Starry Sky

You are Nuka Cola and whiskey

the hand and the glove

You are the rolling fog

blanketing the night

and the tick tick tick

of the Geiger Counter

vault dwellers often wear.

You are the cry of the trader

selling goods

and the ferals stirred into action

by blood in the air --

But you are not

the soothing rain on the crops.

T.J. Oliver, Immersive Stories Mod

*Opening lines of a holotape recording voice acted by Caroline Cabal Coniglio. Three holotapes in all. Collectables offered through the Immersive Stories Mod for Fallout 4.

  • Tomson Jane Oliver

I've seen a lot of "story idea" lists out there. Some are more useful than others. As a queer writer myself, I know what it is like to be annoyed and creatively stuck. Whether you are getting ready to write a comedy, romance, perhaps a mystery or thriller, maybe even some fantasy or science fiction, I've put together this list to get your creative juices flowing.

No matter what genre you feel like writing in, have a little fun! And as always, if you like this sort of content, please share it and let me know!

  1. You're preoccupied with serious troubles but someone's got their eye on you -- and they seem lovesick. Is this a good or bad thing? The timing couldn't be worse!

  2. An animal familiar seeks out its human companion, a queer witch, warlock, priest, etc. What does this story look like from the point of view of the animal? What about from the point of view of the human?

  3. An historical queer icon travels through time, ends up in your living room. What do you do besides drool?

  4. A drug allows you to travel down paths of your ancestral line, where you discover various other queer people from long ago that you've never heard your family mention before. What if this is a horror story? What if it is fantasy?

  5. An alien species (that breeds asexually) ends up coming to earth. They've captured you and a handful of your friends for further study.

  6. You're a queer detective, medical inspector, or local busy body. An art collector in the neighborhood has been murdered. Weird thing is, the scene looks a lot like a painting within the collection.

  7. A world where 50% of the human population is queer.

  8. You have an incestuous circle of friends. One just broke up with you and is dating another. Then they both end up missing. Now people are giving you the side-eye. What do you do when people start believing you've got something to do with their disappearance?

  9. You've just become the main "person of interest" for the murder of your current lover but you cannot recall the event or any reason why you'd do that. But you woke up that morning covered in their blood. Your lover is a well-known political activist. What happens next?

  10. A queer teen dreams of a long-term relationship with an alien. The parents would rather die than see their kid date outside the species.

  11. You've just discovered a famous queer musical icon is now re-created as an AI. Do you pepper this digital being with specific questions, ask if you two can date, or do you just wanna make wonderful music together?

  12. A couple's therapist undermines the protagonist during a session. What's the motive? How does the protagonist react? Will this eventually bias a judge in court?

  13. A magical object teleports you into queer "heaven". What does it look like? What can you do there?

  14. You've woken from a comma. You feel bizarre in your body. You feel even more bizarre around family and friends. No one will tell you how long it's been and they've started acting really odd. It is almost like they think you're not really you. As if you've been possessed by a spirit or demon.

  15. Exoarcheologists discover the ruins of an ancient alien temple. The figures depicted within the temple clearly indicate queer love existed for that species but no human has ever met a living representative.

  16. Breathing air on an alien world causes some humans to exhibit unusual sexual behaviors. Almost like they are evolving into something more compatible/symbiotic with life on that planet. Is this a good or bad thing?

  17. A group of queer friends discovers something hidden on a planet during what was supposed to be a vacation. Now they are obsessed with unraveling the mystery behind the discovery.

  18. A witch, warlock, or priest casts a spell on a warrior. At first, that warrior feels cursed but gradually that warrior feels blessed. What is the spell? Why does the warrior change opinion?

  19. A queer protagonist goes from total stranger to hero among a group of tourists visiting an alien planet that's about to be invaded by a faction of Imperialists from Earth.

  20. You're a queer spaceship pilot and you've just crashed on a small moon. But the moon has a mysterious and powerful inhabitant. And they've got their eyes fixed on you.

  21. You've fallen through a portal into another realm. This realm is filled with the souls of the dead from your realm. You meet a queer historical icon who takes pity and decides to help you find your way back.

  22. Most crops are dying and this threatens human life within a colony on a newly discovered exoplanet. Funny thing though, a few grape varieties thrive despite this. You are a highly skilled vintner and your life partner(s), children, and friends = your supporting cast, helping you save the colony.

