Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Recipe For Writing

There’s a short story brewing, and I have no idea what it’s going to be about, or who is in it yet. That’s one of the most weird things about writing, and I wonder if other writers get it too. It’s that feeling that something is going on somewhere in your mind, and it’s going to land in your brain like finding several ingredients in your cupboard, and you have no idea what you’re going to fix for supper.
There have been times I knew more about what I was going to write before I wrote it, and then there are times something has appeared as if by its own volition, and it seemed to write itself. As I sat down to write this, the first paragraph was more or less planned but this one seems to have slipped in and joined the first, as if I was walking along a wooded path, and discovered a dog at my heel.
Stories are like that, you know, you get an idea, and you push it along, or it pulls you like a puppy on a leash will, and suddenly the leash slips and you discover the idea is off somewhere on its own, and it’s found a friend. Now, it has occurred in the past that the new idea that is tagging along with the idea that you just had becomes the idea you needed all along, and the first one becomes more of an afterthought, running away into the distance to be called back again, perhaps, one day.  But the new idea, the one that was just along for the ride there for a while, is suddenly in the driver’s seat, and you’re impressed with it, like you will be with a new friend, or a new lover, who has some musical talent, or some skill that you couldn’t see or tell from just looking.
But the new idea is a wanderer, just like the last one was, because they all are, you know, and if you don’t know that, you might as well start now in collecting cloud formations, because ideas are a lot like that. So the new one slows down long enough to pick up a friend, and it’s like two clouds that are at different altitudes forming something you never thought of before, and you image the two together makes something much better than either alone, so you take them both and roll them together, and maybe you add a character to the story, or some creature that no one else has ever thought of before, and you like it.
It’s really no good having these ideas unless you have a place for them to live so you start inventing landscapes or scenes and from these thoughts springs the idea that a dream you once had about a house might work here. Your ideas move into the house you dreamed of, and they make it their own, and remodel it a bit, and ideas will remodel your dreams, by the way, get used to that pretty quickly, too.  So you suddenly have someone that never existed living in a place built just for this person, or creature, or idea, and you have something that is going to happen, or perhaps the creature is thinking about attracting humans to the house to eat them, and you had no idea you were writing a horror story, but it is close to Halloween so why the hell not?

So there you are with the creature and the house it built, and damn, okay, it cannot have a house, so it has to have a cave, and the cave is in the mountains, and there has to be a reason for the cave and the creature so you invent a pot of gold hidden in the cave, and when people come to steal the gold, the creature eats them. Of course if the creature ate everyone who came to get the gold there wouldn’t be much of a story and even the creature knows this, and it is doomed as soon as you invent a hero for the story to rescue the woman who was kidnapped by the creature, but no, that has been done before so you have a woman going to rescue some guy that went to steal the gold, and there the new idea is formed outside the norm, and you have the twisty.

So there are three, maybe four of the hero type guys going to kill the creature and steal the gold, but the creature has been doing this type of stuff for a while now, and has hired out the front door to hungry gremlins who eat two of the guys before they get killed, and the one true hero makes it in, but the creature wants to save him for a snack, maybe in a few days. But the hero’s horse returns and tells the woman of the event so she goes off into the mountains with the horse to rescue the guy. The woman and the horse debate as to why guys do these sorts of things, and that gives you a chance to ask some serious question in the story.
The woman leaves the horse outside the cave, because let’s face it, a dead horse by this time would also injury the story, and she makes her way past the dead gremlins, and one of them isn’t dead, but wounded, and she tries to help the poor thing, and in return for her kindness, which it has never experienced, it tells her how to kill the creature. She waits until she hears the creature snoring, and she sneaks in, and tells her guy the only way to kill the creature is to steal the iron pot, and leave the gold, and so they do this, but the guy is greedy and he tries to slip some gold past the creature, who wakes up and kills him. The creature chases the woman, but she makes it outside the cave with the pot, and the creature explodes into flame because sunlight kills it.

Sometimes a story comes to you like this, while you’re waiting for another, and it just happens.

Oh, and the woman and the horse live happily ever after.

And just for Meagan, the woman’s name is Kim.

Take Care,
Mike

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