Take a phrase, any phrase. My example is ‘having kittens.’ In researching the phrase I discovered its originates from the medieval age that began in the 5th century with the fall of the Roman empire through the 15th century covering the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery.
It was believed by many during this era that a witch could cast a spell on a pregnant woman and turn her baby into kittens that would claw at her womb. In fact pregnant women who fell under this spell believed it wholeheartedly, some seeking an abortion for fear of ‘having kittens.’ In fact, in Scotland it was believed that a woman could give birth to kittens if she accidently ate food upon which a cat had ejected sperm. Apparently these beliefs were in vogue prior to the Age of Discovery. I do suggest to cat lovers, however, you do not leave out food a cat can get to, just in case you understand.
Now that we know where the phrase originated from and what it meant, a story can be created. Which way would you like to go?
A Medieval woman has a spell cast upon her. She is a cat lover and believing what the witch said, she does in fact give birth to kittens. The kittens are all black and that is good because there was also a superstition that if a cat wandered into a wedding, it was good luck and the couple would be fertile. So the mother of the kittens rents them out for weddings and makes a financial killing. Up0n her death she leaves her fortune to-of course a cat.
But what if the woman hates cats, is afraid of cats. If said woman was having an agonizing pregnancy, a witch would tell the poor woman it was because she was going to give birth to kittens. The pregnant woman could only be cured by buying and drinking a special witches potion (some witches were unscrupulous you know). So the woman buys the potion, and when she gives birth, instead of kittens, there are puppies. The new mother did not know the witch was senile and gave her the wrong potion.
The point of course for writers is to dig around, play with words, play with phrases, do research. You never know where it will take you. It might cure you from having kittens.