Archive for March, 2010

Don’t Go In The Water!

Posted in Novel writing, screenwriting, Short Story Writing, story ideas, Writing with tags , on March 30, 2010 by davidburtonwriting

Water, whether you love it or it terrifies you, you got to have it. Dying of thirst isn’t much fun. Your blood gets thicker and thicker and eventually there’s only a red dust tumbling through your veins, like one of those old dolls filled with sawdust. Unless you are possessed by an evil spirit, or, if you’re lucky, a good spirit with a sense of humor, you’ll be blowing’ in the wind,  baby, like a dust devil in the desert.

Of course, too much is just as bad for you. If you’re one of those athletic freaks, oops, sorry, species who go to bed and get up with the mantra hydrate, hydrate, hydrate coursing through your brain like a Noir murder mystery movie  where the old Victrola is playing the same relevant refrain of a scratched record over and over before revealing the dead body slumped over the desk, you don’t want to drink too much water. Drinking too much, whether, flavored, fortified, purified, or, God forbid, plain, will turn your blood into a thin rusty tea, that won’t do you any more good than red dust.

Drowning is no fun either. And even though I’ve heard that it’s not that bad a way to go, sucking in that first cold lungful of water’s  gotta be a bitch. In any case, whether you’re in the ocean a thousand miles from land and your boat sinks and you can’t quite make it to the liferaft the wind is blowing a little too quick for you to catch up, or if you’re dead drunk face down in three inches of gutter water, lungs full of water are not a good thing.  Either way, or any way in between, that whole life passing before your eyes thing might be trippy.

A lot of people like water, sailors, divers, surfers, fisherpeople, beach goers and Real estate sales people among them. I like the water and hope to be sailing on it again one day. Abby Sunderland likes water. Otherwise, she wouldn’t be attempting to be the youngest person, she’s 16, yes, 16, to sail around the world singlehanded, nonstop. If a 16-year-old girl can do it, I can, too.  You can follow her blog at http://soloround.blogspot.com  or at www.abbysunderland.com . She should be rounding Cape Horn as you read this. Yea, Abby.  I am so jealous.

Many people don’t like the water. I don’t know why, except it might kill you and that most likely  just beyond the limit of your visibility, whether that’s one foot or two hundred feet, something is waiting to eat you. I’d sail across an ocean in a minute, but I have no desire to jump in the water a 1000 miles from anywhere because I know, I know, that if I do, a long tentacle will shoot out of the depths, wrap around my leg,  and drag me down. And not to introduce me to some long-lost Atlantean civilization where I’ll live forever in undersea bliss. Those monsters down there are HUNGRY, man.

Sure, water soothes the soul and all that. We’re 90 something per cent water and like attracts like. We even respond to the pull of the moon’s gravity, just like water. Must be why a full moon pulls the werewolf out of us. But, soothing your soul while you lay on the sand soaking up all those nasty sun beams doesn’t really make for exciting stories like–

IDEAS

What if you were sailing for the S. Pacific and you were stuck in the Doldrums and to bide your time while waiting for the next rain squall, you looked into the water and saw something swim up out of the depths and it wasn’t a tentacle but a mermaid. Not  a Manatee, those old-time sailors must have been really hard up to mistake one for a mermaid, but a real mermaid, or merman. Maybe she begged you for help, told you evil gangster mermen were after her, and you helped her. Brought her aboard, made a bathtub of the cockpit. The thing is, is she running from the gangster mermen, or was she escaping from mermen police? What is her/his agenda, and are you helping because you really believe there’s a mer-something in your cockpit? Or is he/she pulling a Call-of-the-Siren thing on you and leading you astray?

What if you woke up one morning and heard the dripping of water in your head? It would not go away, drip, drip, drip. You tried to go about your business, but there it was, drip, drip, drip. Sometimes a bit faster, sometimes slower. You try to move away as it drips slower. Blocks, miles, cities, states, countries, the sound slows, but never stops, never…stops. Like the Chinese Water torture, you become so used to the drip, drip, drip, when it stops you go crazy waiting for the next drip of water on your forehead. Finally you have to  move toward the dripping, following the sound in your head, faster, faster it draws you toward the source. This is now your quest, your life. You wander, miles to the North, miles South, East, West. Is it faster this way? This way? Slowly you narrow down the location. Your heart beats faster. You know where the dripping water comes from. You remember. Dread fills you. No. Not there. Please, not there. Yet the drip, drip, drip inexorably draws  you to… your redemption or damnation.  Which do you deserve?

