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What can I do that would result in a good story
December 5, 2012 2:11 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me think of activities I can engage in that will give me lots of good material for interesting stories? I want 2013 to be the year of the interesting story in which I do things that have a good chance or resulting in an interesting story. I want to come up with at least 12 things I can do -- 1 per month.

I'm not thinking bucket list stuff. Skydiving is cool and I want to do it one day, but I'm not sure there's all that much material for a story in it (setting aside the fact that a good storyteller can make anything interesting). Travel is obvious, but there are only so many places I can go next year. I'm in Los Angeles if there are location specific activities though.
posted by willnot to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (38 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
After petting each cat you encounter, take notes: which percentage of cats freaked out when you petted them on the:

- head
- back
- belly
- paws

You can then use this raw data to create an imagined dialogue between two cats, discussing their preferences. Or perhaps write a poem about them.

I'm in Los Angeles if there are location specific activities though.

They should be Angeleno cats, then.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:15 PM on December 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Maybe ride a lot of public transportation? One of my favorite (long defunct) blogs was chock full of interesting stories about life in New York City, and most of the best stories came from stuff that happened on the bus or train.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 2:15 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Take public transportation. A lot. Stories will fling themselves at you.
posted by aimedwander at 2:16 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm in Los Angeles if there are location specific activities though.

Go to a Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society open meeting. A lot of real characters hang out there.
posted by griphus at 2:18 PM on December 5, 2012


Tie a string to a dollar bill and yank it away when people try to pick it up.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:26 PM on December 5, 2012


If you're in LA, do you work in the business? If not, see if you can swing a few days as a PA on a talk show or court TV show. The combination of the level of crazy that the crowds provide and the talent/guest is enough for a few rounds of stories.
posted by banannafish at 2:27 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Offer to sketch people for free on the sidewalk.
posted by chickenmagazine at 2:27 PM on December 5, 2012


Join Mensa. *cue theramin music*

Take up the Theramin (I did, it was really fun and interesting.)

Join a choir. Join a band.

Go to lots of street fairs.

Hire on as a server or bartender for a high profile caterer. See how many famous people you can see at swanky parties.

Teach English to immigrants.

Recreate the I Love LA video. Note what's changed.

Get on a game show. (Price is Right, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, whatever.)

Ride the LA Subway.

Take a boat to Catalina Island for the day. What's that all about?

Visit the remaining movie palaces.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:29 PM on December 5, 2012


Train for a marathon? Half marathon? Running has given me a few interesting stories.
posted by allnamesaretaken at 2:30 PM on December 5, 2012


Do you want material to write about or to be a great raconteur? I'm not sure that doing stunts is going to result in anything all that memorable. You want to meet interesting people--volunteer at the Motion Picture Home, or join the LA Conservancy and take the walking tours of downtown.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:32 PM on December 5, 2012


Are you thinking of stories as in fodder for original fiction, or stories as in stuff to regale friends and family with?

Either way, I suggest road trips! Rambling, no particular destination in mind kind of road trips. The kind of road trip where, if you see something interesting on the side of the road or some weird tourist trap you've always meant to visit, you pull over and you go there. And when you do stop at weird places, talk to the people who are there. I'm sure there's tons of stuff within 1-3 hours drive of LA that would make for a few interesting mini-road trips. I'm thinking especially of just driving into the high desert or somewhere like the Salton Sea to see what you can see.
posted by yasaman at 2:32 PM on December 5, 2012


Take public transportation. A lot. Stories will fling themselves at you.

I tried taking public transportation (i.e., the bus) for work a few years ago in LA so that we could get by on one car. I had times that the bus would simply not show up. So, you might want something a little more dependable for stories.

Unless you want to tell a story where you wait for a bus and it just doesn't show up. I have a few of those.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:33 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Start/join/witness a flash mob.
Interview strangers on anything.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 2:56 PM on December 5, 2012


Write or tell a story every single day. Every day, about something that happened to you that day. You will get better at noticing the things that make interesting stories - whether it's inventing backstory for the couple in Walgreen's or figuring out how to turn "I saw a big spider on the sidewalk" into an epic adventure.