  23. You are genetically modified to have a high aptitude for logic, and organization. You are surrounded by others who are also genetically modified with high aptitudes for linguistics, science, engineering, math, and mechanics. Together you form a team that's formidable. But all of your lives are threatened by an eminent cosmic event. And it is going to take the most creative thinking to figure a way out of this. And that means fixing the bridge your group burnt making the queer artist living among you feel like an outcast.

  24. A wedding planner bears a grudge against the protagonist who is queer and wants to celebrate the upcoming union with their lover(s) in a very unique way. A comedy of manners ensues. Is this set in the past, present, or future? Is everyone human or alien?

  25. A queer writer is trying to get sober after years of alcohol and drug abuse because they've finally found their reason to do so. What is the catalyst? Who stands by their side? Who or what gets in their way? Does this person finally succeed? Is this story a dark comedy, an inspirational tale? Is it set some time in history, the present, or far in the future?

  26. A society that is so devolved that people who stand out, for any reason, good or bad, get singled out for punishment by the society's overlords who (of course) are exempt from this treatment. Our queer protagonist finds a way to escape, taking how many with them? Where do they go? What do they do when they get there?

  27. A queer hacker with incredible skills for forging new identities finds out an underworld assassin desires them for more than just that. Is this a good or bad thing? Is this story taking place in the past, present, or far future?

  28. It's 1000 years in the future and we still haven't found a cure for Alzheimer's disease or cancer. On a colony world, there's a hospice patient who frequently jumps between flashes of memory over the course of their 200+ years of life. This person is famous but doesn't recall why... The memories that crop up are about love, connectedness, what it means to be alive. Not about the particular fluke that made them an icon. But what was the fluke? Why do people care so much? Why does this not really matter to the hospice patient?

  29. A protagonist (who struggles to deal with the loss of their lover in a war) spends light years traveling between worlds. They assist failing human colonies to evacuate and relocate. Something they wish they could have done to save the lost lover in the first place.

  30. A resident in the community seems nice enough but holds a secret, they are always monitoring those they interact with, recording, surveilling, sometimes even invading. And now our queer protagonist moves into town. This resident lives next door.

  31. A corporate-run colony has been working diligently to perform its work and carve out a decent life on an exoplanet. But there are life cycles on this planet that do not adhere to human-scale time frames. A certain fungus bloom is about to sweep the planet's surface with unforeseen consequences on the human body. A Queer biochemist/mycologist fights to figure out what is happening to the human population as some succumb to strange symptoms and die, others exhibit unusual behaviors, and now the biochemist is also showing signs of being affected too.

  32. A self-centered showoff works in a call center along with the protagonist. The showoff is only working there as a stepping stone to a job in law enforcement. The showoff is actually doing harm to the client base as this is a suicide prevention group aimed at supporting queer youth. What will the protagonist do?

  33. For thousands of years, the gods have made intermittent and consequential changes on a particular planet. The residents know this and worship and fear their gods. The residents periodically develop enough tech to start making attempts to reach out to the gods via spaceship, only to be punished and forced to culturally devolve. This happens every few hundred years. The residents blame themselves for being unworthy, carrying a pang of cultural guilt through the centuries, its origins lost to time. Then our queer protagonist (a human and neither a god nor a resident of the planet) crash-lands. But the human knows the gods are not magical beings. They are Artificial Intelligences developed by forgotten ancestors of the planet's residents.

  34. An ambitious designer scores a lucrative job in an obscure part of the world (or off-world). The location is isolated, lonely, and there are very few people around. The people seem quite odd. Are they afraid of something? The robots and support drones outnumber the people nearly 10 to 1.

  35. Lovers frolic in the woods and discover a brook feeding a gentle waterfall into a small pool. They decide to stay awhile, perhaps eat or make love or both. But something in the woods is watching them. And only one will leave that place alive.

  36. As a young person, the protagonist admires a middle-aged queer person for their creativity in storytelling. They become friends. But the parents think the storyteller is socially beneath them. And eventually, the kid is pulled away from the friendship by the parents. But the kid sometimes sneaks away to hear more of the older person's stories. There is some spark, some beautiful secret, that shines brightly through the eyes of the storyteller. And this kid has tapped into the secret and only shares what it is years later. What triggers the sharing of this memory?

  37. You're doing inventory in the spaceship's cargo bay. Something doesn't add up. There's an extra crate. You examine it. There's a person cryo-frozen, or at least in some sort of stasis pod. This person is not on the crew manifest, nor on the list of known passengers. What do you do? Why is that person in the cargo bay?

