Don’t Forget Me
What if when you died everybody forgot you? Sure, immediate family, maybe a few friends, will remember you, but what about anybody else? Why do you write? Because you have to, for money, for fun, to show off your literary skills somehow obtained during four years of college level beer drinking, to be able to impress girls by saying, “I wrote a book?” How many, whether they admit it or not, write to leave something behind so as not to be forgotten?
What if you were forgotten? What would you do after death to make sure they did remember you. Whether you were watching from Heaven or Hell.
I wonder if the extrovert writer, the one with a family and a zillion friends ( real ones, not the sycophant ones,) writes more for the present rush of accolades, awards and money. I wonder if the lonely introvert writer, holed up in a dark apartment, basement or garret (If there is still such a thing,) whether they admit it or not, might write almost as much to leave something behind to be remembered by than for the money to get a meal or the lights turned back on.
I read a story years ago about a rich guy who was bored with his life, so he had his memory erased and hired men to pursue him. He thought he was on the run from bad guys so he would live his life to the fullest every second. He didn’t want to be forgotten. He wanted a life to remember.
Like the idea of wanting someone to read your blog, what would you do to be remembered by somebody other than those obligated to remember you? In what category would you (meaning you or your character) want to be remembered: Philanthropy, down and dirty, in the trenches alleviating suffering, writing a classic/award winning book/movie, save the planet from alien invasion/ psychopathic demon invasion, a company with your name on it, wealth accumulation, murder? All possibilities that would get you remembered, whether you took the high road or low. I think the low road may be more memorable. Or at least more fun to read about, no matter what genre. I could be wrong.
No matter how you achieve, or fail to achieve (don’t forget that important option) your legacy, keep in mind Hal Croasmun’s New 10 Commandments of Screenwriting at www.screenwritingu.com/blog . If you’re writing fiction, they apply.
On the other side of Don’t Forget me, is Please Forget me. What if you (Well, not you, I hope) or your character wants nothing more than to be forgotten. What if you witness something you shouldn’t and now people want you to forget- permanently. Okay, that’s been done to death, but You probably have a new and compelling take on it.
What if you’re running and you are the bad guy, being pursued by badder guys, or one bad guy. Remember No Country for Old Men? Does that make you a good guy?
What if a family member died and you thought you were responsible, either by action or inaction, and the only way to deal with it is to run as if you were guilty, seeing pursuers at every turn, until you meet someone with the insight and compassion to help you find the truth. Or, you run until madness takes over your soul with unpleasantly fatal consequences for you or others. A psychological horror possibility there.
What if you were running TO something? Maybe your daughter or son is in some grave danger and you have to get there to save them, but your journey takes years? How would that affect you? Make you crazy? Make you hard? Make you do whatever you had to do regardless of the consequences to you or others? Make you forget the person you wanted to save, even as you knew there was someone you needed to get to? At the same time, what would happen to the one you love? Would it be too late? Would they wonder where you were as they suffered? Would they endure their fate only because they knew you were coming? What if they forgot you? How cruel would that be?
J D Salinger died recently. Did he want to be forgotten or remembered? What about the rumored writings in his safe?
Most all story ideas will work for most genres. Whatever genre you write: Horror, Thriller, SciFi, Literary, make sure to follow Hal’s number one writing commandment – Make sure it’s entertaining. Don’t forget.