This isn't instead of finding interesting things to do, it's in addition to. I've done a lot of interesting things, but the ones that were the most interesting to live through and the ones that are the most fun to hear about and/or retell aren't actually the same in many cases.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:57 PM on December 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


Online dating! Seriously, I have never had such a fascinating anthropological experience (and that includes living in England!). I have often thought of writing a novel or a memoir based on my time on OkC, and I imagine I may well actually do it someday. Additionally, when I'm having a stressful day, I often will go back through the messages I received, the majority of which are unintentionally hilarious and make me smile or even laugh out loud. There is a certain patois that an improbable number of people seem to write in - one that seems to have been schooled in English by altruistic Nigerian billionaires - that is awkward and bizarrely fetching at the same time, especially for someone who loves language. If you have a keen sense of the ridiculous, there really is no more amusing and interesting thing you could do, in my opinion.
posted by UniversityNomad at 2:58 PM on December 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


I had times that the bus would simply not show up. So, you might want something a little more dependable for stories

This is very true, but trying to figure out how to get home when the L.A. public transit is being L.A. public transit led to the L.A. story I recall most often.
posted by griphus at 3:04 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pick a talent you have , and be a street performer for a weekend.

Experiment with hallucinogens or other drugs (I'm not condoning this per se, just throwing the idea out there)
posted by Fig at 3:33 PM on December 5, 2012


For those asking, I'm looking more the raconteur types of stories than ideas for fiction.
posted by willnot at 3:34 PM on December 5, 2012


I live in Chicago, notorious for being an incredibly segregated city. I try to do a long bike ride into/through the South Side every once in a while. I usually pick a delicious food destination (Original Rainbow Cone! Chicago Home of Chicken and Waffles!), ride +10 miles, eat, ride back, and see a lot of stuff on my way that you just don't see in my northwest side hipster enclave.

I haven't lived in Califas for 7+ years, so my knowledge is outdated, but you know the hood? That none of your friends ever visit? Go there.
posted by Juliet Banana at 3:37 PM on December 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Are you active? You could do a trail run or a burro run - yeah, that's a thing, LOL.
Help Habitat for Humanity.
Volunteer at those pet adoption events or any other animal shelter.
Speed-dating. At least once. Hilarious stuff!
Try new hole-in-wall food places of exotic origin.
posted by Neekee at 3:59 PM on December 5, 2012


Talk to strangers, as much as possible. Talk to them in the grocery line. At the bus stop. Get a weekend job that forces you to interact with people outside of your neighborhood/SES/etc. Become a daily visitor to a particular cafe or bar and observe the goings-on. Get to know the servers, the other regulars. Talk to strangers there. But in all of that, be genuine.

Take classes or workshops (improv comedy, pottery, butchering; not piano lessons) that introduce you to other people, teach you a skill, and break your usual routine. Hang out with other attendees after class.

Say "yes" to everything you don't have a (major) religious/moral opposition to.
posted by knile at 4:05 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Volunteer at an Adult Day Care or a nursing home. You will meet fascinating people who will share amazing stories with you.
posted by hworth at 4:10 PM on December 5, 2012


Volunteer for any art organization (art galleries, film festivals, theatre companies). Most of my stories come from my stint in that world. It's sometimes glam, sometimes mind-blowing and sometimes so awful it actually makes good stories.
posted by Milau at 4:31 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


A few years ago I felt like my life wasn't as exciting as I had hoped it would be. Around this time I read the book "Yes Man" (the Jim Carey movie of the same title was only loosely based on the book).

Give it a read if you've got time, if not let me summarize in one sentence: Say yes to every opportunity that arises. You have no idea how many awesome opportunities you pass up by saying "no," and from those opportunities once-in-a-lifetime stories will come to life.

Good luck!
posted by Stan Grossman at 4:31 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Get a part time job with a lot of public interaction that you don't care about. It may not be good for the employer but if you don't care about keeping the job you will say, do, and hear things you wouldn't normally. My job is certainly not a career position and I get interesting stories out of it all the time.
posted by mrdrummed at 4:36 PM on December 5, 2012


Great stories happen to those who can tell them. If you want to be a great storyteller you should learn about the art form and practice telling stories. The adventures will fall into place.
posted by arcticwoman at 5:10 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was going to chime in to say that the entertainment industry is boring, but I've been out here three weeks and already have a few "Hollywood" stories. So maybe bananafish is right. Maybe it's just more exciting out here.

(Seriously, my first day of work out here involved hanging out with a rapper and his entourage in Compton.)