  38. Imagine a colony on an asteroid or moon within Earth's solar system that is run entirely by a Queer couple and their Artificially Intelligent minions. What would this look like if it was a comedy? What would it look like if it were part of a horror story?

  39. Forced to marry because your family arranges it for political leverage, you fall in love with your new spouse's cousin, or wizard, or fortuneteller, or champion knight, or captain of the guard, or someone else you run into frequently while at court. Problem is, your spouse can read your mind if your skin touches. What do you do?

  40. Your lover dies and their spirit lingers in your home. You can only see them when you no longer miss them. They think you can't see them because you don't care. They haunt you. How do you turn this terrible misunderstanding around before something kills you?

  41. A bus driver notices one of the passengers is missing. They've just stopped on a short layover and now all but one's returned. What happened to the passenger? And isn't that the same passenger who argued with someone right before departing the original pickup spot? Looked like a lover's quarrel.

  42. A famous architect (and celebrity personality) establishes a colony on a small planet where most (if not all) colonists look up to them as a guru. You're a new hire to help this person keep the circus going. You're a popular and talented interior designer in your own right and have a lot of amazing ideas for upgrades around the place. Personalities clash. Will you write this as a comedy of errors, a romance, a horror story, or a thriller?

  43. Your colony is struggling to survive after mistakes were made by those in power. You have very little power. In fact, you've been conscripted to join a small crew of workers to fix a satellite communication station so that your colony can send out a distress call. Problem is, this planet has all sorts of predatory life, none of which is afraid of you. How do you manage to survive the 10-mile journey between your housing unit and the communication station?

  44. Nothing like being a space explorer, right? Out in your little space hopper, jumping from one little rocklette to the next, searching for prized ore. After years of hitting mild payouts, your tenacity pays off! You've found the jackpot. A rich source of rare metals. The only problem is, a large corporation's eager to snatch your claim. What do you do?

  45. You fall in love with an alien but the alien finds you completely disgusting. Not you in particular, but your species. Apparently, generations of conflict between your two species will do that. Is there any hope for star-crossed love?

  46. You're about to go on a blind date. You've spent a lot of credits to look your best. You want to impress of course. It's been ages since you've been on the dating scene. But when you get there, the date is an alien, a friend of a friend. You've never dated an alien before. You were kind of holding out hope that the blind date was a human acquaintance of yours. Do you show your disappointment? Do you act graciously? Do you give this being a chance?

  47. You've been invited to an alien's house for dinner. You both work for the same intergalactic advertising agency. You're the first human they ever wanted to bring home to meet their mate and ten offspring. They've more than hinted that you are expected to bring a plus-one. What do you do?

  48. A fertility deity wakes from thousands of years of slumber. But not a single worshipper remains. As a matter of fact, only descendants of the species remain--robots, computers, and Artificial Intelligences. Will the deity try to make new worshippers out of them anyway?

  49. An alien child enjoys playing catch-and-release with the little things that fly and buzz near its playpen. What it doesn't realize is that those little things are spaceships, and the humans piloting them have no idea the alien is a child (and one of the few of its kind left in the universe). Will a xenobiology team (headed by a queer scientist) figure out what's going on before the military wing of the human government declare's war?

  50. An eccentric trillionaire loves to play with their toys. Only, these toys are sentient chimera, cobbled together gleefully in a lab this "genius" runs without any government oversight. Our queer protagonist is a guest but doesn't know about the lab. Until something changes.

  • Tomson Jane Oliver

Kicking off my effort to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, I feel excited that prep work done last week is making the transition into writing roughly 2000 words each day possible. I thought I’d list a few things that I’ve discovered along the way.

That ever important human connection:

  • I discovered some writing groups online, through attending conventions, and joining their discord servers. Some of us have teamed up as “buddies” on the site.

  • I started taking classes with Sandra Beckwith and the group she runs on Facebook has a few members who’ve also graciously teamed up as writing “buddies”.

  • Additionally, there are regional groups that are quite active on the NaNoWriMo site and I’ve joined one that is relatively close to where I live. Although none of us are meeting up in person this year (thanks to the Pandemic), there is potential for that down the line.

  • Last but not least, I’ve mentioned NaNoWriMo to friends and colleagues and their feedback and support are invaluable.

