Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Story Idea #1

Well, I haven't finished all of the books on the reading list I posted last Thursday so I can't talk about that. Although I am leaning towards a weekly update on this topic; which will probably mean a couple of short entries (we can only hope) saying I'm still reading X, along with a longer entry or two about something new I started. Ok, that sounds like a plan. Thursday, got it. Deadlines are our friends.

I'm not ready to dive into some other subjects yet, so that leaves me with the topic of ideas I have for short stories I want to write. I'm afraid this post will be maddeningly vague and therefor unsatisfying because I don't actually want to make this first idea public until I've written the story (although I have already told several friends about it in person).

The payoff however, is that I think I will post the story here online once I've finished it. Again, one of the ideas of this blog is that putting these things out in public will force me to work on them.

Story idea #1: I've had two instances in my life where after reading several books in a row about the same characters, I've felt like I could sit down right then and there and at least write a scene about them. A scene set in their world using their mannerisms that would read just like the originals.

These instances occurred while reading about my two favorite pairs of literary characters. The first pair star in a series of humorous short stories and novels. The second pair star in a series of detective stories and novels. For the rest of this blog lets pretend these are Laurel and Hardy, and Holmes and Watson. I promise they actually aren't L&H and H&W, but just play along for a moment.

At first I wanted to write a whole novel about them interacting, but I couldn't come up with an idea to carry the story much further than the first two chapters. These first two chapters are really two first chapters. Oh, I like that, but I guess I should explain. Both of these sets of characters' adventures are written in the first person. So chapter one will be written from "Laurel's" point of view and it will hopefully "feel" just like your typical L&H story. It will end with them deciding to hire S&H and setting up a meeting. The second chapter will be from "Watson's" point of view and will read just like the first chapter of most of the H&W stories; a client arriving and explaining their problem.

Those two chapters I've envisioned for a couple of years. But I just couldn't see where to take it from there. Then I realized I could cut the story off, ending it with the third chapter and have a funny yet satisfying short story.

I even have the perfect title for the story. It blends elements from both sets of stories, enough that once you know who the characters are, the title alone will bring a smile to your face. Well, assuming you are fans of both L&H and H&W. That is another aspect of this story that will be interesting; how do different readers react to it. I would think (or at least hope) that fans of both L&W and W&H would love the story. But if you have never read either, would you find it mildly funny, or just really confusing? Probably the latter. And what if you've read L&W but not W&H, or vice-versa? So this may well turn out to be a good example of "fan fiction," where you have to be a fan to get it at all.

What I need to do now is revisit the outline, which I haven't looked at in over a year, and add in the new ideas that have come to me recently. Then, and this is the hard part, find time to read several of the L&H stories in a row then knock out the first (and probably the third) chapter. Then read several H&W stories in a row and write the second chapter.

I'll keep you posted on my progress. And I'll post more story ideas, without being quite so circumspect, in future blogs.

FYI: Here is a very cool idea, but something I promise you I will never do; a weekly video blog. This one is by science fiction author Tobias S. Buckell.


Win Scott Eckert said...

Hmmm... first you refer to L&H and W&H, but later you slip up and refer to L&W and W&H.

I think the conversion of L&H to L&W in your post is a Freudian slip, as I am fairly certain who both the humorous pair and the detective pair are. Of course, one of conceits of the detective pair, an immutable trait in fact, would necessitate that the humorous pair make an intercontinental journey in order for such a meeting to occur, rather than the reverse. ;-)

In any event, I think the idea is sheer genius and I hope you write it. :-)

Mike said...

Win, thanks for pointing the typo, which I now can't fix...

Actually quite a few of the "L&H" stories are set in the same location as the "H&W" stories. Admittedly, I prefer the other locations where they are usually set, but they do share the same proximity occasionally.

Thanks for the encouragement!