Run, Baby, Run!

 

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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?

“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.

Bridge to Nowhere

Bridges to nowhere don’t do anybody any good, except the people who get paid to build them, because bridges are connections, whether physical, emotional or mental.  They bring countries, cultures and people together.  Of interest to writers, destroying them  allows one to put a barrier up to the other, possibly, permanently. Hence, “Burning your bridges.” 

Humans have been putting up, crossing, and taking down bridges since the first caveman thought,  What if  I drag this log across this stream? Maybe I can cross to the other side and connect with that cute cavegirl I saw up stream.  That’s how bridges get started, whether a chicken or a culture, somebody wants to get to the other side.  Unfortunately, there’s often  somebody on the other side who doesn’t want you to cross. And that’s when the trouble starts. 

It could be that a bridge is a good idea, but nature is the barrier, see “The Ghost and the Darkness.” Or the bridge is a bad idea and human nature keeps it down, see “The Bridge On the River Kwai.” Up or down, bridges change things. A fallen bridge may be an inconvenience to a commuter, or a new bridge could be the death knell of a culture.  In either case there’s a conflict, and conflict is what writers, and readers, crave. 

IDEAS

What if a bridge could be built across the Straits of Gibraltar to Africa? How would that have changed the world, depending on when it was built? An Alternate History writer’s cornucopia.

What if a young woman has a meeting with a man who owns the biggest and best bridge building company in the world? Though she has no training, her designs are elegant and beautiful. He can’t get them out of his mind. The opportunity arises to build one of her designs. Though the design can’t possibly work, it does and is hailed as the most beautiful bridge ever. On opening day, as the man, and his wife? who have semi adopted the woman who has no family, or past, watch the woman walk ahead, she disappears. Stunned, they can’t figure it out. Finally they find clues in her apartment and as they walk in the same place, they also  disappear. Suddenly, they are on another planet, in another dimension, the future, past, Heaven, Hell, alternate universe.  They must find the woman and get her home–or must they? There are always other bridges to build –physical, cultural, or mental.

What if a wormhole is discovered on another planet. It’s floating in air over the Y junction of  three canyons.  They have to build a 3 way  bridge to get to the entrance from each side (country?). Lots of political wrangling (conflict.) Extremists may go to any length to prevent it, or to make sure it does get built. And what if the wormhole has three exits and you don’t know where you’ll come out–someplace Hellish, Heavenly, or pure utopia. Maybe the story of 3 people. Each ends up in a different place and we find out about each place from their individual experiences. A 3 book series! A bridge to bigger and better things.

What if  you were a child and your  parents are getting divorced and you don’t like the idea? How far would you go to build a bridge to keep them connected. Would you do something extraordinarily (beyond normal human abilities?)  good so  they would be forced to come back together for you? Would you benignly manuever them to a lonely cabin hoping they’d get together, but a storm comes in and they have to fight for their lives, together. Maybe they die and that’s your bridge to the mental institution where a kindly doctor builds a bridge to you and brings you back across to sanity, except you have these slightly extra-normal abilities that he wants you to use for some nefarious world domination scheme.  OR, you could do something nasty like sell their souls to the Devil, send them to a haunted house, cabin, town, tunnel, pit, planet, or your own basement. See “The Cask of Amontillado.” Together forever.

What if, not to be negative all the time, Boy meets Girl, Boy loses Girl, Boy/Girl has to build an emotional/cultural/maybe even physical  bridge to connect to the one they love.

What if there was a bridge and people came to it and it collapsed? Why were those people there at that time and place? Were they all connected, or brought there by fate, chance? Or  perhaps driven by love, hate, desire, or criminal intent.  See The Bridge of  San Luis Rey.  In a similar vein, draw bridges can be frustrating, especially when you’re in a hurry. Like Red Lights, they can be the great equalizer, everybody has to stop, rich or poor, late or early. What might be the difference in your life, and the life of those around you, or that you are running toward or away from,  if you make the bridge or don’t.

