I have an idea for a story, only it's not really an idea for a story. It's an idea for a system for an idea for a story. And it's one that you guys get to not just help me create, but help me to shape the story itself as a result.
Here's the idea in a nutshell:
It's a Xander-centric story taking place at some point in the history of the show, from episode 1 to episode 144. What's it about? Well that's where you come in.
I want all of you to give me at least one idea for something that happens. Then I will write a story based off of that idea. Whatever the idea is that you give me, that is what I will attempt to write about.
But here's the catch. I'm only going to choose one (or possibly a few more, it depends) idea. And I'm going to choose at random. And I'm not going to tell you which one I chose until after the story is written.
Here's how I expect it to go: Say your idea is that Xander suddenly gains the power to fly. I will go over to http://www.randomizer.org/form.htm and enter in the numbers 1 and 145 (only because you can't do 0-144. So the 1 will count as pre-episode 1 and every other result will be negative-1, if that makes any sense) as the number range, and have it spit me out a number at random. Whatever number I get, that's the episode where Xander will suddenly gain the power to fly. If it's 1 (ie: episode 0) then Xander will have ALWAYS been able to fly. If it's any other number, that (minus one) is the episode that Xander will learn how to fly.
But that's not all. What I want from you guys is hopefully a nice long list of potential happenings. They can be superpowers, they can be traumatic events, they can be happy events, they can be sexy events, they can be crossover events (within reason, cause I can't really write about anything I don't know about) or anything else that I can't think of right now.
Then I will make a list of every single idea you all give me. I will put them into a list, enter the number ranges, and choose one from random.
Then I will write a story where event X happens on episode Y, and we'll see where things go from there.
I can't guarantee what I write will be particularly interesting, but I feel like the experiment of it itself will be interesting. Seeing what gets chosen and how it affects Xander's life could be fun, and since I'm not the one coming up with the idea I don't really feel any pressure to write something up to my non-broken-brain standards. The stories themselves will likely be a bit more compressed than my usual work, but I'll do my best to make it fun to read nonetheless. Mostly though, this will just be a fun exercise to do until I feel more comfortable doing "real" stories again.
But hey, who knows? Maybe this will produce some crazy wonderful idea that will lead into a nice long story. The possibilities are pretty literally endless (pun sort of intended).
My plan right now I think is to limit all of you to at most three ideas each. I don't want anyone to hold an unfair advantage for the chance that one of their ideas gets picked, so everyone will start on even footing. I haven't really decided how many ideas I will choose for the final story, but I think somewhere between one and three will do it. Three might wind up being the final number, because then we can get some real disruptive stuff going on in Xander's life and find out what happens as a result.
So I need ideas from you all! Anything you can come up with is fair game. I only ask that you follow a few relatively simple guidelines:
1. Keep it simple. Your idea should fit into a single sentence and consist of a single change/event/whatever. Don't ask me to follow fifty billion guidelines.
2. All I want is the idea itself, not what you think will happen as a result. "Xander gains the power to fly" is good. "Xander gains the power to fly and this alienates him from his friends" is not.
3. You can go dark, just don't go *too* dark. I won't say what you can or can't suggest as an idea, but I do reserve the right to veto something if I think it's just too messed up for me to ever write about. So don't give me an idea like "Xander sexually abuses children" cause that's just not going to happen.
4. You can, if you want, have something happen to Xander by proxy. For instance "Willow becomes Xander's sister" or "Giles falls in love with Xander." I'm toying with an idea for separate list of ideas for each of the major scoobies (and possibly Faith, Dawn, Angel, and/or Spike) and incorporating at least one thing from them too.
5. Don't be too vague. Your idea should be exactly what you want to have happen/be true/whatever. So while you could say "Xander buys some eggs at the supermarket that turn into dinosaurs" don't say "Xander buys something at the supermarket that does something weird." It should be a concrete idea with definite statements of fact.
