Schenectady Writers Service 10/1/1957

Ideas: Bridges. Bridges are fine symbols that can be fit into a story, but as objects they have interesting story ideas.

  • Some people are afraid to cross bridges (gephyrophobia) and many bridges that are very high or long have people who offer the service of riding a car across the bridge for a frightened person. Why would a person fear crossing a bridge? What kind of person makes a living riding other people across a bridge? Suppose the person driving gets off in the middle of a bridge and gets out? Why? If a person closes his eyes in the back seat for the entire trip across the bridge, where is the person when his eyes open? What other strange things can happen while crossing the bridge? What happens when two bridge drivers meet on a bridge, each going the opposite way?
  • Bridge trolls. In Scandinavian fairy tales, trolls live under bridges. What modern day trolls live under bridges now. Is the troll a hobo? Is he a millionaire who likes the setting? Is it a lost child who is looking for the troll to help her find her way home? Is a murderer escaping from the police? What happens when one modern day troll meets another who wants to up residence? What happens when someone crossing the bridge looks down and sees a troll? What do bridge inspectors do to roust the trolls so they can do their job. Do trolls get to pick the color of the bridge since it is their home? Did a troll decide that the Golden Gate bridge would be red?
  • Bridge Tolls – some bridges collect tolls. Usually the told is a nickel or a dime. What else might a bridge toll collector ask for? What would a person give to cross a bridge when his life is in danger? What if a person needs to cross a bridge to save a life and does not have the price of a toll? What happens when a person “runs the toll” on a bridge where dire consequences have been threatened to toll evaders? What if there was a dangerous alternative to crossing a bridge and paying a toll, would it be worth risking your life to avoid a 10 cent toll on the dangerous path?
  • Suicides. Some bridges are magnets to the poor souls who can no longer deal with life. Do some bridges actually attract suicides? Why? If a body is not found after jumping off a bridge, where did it go?
  • Bridges are bottlenecks for traffic and cars seem to wait for bridges to break down. Why do cars always seem to breakdown or run out of gas on a bridge? What if it was someone who was trying to prevent someone from crossing the bridge?
  • Bridges often span different countries, states or counties. What changes occur at the center of a bridge. Do different people get off the bridge than got on. Does a change of a person’s emotional or physical state occur as one crosses the center of a bridge.
  • Bridges are built to move in the wind. If they did not sway, the wind would cause them to break. Do bridges dance in hurricanes?
  • Bridges are usually strung high over water or deep chasms. The wind plucks the cables of suspension bridges like violin strings. Do bridges play music in storms? Does the sound of the vibrating cables sound like voices? If so, what do they say? Who do they warn? What secrets can they tell?
  • Draw bridges are lifted so boats can pass. Why else might a draw bridge be lifted? What else travels the river and needs the bridge lifted? What about the boats that travel under a lifted bridge? Do they fear that the bridge will come down too soon and crush them? What if they do?
  • Often evidence is tossed from a bridge into the depths below. What happens to all the guns and other murder weapons? What happens to the corpse tossed from the bridge?
  • Abandoned bridges are often left in place. Why would a bridge be abandoned? What would happen if one crossed and abandoned bridge? What are the dangers of crossing an abandoned bridge?
  • Crossing a railroad bridge is dangerous because if a train comes, you can only jump off the bridge. You can’t out-run the train. What if a person is crossing a bridge and a train comes? Can they swim? Can the survive the jump. Is there another way to survive the passing of the train?
  • Washed out bridges strand people on one side of the bridge. How does one cross a washed out bridge if it is necessary? Why would someone feel compelled to cross a washed out bridge? If a bridge is covered by rushing water, how do you know if the bridge is still there, or how deep the water is?
  • The George Washington Bridge in New York is constantly being painted. A single crew starts painting the bridge and by the time they finish, it is time to start over again. What can the painters think about this job? What is good about it, and what is bad? How can a painter remain creative and build a giant masterpiece in brushstrokes of gray paint?









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