Ideas can’t be copyrighted, so these ideas are free for you to use
Z is for Zoology. (Skim to the underlined genre or style that best suits you.)
Romance. As a last minute choice, Rolene jotted her name on the sign-up sheet next to zoology. As she thought about writing on zoology as a possible career choice, her dislike for manure and the smell of wet fur loomed in her mind. What was she thinking? And Professor Litchinson would expect a top-notch research paper. Zoology. What a zany idea. Preposterous even.
Rolene spent the next night sitting in on a talk about molecular biology. Ugh. It took three aspirin to get through it. Wednesday night improved. She attended a lecture about animal behavior, and the presenter, a man who made her knees weak every time he opened his mouth, brought two little lion cubs for all to observe. After the lecture, Rolene jiggled the tongue of the zipper to her sweater, a habit when she felt nervous, and stepped closer to the gentleman. And the cubs. “They’re adorable,” she said, ordering her knees not to give out.
She barely made out the man’s words, because her eyes were fixed on his smile and her heart was pounding louder than her voice.
It wasn’t until she felt a cool breeze across her chest that she’d realized she’d jiggled her zipper so hard, it broke.
Okay romance writers. Give him a witty line to save her, and let’s watch these two fall in love.
Mystery. There’s a lot of room for mystery in a zoology department at any university. Consider the wrong person taking the molecular biology course, and as luck would have it, he’s Bria’s lab partner. He utters under his breath snarky remarks about the professor and even said, while looking straight in her eyes, “That traitorous jerk is the only reason I signed up for this course.” Another time he mentioned in what she had assumed to be jest that he’d like to bury that guy (the professor) and put him in a nameless tomb.
Bria had never given the comments thought, assuming her partner was just a negative person having a bad day, until another faculty member addressed the class and announced that the professor was dead. Poisoned, actually, perhaps with something concocted right in this lab. Everyone in the room was now a suspect, and especially those who understood chemistry. How she regretted acing the course.
You can take it from here, mystery writers.
Literary. Daphne appreciated studying in the natural field of zoology. It gave her another way of viewing motherhood. Some animals were so overly protective of their young it made her feel empty inside, because this was a bond she’d never experienced with her own mother. Still, sometimes she’d watch the behavior of the animals, and she thought she could almost feel what a strong love was, sort of like reading a book and living the life of the characters along with them. But then there were those other animals, the ones who seemed to act as though their duty was done as soon as they’d given birth. Watching them felt like watching a reel of her life, an unnecessary thing her mother had to deal with to appease the law and societal expectations. Perhaps her mother was too animalistic–and that’s why she apparently saw no problem in leaving her young behind to make it on her own.
But studying the different animals, the nature of them, did put Daphne’s life in a new perspective. It gave her a different view of her mother, a less resentful view. But Daphne couldn’t deny that it also made her wonder what kind of mother she, herself, would be, if she ever agreed to become one.
Now you have the background on this character, and to give her a place in a literary story, you might have her caring for a specific animal that gives birth, and use the parallel with her own life. Through this type of reflection, she may be enlightened in a way she never would have imagined.
Children’s. To work this big word –zoology–into a story for children, you might consider writing it in a sort of teacher and sidekick manner. Imagine that Uncle Vernon is a zoologist, and he’s bent on explaining the profession to Kyle. “Zoology is studying everything about animals. I study how Koala’s react to their young, where kangaroos sleep, and what giraffes eat. I learn all about animals.”
“Like dinosaurs and aliens?” Kyle asks, stepping his feet up the back of the sofa.
Next, you can have the uncle try to give more information, but maybe with a little more character, perhaps with some antics. Then the young boy (sidekick) will again ask, “But what about dinosaurs and aliens?” (Then use this idea as repetitive interruptions to the uncle’s speech.)
This isn’t really unrealistic. Have you ever tried to have an educational conversation with a child whose mind was set on a particular subject, rather than the one you wanted to discuss? They try to listen, really they do, but they always come back to their own questions. You can use that to your advantage. You can lighten a serious topic, or you can make a boring topic less boring.
I love children’s books, but I admit the textbook style ones don’t even grab me on the first line, let alone hold me. I’ve never tried to read one to a kid, because I wouldn’t know how to make it interesting. But I think it can be done if you add a sidekick to throw in a little humor after every three or four lines of boring education. It will even make the learning part fun.
Then again, if you can imagine an uncle as a zoologist, you can imagine that he’d always have amazing stories to tell and pictures to look at. What would happen if the pictures he had from his visit to South Africa were on his desk, because he treasured them and had been admiring them. Unfortunately, when he left the room, your little character accidentally spilled his grape soda all over the photos. How will he try to cover up or “fix” his blunder? Naturally, in his attempt to make it right, he’s going to make it even worse. After a few times, the pictures are barely recognizable. Now what will your character do?
What ideas can you pull off the top of your head? If you can offer some in genres I didn’t cover, such as horror, sci-fi, or fantasy, please share! Readers will appreciate it.