6. Three ideas per person maximum -- for this round, anyway.
7. Keep in mind you cannot choose the episode where your idea occurs. That will be chosen randomly. So you can't have something like "When Angel loses his soul in Innocence, Xander stakes him immediately" or "Xander jumps through the portal in The Gift." What you CAN say is something like "Xander immediately stakes Angel if/when he loses his soul", but if this happens after Innocence then nothing will happen until Buffy S7/AngelS4, and if it's after the corresponding episode, it just won't happen at all. So be careful about relating to specific events in the show.
I think those are the only guidelines I need right now, but I reserve the right to change my mind whenever I damn well please. Also, as I said in number four, I'm also thinking about asking for ideas for the other main characters too, but let's just start with Xander and see how that works out.
So there you go! Give me your ideas! Tell your friends and have them give me their ideas! Offer expires whenever I feel like writing, which could be tomorrow for all we know!
(Cut to two weeks from now: Mac is busy agonizing over a ridiculous story he's writing in which Xander is raped by the Mayor, gains the power to walk through walls, and has a talking dog.)
Oh and I guess I'll start things off.
1. Xander gains magically enhanced eyesight
2. Xander's parents are killed by vampires
3. Xander pulls Excalibur from a stone
Edit to add: Oh, and I will post the full list before any choosing gets done, so that you'll all see what the potential story might be before it starts getting written.
Edited again to add: Added one more guideline about being specific with your ideas.
Edited to add a third time: If you post your ideas anonymously, please sign whatever name you'd like to be associated with the idea, as the final list will include credit for who gave what idea. (Also, I'm trusting you guys not to be jerks and start using proxies or some crap to get around IP tracking so as to post multiple times. I'm also trusting that I didn't just tell you how to game the system. Whoops!)
Edited to add a fourth time, because editing is lazier than creating a new entry: Current idea count is at 73, with a few in limbo while I wait for clarification. If you've already made your suggestions, do me a favor and help spread the word. The more ideas on the list, the more interesting I think this will be (and it gives me the opportunity to write multiple stories). Also, if anyone else out there wants to get in on this, feel free to write your own story based on the finalized list. You might find it's kind of fun. Just be sure to let me know you're doing it so I can link to you.
Edited to add a bazillionth time: Added one more guideline/reminder about not basing your idea on a specific episode, because those will be chosen randomly.
Edited to add infinity-minus-one times: My hope right now is to get the list up to at least 100 ideas (we're a little over halfway there right now, possibly 60% if I get some stuff clarified) before I get to choosing, but we'll see if we get that far. I'm hoping that once the weekend/holiday is over there'll be more people wandering by to offer their ideas, so I'll give it a few days. Remember: spread the word! I'm counting on you!
Oh and I've also pretty much decided that the final story will be three randomly chosen ideas from three randomly chosen episodes.
Edited to add new-universe-creation times: Also, let's get some more outside-the-box ideas, people! We've already got three "Super genius" ideas but only one transgender idea! There are very few negative-consequences ideas, not very many "mundane" ideas, and a frankly disgraceful lack of very many sexy ideas. What's happened to you, fandom? You used to be full of sexy ideas! I fully expected 50% of the ideas to be about Xander having sex, if not more. I am ashamed to call myself a
(The above is a joke, if you haven't gotten it. Feel free to submit any and all ideas you like. Don't go by my suggestions. Although I think I'm calling a moratorium on "super genius" ideas. Three is enough. Anyway, get to thinking!)
Edited for the last time? Don't worry if you're late to the party. You can still make your suggestions, and I'll still be adding to the list for future iterations of the Great Random Xander Story. So hop to it!
Edited for the nope-not-the-last-time: Okay, I'm calling it quits on the "Xander dresses like character X on Halloween" style ideas. There are already way too many of those on the list, and frankly, I think we can come up with some better plot devices, people. There are a billion Halloween stories out there. Let's do something new.