Thursday, September 9, 2004

Story idea abrewin'

Was reading King's _On Writing_ on and off today. He and I are of the same mind: the story tells the writer and the writer tells everyone else. A good writer, an ethical listener, can't force a character to achieve some arbitrary plot goal. He has to study the lines and respect a character's motives. He has to treat the story like life, rolling with its punches and adapting it to his ends as best he can. This affirmation got me thinking...

An author is spinning a tale and its climax hinges on one of the characters disclosing an important secret. But the character won't spill the beans. The author knows the story is nigh to a close, but he needs his character to tell his secret. This is the one thing, however, the character will not do.

The author becomes increasingly frantic. He starts shouting at his computer ( or typewriter, depending on his means and style), "Tell me what you know!" He starts forging traps and scenes to pressure the recalcitrant character into confessing. A police interrogation ("Just tell us what you know, sir."). A cloying lover ("Why do you keep secrets from me?"). A dream sequence that, alas, never reaches deeply enough into the character's psyche to find the gold.

That's all I will tell you now, but it's meant to be a murder mystery of sorts. There is a bizarre twist at the end, based on the intersection of some of the character's abilities and some seemingly extraneous details the author wove into his tale thitherto.

I was electrified by this tale and plant to commit some focused time to fleshing it out.

No comments: