Monday, December 2, 2013


Does this ever happen to you?

As mentioned, my writer's block finally ended and last week I did a bit of work on the projects I have had going for a while now.  Nothing special, but I was making progress - and not very much of that either due to real life interruptions etc.

Then it hit me.

I woke up at the usual time (or maybe a bit earlier) on Friday, and was poking through the news while drinking my coffee as I usually do.  I came across a reference to this story:

The tale seems obviously related to some gangland violence and I was just about to dismiss it as tragic (horrific actually) but a few days old with no new details - so probably not that important in the wider scheme of things - when a voice in the back of my head said "what if..."

What if it wasn't a gang hit? What if the world was more interesting, and the explanation was more mysterious...more sinister?

I popped the URL into an email to my brother (with whom I often exchange commentary on interesting news stories) along with a speculative paragraph proposing the scene of a burning man stumbling into a church as the opening to a movie, with the tag line "imagine a movie..."  Then I hit send.

Boy, was that a mistake.

Ten minutes later, I'd already written a sketch of the first couple of scenes in "replies" to my first email. Half an hour later I had another scene sketched and sent off, with more bubbling in my head - I couldn't stop thinking about it!

On the train, I sketched out a couple more on my phone, emailed those too so that I could be sure they wouldn't be lost.

At work, I used my morning coffee break to add to it.  At noon I wolfed my lunch, closed my office door, and spent 45 minutes pounding out a couple more scenes. Now I was starting to get a good sense of the characters, their back stories and their names (which just came to me!).   In fact, all morning I stole a minute or two here and there to open the growing file and just pop in a couple of bullet points, a fragment of conversation, etc.

Sadly, circumstances kept me from doing any more on it for the rest of the day and evening, but I still couldn't get the story out of my head.  I zoned out during a meeting and had to ask the presenter to repeat something because something about a photo in his presentation slides forced me to start thinking about what the villain looked like, which made me think about his role, which made me think about his past...

Again, life intruded and prevented me from doing anything significant with the story over the weekend, though I did manage to splice the fragments together and clean them up a bit.  In the roughly 6 hours I was working on it I got 9 pages of sketched out screen play, which I think would probably make about 40 minutes of movie.

The ideas are still coming fast and furious.  I already know in general terms how the story unfolds, how it ends, and even how it might continue after that. I already have vivid images of the villain and the wise mentor (both of whom have yet to make an appearance in what I've written).

The tale has taken over my mind and my life.  If this momentum continues, I'll be done the first run through by the end of this week and be ready for fleshing out - at which time I'll have to decide whether it will stay a screen play or transform into ordinary prose.

So, does this ever happen to you? Do odd stories in the news, or events in life suddenly take over and consume you - compelling you to write them?

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