What if you were a boy or girl on the cusp of adulthood in an Island society? It was time for your ritual ceremony. You drank the potion, breathed the special smoke… and woke up in a small boat on a big ocean. You had a little water, a little food, and no idea where you were, what direction was your island? What would you do? Survive, perish? Find your Island, find another island? Sail into legend as the mysterious sailor who brings good or bad luck if sighted? What adventures might you have alone a sea with only your wits and the creatures of the sea to help you?

What if the Apocalypse came and went and you were still here and controlled the only water source in a hundred miles. Would you share it, hoard it? Dole it out as long as  the recipients did what you wanted, vile or virtuous? Virtuous at the beginning, how long until you passed the line to wicked to protect your water, and your power?

What if you had to take a Heart of Darkness trip up a river? Lots of things can happen, real or otherwise, on a journey up a close jungle river, whether accompanied by friends (are they really?) or strangers. Which ones do you think you should trust your life to?

Think about it. I’m sailing off into the sunset for awhile, figuratively, if not literally. Untie that dockline, will you?

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Your Own Piece of Heaven

Posted in Novel writing, screenwriting, Short Story Writing, story ideas, Writing with tags , on March 24, 2010 by davidburtonwriting

Read to the end or check out the comments for the last post to see other replies to my Hell question.  

Thanks to all of you who submitted answers to my Hell question in my last posting. The consensus seems to be that not knowing why you were sent to Hell would be worse than knowing. If you were a real criminal type you’d always think you were innocent and you’d make yourself miserable thinking that somebody framed you and it was all somebody else’s fault!  If you were a one-off criminal you’d beat yourself up wondering what did I do, I wouldn’t do anything bad, it was somebody else’s fault!    

Molesters, pedophiles and serial killing sociopaths  probably don’t care.  They only care about doing the nasty things they do.  Once they go to Hell, most likely they’re put in some kind of cage or cell where they can see all the other souls, but never touch them. You have to wonder if they got loose in Hell if  molesting, raping or murdering a dead soul is as good  for them as a live person. One might think that would be Heaven for them. Except for the ones who get off on eluding the Police. For them, it’s Heaven on Earth.  

What would Heaven be like for regular folks? Would it be a regular one size fits all place, where you wore a toga, drank wine out of fountains and basked by the cloud pool all day without having to worry about sunblock? Sounds a bit boring. How much better could a tan get after 10-20 years of forever, anyway? Besides, one man’s Heaven might be another man’s Hell. If I had to go to the Opera every night I’d be wondering what I did to deserve this Hell and whose fault was it I’m here!  

I’m pretty sure, though I certainly don’t have any inside information, that Heaven is an individual thing.  For a writer, every book would be a bestseller and every script would at least win an Oscar for best original screenplay, and just to add a little excitement, maybe a best picture Oscar. For a salesman every client would be smart, savvy and devious, but he’d always make the sale.  A race car driver would always win the hard-fought race. A sailor (my personal choice) would always have fair winds (whatever his idea of  fair winds is) a safe anchorage and varnish that never needed touch up.  You get the idea.  For the really lucky ones, Heaven would be no different than life. They’d slip on into death and barely notice.  

There is always the question of who gets into Heaven. Do you have to believe to get in? That’s a question for another time and place. Though feel free to comment. To see my personal idea of who goes to Hell, and using the same criteria, to Heaven, read my book Hell Cop.  

IDEAS 

What if  a soul meant for Hell was accidentally sent to Heaven? If Heaven is an individual place, how would a detective or bounty hunter find him/her? Would each piece of Heaven border others, or would they overlap, every soul seeing their own little piece of Heaven? Who would be the detective/bounty  hunter’s sidekick? A saint, an apostle, JC himself? Maybe Joan of Arc as a Femme Fatale.  

What if the opposite happened? An innocent soul is sent to Hell by mistake. In that case see my Hell Cop books. I’ve mentioned this before, but what if a soul meant for heaven was kidnapped to hell by a stalker/admirer with a long memory? Could she escape? Would she escape? Would anybody help her?  

What if you got to the Pearly Gates and St. Pete told you your records for the last ten years had been lost and you had to go back and live those ten years over again? And by mistake you remembered  what you had done those years and so had the chance to make them count, not only for you,  but others. What would you do?  