Online Resources for writers, from writing aids to online classes:

Books I use and highly recommend, from punctuation and grammar to voice and style:

  • Tomson Jane Oliver

Updated: Sep 21

People have been asking about an update to the Immersive Stories mod project and I'm writing to let you know that development is going great! As of this Autumn, the mod kicks off with a new quest called "Fare Thee Well" which gives the Player an incentive to visit Dillinger Place, a new location we bring to Fallout 4. Dillinger Place itself is composed of three elements:

  • the exterior which is guarded by Tonya and her dog, with two customers loitering nearby.

  • the main room where the Player gets to meet Doc O'Leary, Annie Carter, Maggie Carter, Viola, Donna, Robert, and Branson, as well as a handful of customers circulating the distillery's loft, dining area, medical suite, and workshop. There are a few pets lingering about too.

  • the backroom Speakeasy is guarded by Chuck, maintained by Felix, and used by both Tory and Ernesto, for more mysterious purposes. Elaine is the bartender/vendor and Franny is the cook. If you spot a couple of raiders... best keep it to yourself. Further inside you'll find Gwen's recording /broadcasting room for Dillinger Place Radio, a laundry room, an administrative office, and two guest rooms.

Let's review the Immersive Stories mod from the perspective of a new Play-through.

Once the Player starts a new game, a choice can be made to head over to the trailer just north of Abernathy Farm. There one can find Gwen Dillinger, the mod's main character and fully developed Companion. The Player can choose to chat with Gwen, and there are three options right out of the starting gate:

  • Player can chat and learn a few things about why she's there.

  • Player can swap/trade goods with Gwen

  • Player can ask Gwen to be a companion and share the road together.

Regardless, the Player is given a quest when leaving the area: "Fare Thee Well" which suggests the Player take Gwen to visit Dillinger Place. This location is shown on the Pip-boy Map and Gwen will now sport a "tracker" until the Player takes her there.

Bounty Hunter Quests

As the Player enjoys the Commonwealth's adventures with or without Gwen as an active companion, there are a few quests that will be available once the Player reaches Diamond City. Gwen has unique dialogue, of course, if chosen as an active companion for these quests:

  • Diner to Die For (can be activated by reading a bounty note in the Colonial Taphouse).

  • Polly Wanna Ghoul (can be activated by reading a bounty note at Choice Chops).

Jim's Just Desserts Quest

The Player will be happy to notice a new caravan trader, Old Jim, camped out near the Charles View Amphitheater. This man's tragedy is the Player's opportunity -- help him find justice in an unjust world. If the Player accepts the task, one of the rewards is the ability to barter with Old Jim and there are some choice items available in his custom barter menu that make him quite useful to busy Players.

Minutemen: Rinse & Repeat Quest

As a famous historical quote makes clear, power corrupts and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. So the questions raised about bad actors among the Minutemen have been pondered deeply by Sister Czerneda in the quiet little church just Southwest of Sunshine Tidings Co-op. Details of her research can be found on a terminal there. But the Player isn't the only one looking into Sister Czerneda's business. Can the player find her before it's too late?

Recruitable Commonwealth NPCs for Settlements

The Commonwealth is big, but vanilla game choices for recruiting unique settlers are incredibly small. This mod offers the following unique NPCs that can be found and recruited, sharing insight into their lives and points of view.

  • Sylvette -- (Atom Cat/Former Pillar of the Community)

  • Suzanne -- (Marowski's former bookkeeper, on the run)

  • Rita -- (Plumber/Maintenance worker, grew up in Diamond City)

  • Carol -- (Freshly minted Doctor/Trader, trained by Professor Scara and Doctor Duff of Diamond City)

  • Street Philosopher -- (Vendor/dog owner/ wisest ghoul in Goodneighbor).

  • Adrienne -- (guest at the Hotel Rexford, lifelong baker)

  • Amy -- (Widow/Chef)

  • Donna -- (World weary traveler, customer at Dillinger Place)

Unique Items

This mod offers several unique items. It includes craftable food, settlement crops, weapons, drinks, and clothing. Keep eyes peeled for Dillinger Rye Whiskey and Maggie's Moonshine. Mmm-mmm good.

Treasure Hunt

There are 3 collectable holotapes sprinkled throughout the Commonwealth. Each one has a unique entry to a poetry night contest. Find and listen to them all!

Shadow on Concrete Wall
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