additional cards as Commuter’s Girlfriend, Serial Killer, Cannibals, and Art Gallery Owner could be added to the Characters suit. The recipient of the resulting hand must create a plot for a horror story from the cards that he or she has been dealt.
Characters: A commuter
Settings: New York CityInciting Moments: Struggling photographer Leon Kaufman’s latest body of work--a collection of provocative, nighttime studies of the city and its inhabitants--attracts the attention of prominent art gallery owner Susan Hoff. For his upcoming debut at her downtown art space, she encourages him to get even grittier pictures that humanity's darker side.Themes: Fascination with evil is a dangerous obsession.
Result: Midnight Meat Train: Leon Kaufman's photos of the darker side of humanity inspires art gallery owner Susan Hoff to promise Leon a place to showcase his work at her gallery if he can get even edgier pictures. He begins to film a serial killer, Mahogany, who stalks and kills late-night commuters, thereby endangering not only himself but his girlfriend, Maya, as well.
Here’s another example.
Characters: Crank caller
Settings: College campus
Inciting Moments: During the holiday season a house of sorority girls are harassed by a person making crank phone calls.
Themes: Christmas can bring out the worst in a person.
Result: Black Christmas: On Christmas, a creep begins to male crank calls to sorority girls, who start to disappear, one by one.
Your turn. Here are your cards:
Characters: A mortician
Settings: A funeral home
Inciting Moments: A mortician earns his real living selling corpses to organ harvesters, cremating or burying whatever remains of the remains.
Themes: Disrespect doesn’t stop at death.
What is the result, your story?