What if God took a vacation and  some slacker/pothead got to be in charge for a week?  

What if the woman/man you loved died. You missed them so much you wanted to die so you could be with them. So you accidently/ on purpose died. In Purgatory they called you on your death – suicide, no Heaven for you. But you got to appeal the decision. What would you say to plead your case? How would you explain the power of love?  

Speaking of which,  I would love to continue on but it’s time to close the Gates for the night and return to my little piece  of Purgatory with a lovely view of the River Styx.  

Other Comments on th Hell question.  

I think the latter would make the story more interesting but the storyline would have to have a positive outcome in the end. People like happy endings or some life revelation unless it has a great twist at the end – similar to the sixth sense movie.
 
Oh, clearly that I did NOT know what I had done. As a bad guy I would constantly have to review and relive all my transgressions, wondering what — or who — and tripped me up — and I wouldn’t even be able to exact further revenge! 
 
Worse to be there and not know why (although I could probably guess), since most bad people never really see themselves as bad.

  

    

   

    

Where are we?

Posted in Novel writing, screenwriting, Short Story Writing, story ideas, Writing on March 19, 2010 by davidburtonwriting

Hi All,

I have a question to do with a screenplay I’m working on. I hope you can take a minute to consider it and submit an answer in the comment section. —- If you were a bad person and died and got sent to Hell, all torment and punishment being equal, do you think it would be worse for you to know what you did to get yourself there, or worse to know you were in Hell, but not know why you were there?

Thanks for your comments. And speaking of Hell…

Location. Location. Location. That’s the mantra of Real estate. But it’s a fairly important concept for regular people, too. Where are we now? Not just physically – Jail, work, home,  city, state, country, planet, galaxy, universe ( if they apply to you or someone you know.)  On the road – whether walking, driving, sailing, flying, by plane, helicopter, balloon, or (if this applies to you, all Clark Kent wannabes) just flying on your own. But where are we financially, socially, culturally, politically, psychologically,  relationship-wise?

Knowing where you are right this second, is usually important in figuring out where you will be in the next 1000, 1,000,000,  100,000,000 seconds. But a lot of people don’t give  a damn. They’re only interested in NOW. There are, however, plenty of weirdo geek, pundits  out there to take up the slack and tell us Where We Are, and their favorite, Where We Will be. Unfortunately, (though not according to them) they’re often contradictory, if not plain ass wrong.

Also unfortunately, even if they are wrong, or making it up as they go, there are plenty of people who are in such a place that they will believe anything, and in extreme cases act on anything,  these know it all people say. That’s not right, and has led to many a tragic story, in  both fiction and real life.

It’s important to know if  you’re  in the wrong place at the wrong time, right place at the right time,  or any of the  variables, when you ask that big question – Where amI? And once you’ve answered that question – then what? You have a choice to make. Just like any good story, the choices the character (you) make determines the outcome. Being in the right place at the right time can easily become wrong and wrong if somebody isn’t thinking and makes a wrong choice. To go or stay, fight or run, pick up that bag of money or not, help that person or not, open your mouth or not. The choices are endless as are the consequences. If they weren’t, there’d only be two stories ever written. He did or he didn’t.

IDEAS

What if you woke up with your spouse and another couple on sailboat in the middle of the ocean without a clue how you got there and where you were? And maybe one couple didn’t get along so well. Think Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf  meets Dead Calm.

What if a family is on a road trip vacation and the spirit of a murdered child took over their GPS, guiding them to locations where they’ll find clues to the killer.  

What if  a spaceship is hit by anything, or has an explosion and all the crew are unconscious for a long period of time. They wake up close to a planet, but all their nav instruments are knocked out and they haven’t a clue where they are or how to get back to civilization. And what if they discover a huge deposit of a very valuable material while exploring the planet. They’ll die filthy rich if they can’t get home. And if there is a helpful/friendly, murderous/paranoid  alien race on the planet, too, how does that affect their attempt to figure out where they are?

What if you were the best man/maid of honor at your best friends’ wedding and you were late getting into town and didn’t know where the church was and you just couldn’t find it because a Trickster who had a thing for the Bride, or the Groom, or had something against them was making it impossible to find the church,  but then the bride and groom figured it out and the wedding was about to start but couldn’t for some reason without you so they ran out of the church to stop the Trickter and find you and hilarity, and maybe a bit of violence, ensued, before the wedding went off perfectly. Whew!

