For the next two weeks, we are taking turns explaining how we would go about writing a story based on this prompt:
Lunatic Space Pirates Falling in Love
During Free Fall
The best way I can describe my writing process is this: I take three separate points on the plane of my imagination and connect them, and when I do, they magically turn into a picture in my head. That picture is like a snapshot of the lives of my characters, and I write to get to that moment.
I didn’t feel particularly inspired by the prompt, so I moved on to finding the second point. Finding the second point is like a treasure hunt! I might find it while I’m walking around outside or watching the news. It might be in a book I’m reading, a TV show I’m watching or a song I hear. Anything, really, but it will typically be something completely different from what I’m working on.
I walked around for days thinking, “Ooh! Listen to this news report! It’s full of story ideas. Will IT be the thing that inspires me?” Nope. “Ooh! Look at this flower. Is THIS the thing?” Nope. And the whole time, one song was stuck in my head. My daughter is a HUGE Broadway fan, and lately she’s been obsessed with a show called Memphis, and in particular one song called the Music of My Soul.
But all I felt was pity, for he never understood. How could people be so bad, who made me feel so good? It went right through my body. It dragged me by my heart. It shot out from my fingertips and tore me right apart. It broke down all my senses. It made me feel so home. See I was lost until I found the music of my soul.
Wow. That’s powerful stuff. And I WANTED that to be my second point. I TRIED to make it my second point. But it wasn’t. It got me headed on the right path though, and I only dreamed about it being my story for a couple of hours before the second point burst upon me, in all its glory (at three o clock in the morning). My second point is NOT Memphis. It is Bonnie and Clyde, the other musical my daughter listens to incessantly.
Memphis is the story of a white man and a black woman who fall in love. It’s the story of an epic battle between music and prejudice. Bonnie and Clyde, on the other hand, is a story about two selfish brats who fall in love and decide they are so much better than the people around them that they can take whatever they want, even if they have to kill people to get it. (I realize this kind of tragedy can be powerful. I just don't want to write it.)**
I didn’t want Bonnie and Clyde to be the thing I was looking for, but I knew it was because I felt all tingly when I thought about it, almost like my muse was sprinkling pixie dust over me. Ideas started coming together in my head like tumblers on a (really complicated) lock. After about half an hour of this I silently reminded my brain that this story idea is for a blog post, not for an actual book, and it really ought to shut up so I could go back to sleep. It didn’t work. Instead I thought:
I can’t write such shallow people. I will physically rebel from doing it. Well, maybe they could start out shallow, and grow over the course of the story. NO. Not that shallow. I don’t care if it would be great literature. I categorically refuse. Maybe I could add a third character who could take all the shallow parts. But what if…
Boom goes the dynamite.
At 3:30 in the morning I found my third point and connected them all. My third point is Edward Snowden. His story fascinates me, but it also frustrates me terribly, because every article I ever read about him is seen through the lens of an extremely opinionated person. There are so many lies and twisted truths that I can’t even figure out what is real.
When I collected the three points, it made a brilliant picture of two people breaking someone out of jail (on a spaceship, which makes the jailbreak a little unproductive, since a spaceship is kind of like a prison anyway.)
Here is my story:
Evan has been portrayed as a Robin Hood by some of the media and as the most vile of degenerates by the rest. His sister, Bonnie, has not seen him since they were young, but she idolizes him, and is sure he is a hero, not a villain. When Evan is transported across the solar system she sees her chance to break him out of jail. She is aided in her attempt by a good looking young man named Cade who reveres Evan as the best thief out there. Cade thinks this jailbreak is a spectacular opportunity to embark on a life of crime. Only time will tell which of them is right.
Now that I have the framework of a story that makes me want to write, it is easy enough to build all the other pieces into it:
- Lunatic...one definition is wildly or recklessly foolish which fits Cade to a T.
- Space pirates...I suppose that will happen when they take over the ship, which they will have to do once they rescue the older brother, or all 3 of them will end up in prison.
- Falling in love...the sister and the wannabe thief
- Free Fall...This will also happen when they take over the ship. They will shut the engines down, which will technically put them in free fall, even though they will simply be drifting. (I learned this from wikipedia this morning.)
- Heck, I can probably even throw Music of My Soul into the plot now--I'll give Edmund a backstory filled with breaking prejudicial lines by falling in love with a singer from the wrong side of the galaxy. :)
**Please forgive me if I’m mangling these plot lines. I’ve never seen the shows, just listened to the music, so these are the storylines I’ve concocted in my head.