That said, all of my new stories have to do with "saying yes". Both of the really big ones could have never happened if I'd said, "hm, that doesn't sound like the gig I usually do."
posted by Sara C. at 5:29 PM on December 5, 2012


In a more helpful vein of answering the question, what about volunteering with a public-facing group?

I'm signed up for the next volunteer orientation with 826 LA, a nonprofit tutoring center that mostly focuses on creative writing. So not only would you meet people and have experiences that would become stories, but you would probably become a better storyteller by helping kids tell their stories.
posted by Sara C. at 5:31 PM on December 5, 2012


Teach someone else how to drive. That oughta be fun where you live.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:31 PM on December 5, 2012


Teach someone else how to drive. That oughta be fun where you live.

Even better if it's a 16 year old (or younger).
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:39 PM on December 5, 2012


Los Angeles specific:
*Take a blacksmithing class
*Take a lockpicking class (they'll be back in LA sometime this year)
*Take a class on meat butchery or sausage making.
*Take the tour of the Scientology Center. See if there are any free classes. You could also respond to the "free psychological testing!" posts on Craigslist, as they are all Scientology-run. The only risk is giving them contact information, which they will never stop using, but that is also a story in itself.

Festivals, fairs, flea markets, art walks, and public/open conventions are absolutely awesome. Think: lots of vendors with weird stuff, many of them willing to chat with you during their down time, plus weird contests and events and costumes and people and swag. Anything like that can produce some crazy stories. Examples: I cast the deciding vote on "Worst Tattoo" at a big tattoo convention, pet an adult black panther, been blessed by a marijuana fairy, and made a winning bet in a hog race. Festivals of any type are pretty much my favorite thing ever for this sort of thing.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 5:43 PM on December 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Volunteer at Triangle Square in Hollywood, one of the nation's only gay and lesbian retirement homes.

A former neighbor of mine volunteered there and he had us howling with laughter when he retold the stories the residents would tell him about their lives.
posted by erst at 5:48 PM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's a guy who occasionally sits on an electric box at an intersection near my house while holding a big cardboard sign that says "You're Perfect" for passersby (be they in cars, on bikes, on foot, or other). He appears to have all kinds of story-worthy interactions.
posted by gubenuj at 12:10 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


My experiences may be strange, but take your friends out. Offer to be the designated sober person. Buy all their alcohol for as long as they are willing to drink. I guarantee you will have a story to tell for the rest of your life within 3 episodes of this.
posted by efalk at 2:08 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure if you want to get inspiration for fiction, or tell interesting personal stories about your own life.

This works for either one. Buy an old car will break down often. Try to find one that will need frequent repairs of things that won't irreparably damage the car, but will strand you someplace -- probably the easiest way to do that is to replace the battery with one in very poor condition. Sell any other cars you have, and drive your unreliable car around LA.

One caveat: interesting stories aren't necessarily very fun or very safe at the time.
posted by yohko at 10:48 AM on December 6, 2012


Salton Sea
posted by stephennelson at 3:43 PM on December 6, 2012


Buy an old car will break down often. Try to find one that will need frequent repairs of things that won't irreparably damage the car, but will strand you someplace -- probably the easiest way to do that is to replace the battery with one in very poor condition. Sell any other cars you have, and drive your unreliable car around LA.

Want to switch? Mine is actually reliable enough, but it has just enough things wrong with it that I get into interesting situations all the time.

Recently one of my neighbors spent a solid 15 minutes trying to reattach a piece of trim that was falling off, just because it was bugging him to see me drive around with shit hanging off my car.

Today she was the consternation of at least three mechanics because the engine is isn't throwing any codes, the emissions are great, the ECU thinks the check engine light if off, and yet, the check engine light is on. For some reason that nobody can figure out.

Tomorrow I am going back to said mechanic so they can spend several hours taking apart my dashboard. Leaving me on foot in East LA for most of the morning. Want to come?

OK, because this isn't a real answer to your question, I will contribute another one. Find an off the beaten track immigrant/ethnic neighborhood you've never been to. Somewhere basically safe, but which you would never have any reason to find yourself in. Get lost.
posted by Sara C. at 5:07 PM on December 6, 2012


Join couchsurfing and be a host. There is a ton of people from all over the world visiting L.A. and you will discover your city through new eyes.
posted by travelwithcats at 12:37 PM on December 12, 2012


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