What if one day you woke up and you could make a connection with a missing person, through their possessions say, and  go exactly to where they are, dead or alive, as long as you kept up the connection, which took up quite a bit of your energy. But if the connection was lost, it could not be regained. No fake psychic stuff, the real deal. And what if a child was kidnapped and the kidnapper knew you were on the trail and so he kept moving, knowing that eventually your energy would run out and the connection would be lost. No pressure there!

And I’m feeling the pressure of being behind in the editing of my new book, Blood Justice, so you know what my location is going to be.

Cheers.

Run, Baby, Run!

Posted in screenwriting, story ideas, Writing with tags on March 10, 2010 by davidburtonwriting
 

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  Running can be broken down into two categories – Running to, and Running from.  Sure, there are subsets  – Running scared, running wild, crazy, in place, for fun (now there’s a horror story!) or running out of gas. All can be taken  either literally or figuratively

Running in place may be a third category. After all how many of us work hard, work fast, scramble to get things done that need to be done (or we think need to be done) yet end up where we began. This may be over a period of hours, days, weeks, months, or years. A tragic story way too many of us experience for real. Hence, the development of religion. Work your ass off to survive in this Life and no matter how bad it is here,  there’s Heaven waiting.      Whether you go for that or not,  it’s a subject for another day.

One of my favorite running movies is Run, Lola, Run. It’s three versions of the same run showing how one tiny change can lead to a very different ending.  It’s unique and entertaining. Check it out.

Opposite of Lola’s run is the running (metaphorically speaking) of  different paths that all end up in the same place. Destiny or Free will? Another one for another time.

Another question you might explore is, What If your character thinks he’s running toward something, but is actually running away from something. When/how do they figure that out? Do they have the courage or insight to stop and confront? Is the prize ahead worth what they’re leaving behind? Is the prize ahead what they’re running from so they’ll end up where they began? The happy ending. Or will they keep running and tragically never reach their goal which is behind them?

There are plenty of reasons for your character to run from something. Bad guys are after you. Good guys are after you.  Aliens, demons,  monsters, nature,  your past, are all legitimate reasons to run and can be good stories without delving too deep into philosophical, psychological, religious, emotional, or legal underpinnings of the character’s motivations.  However, to be a great story, you might want to look under a rock or two. Having two characters running together, for different reasons (In their minds) won’t hurt either.

We’re all running toward the same final finish line. Some  rush headlong toward it, not believing they’ll ever really get there, but they will.  Some  keep running in place, ignoring it, thinking they’ll never get there, but they will.  Some actively run from the finish line, using herbs, and potions, and diets, and mental tricks, believing they’ll never reach it, but they will. And some, way too many, are tired of running and can’t wait to cross that line.  Support your local Suicide Hot line.

IDEAS

See above. If you can’t find a story idea up there, slowly close your word prossesser and walk away from the computer.

What if you ran or you died? I don’t mean run, or that piano falling from the thirteenth floor is going to crush you. I mean what if  “something,” real or imagined was chasing you and you knew that if you stopped running it would kill you.  If every time you looked over your shoulder there “it” was.  To stop, was to die. What would you think? How would you handle it?  What if you were a marathon runner and could keep going and going and going? How long could you go before you ran out of steam and gave up, ready to die? What about the jerk who followed you, taunted you, laughed at you, called you crazy, threw beer cans at you? Would you stop, grab him, and just before the monster shredded your bodies, remind him what an asshole he was, and say, “See, I’m not crazy.” What about your followers who ran with you a la Forrest Gump? Would they feel vindicated if you stopped and was torn to shreds? What if  you stopped and wasn’t torn apart, it was all in your mind – you were crazy!! Would they tear you apart so they could feel good about their belief in you?  Would there be a time when you went from running “from” something to running “to something? Maybe someone you love is up ahead and if you could only get to her/him you’d be safe.  Maybe as you began to believe in yourself  more, the monster, Real or Imagined, would fall farther and farther behind.

What if  you couldn’t  stop running. Literally! For you Stephen King wannabes, maybe you did something you shouldn’t have and drew down a curse on yourself. “You want to run through my flowers, Buddy? I’ll show you running!” And you kept running and running and running and couldn’t stop if you wanted to. How would you eat, drink, sleep, shit? Where would you run to?  Eventually your shoes would wear out and you’d run barefoot, then your feet would run out and you ran on bones, then your bones grind down  and down and you finally die but keep running through the night and thus become the Legend of the Barefoot Runner.

I’ve mentioned this one before – What if a loved one was in danger and only you could save her/him and you were half the world away and your path was continually blocked but you had to keep on running though it might take years. How long can love keep you going? Or hate?

That’s the thing about running of any kind, to get where you want or need to go takes courage, determination, toughness, perseverance, friends, guts and luck. Keep running for your goal, you’ll get there.

That’s it. I gotta run.

 

        

                                                                                                                   
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What the Hell?

Posted in story ideas, Writing on March 4, 2010 by davidburtonwriting

“Hell’s a Hell of a place.” That’s a quote from my novel Hell Cop. Or it should be. I might have left it on the editing room floor.  The point is Hell is a bad place to be, therefore it’s a good place to write about. Just ask Dante. He’s been milking it for years.

Everybody is familiar with the Christian version of Hell — fire and brimstone, demons and the Devil’s minions doing unspeakable things to the deserving. Of course there are some who would like to have some of those unspeakable things done to them, but that’s a subject for another time. Hell is for the people who do unspeakable things up here on our level. It’s meant to scare humans into being God fearing ( shouldn’t it be Devil fearing?) citizens so they won’t do bad things. The thing is, the people who do those things don’t give a damn about God or the Devil. Well, okay, there’s the religious fanatics who give too much of a damn about one or the other.

Not every religion has a Hell to it.  For some it’s just a black void, some have a sort of town dump area, some have a Purgatory type place where you can eventually work your way out, some reincarnate you as a living being either up or down the scale.  That could be a special kind of Hell for some, like maybe a hot shot Wall St. trader who drops dead after living too large on other people’s money (whether they know it or not) and comes back as a fly on the wall where he hears all the cool, secret insider info and can’t do anything with it!! Now that’s Hell, baby.

There’s lots of different kinds of Hell, it’s not all underworld fun and games. There’s plenty of Hell on earth. Just ask the people in Haiti, or Chile, the starving and poor in India, Africa or here in the USA, or people dealing with tsunamis, or volcanos or hurricanes. And don’t forget the more interior Hells: Jealousy, greed, guilt, love, hate, depression, addiction, despair, marriage, divorce, grief, poverty or pain. All these Hells are bubbling brimstone for writers. The stories aren’t only in the coping with your particular Hell, but the descent into and, with luck and fortitude, the ascent from your torment.  A writer could, and probably has, made a career from this last paragraph.  

IDEAS

What if a stalker attacks you but you end up killing him instead? A few years later you die and while your waiting in line in Purgatory, the stalker kidnaps you and holds you captive in his own private little spot of Hell. And you escape. That would be an interesting pursuit. Would you finally end up safe in Heaven? Who would help you? Other souls? Are all demons evil and nasty,  or are some workaday demons who don’t want to get involved and will give you directions to the way out? What if you couldn’t, didn’t, or chose not to make it out. What would you do with Free will and eternity in Hell?  —– I wasn’t going to give out any ideas I might be considering for myself,  but I couldn’t resist. Do I go to Heaven or Hell for that?

What if you were kidnapped, conned or forced into slavery, whether sexual or otherwise. What sort of strength or courage might it take to break free from that kind of Hell? Would you save others, either right then or later when you were safe? Would you go back to rescue others, or be too afraid? Or would you save yourself and leave the others? What if you were so dead inside that you couldn’t tell anybody else and later you heard that the others all died. Would guilt be your new Hell? Would another person’s love help you conquer that guilt and allow you to attempt to make amends? Or would your guilt be so strong that you would turn that person away as a self imposed punishment?

What if Satan lead all the demons in Hell into space and they settled on a planet, and years later a colony ship of humans landed on the planet? What would they find?

What if Satan lead all the demons in Hell into space and they settled on a planet. What would Earth be like without them? Would psychopaths take over the tormenting duties? How would God fair without his counterpart to play the bad guy to His Saviour?

What if some future leader eliminated the Hells on earth of poverty, famine, abuse, etc.? How long do you think that would last? Do humans need a Hell to blame?

If you are a believer in Hell, what do you think it’s really like?

To read about what I think, check out Hell Cop and Hell II  – The Golden Palace at www.smashwords.com/profile/view/davidburton.

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