By destiny or free will, this is my bridge out of here.  Feel free to run your bridge idea by me. I’d love to hear other ideas. And don’t forget to connect with www.smashwords.com/profile/view/davidburton.

 

 

 

What If didn’t finish the script I’m doing a quick, and radical, rewrite on? That’s a good question, that I don’t want to know the answer to. That’s why I haven’t posted in a while.

This script I’m writing with a partner could be a bridge for both of us to something big. I have some ideas about bridges which I will post when I’ve finished this draft and my partner is reading it for the first time. That will be interesting. 

Advice, comments and suggestions are always welcome.

And that’s my bridge out of here for now.

Entertain Me

On her blog,  Cassandra Jade in the Realm, at www.cassandrajade.wordpress.com, Cassandra asked for comments on what is most important in a novel. As a published (two novels and one on the way)  and unpublished (yikes that many?!) writer, and an aspiring screenplay writer (yikes, that many scripts in the drawer?!) I wasn’t sure how to answer that, until last week.

I get several screenwriting newsletters. Last week I read Hal Croasmun’s New 10 Commandment’s of Screenwriting (www.screenwritingu.com/blog) and found my answer in the first commandment.  No. 1 – It has to be Entertaining.  Sure, all those other annoying details like plot, character, pace, dialogue, theme, subtext, and proper grammar are important. But what good are they if the story doesn’t entertain you? If you have to force yourself to keep reading in hopes of finding the good stuff, that’s not entertainment, that’s work.

If  you  want me to work at reading,  send me your manuscript or script and some money and I’ll read it and tell you what I think. Just make sure it’s entertaining.

IDEAS

What if there was only one singer in the known universe, galaxy anyway, and almost all the rest were no better than American Idol rejects? Except for a few who were pretty damn good, but they weren’t allowed to sing because there was only one True Singer. What if these few singers secretly banded together to assassinate that Singer so they would have a chance? What if you were the one responsible for the Singer’s security on all the inhabited worlds?

What if you wanted so badly to be a wildly successful entertainer that you tried to make a deal with the Devil, but he didn’t want your soul. So you made a deal with God. He would give you what you wanted, but after you died, loved and adored by your billions of fans,  you owed Him a small off-the-books favor. And now it was time to pay up.

What if you were a great entertainer and was, along with other entertainers, collected by a sociopathic alien, sorcerer, witch, demon, president or CEO and every performance had to be better than the last and if it wasn’t you ended up next to the butterflies with pins in them. What would you do –  steal from the others for your gain, band together with them to escape, work on your own to escape, work on your own so all could escape, sacrifice yourself?  What if you were the one who had to go out and do the collecting? How far would you go and what would you be thinking?

In any case, entertain me by checking out www.smashwords.com/profile/view/davidburton for all your e-book needs.

Don’t Foget Me!

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.

IDEAS

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.

FORGET ME

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.

Black or White?

I’ve heard that white letters on a black background gives some readers a headache. So I changed the template. I didn’t like it so I changed it back. If anybody has a headache problem, let me know. I’m flexible.

Speaking of black or white, here’s a story idea for someone with the insight to write it right.

What if a black/white  man, boy/woman, girl was in love with a black  man, boy/woman, girl and  a white  man, boy/woman, girl?  A book/film exploring the prejudices and problems that might bring could be a powerful/hilarious story.

SPEAKING OF LONELY

What if you were the only racist on the planet? If everyone else on the planet had come to their senses and did not care what race  anybody was and you were the only one who hated other people because of  their ethnicity, what would that be like? How would other people treat you? How would you treat them? Would you eventually see the wisdom of the world, or would you embrace your hate because it made you different?  Would you try and recruit others to your bigotry, start an underground KKK revival?

It seems to me there would be  a loneliness component to your life, everyone wants to be a little different, but the only racist on the planet? I might  have to have a little bit of sympathy for you, maybe even admire you for sticking to your beliefs. If you were persuasive enough, maybe I’d join you, help you seek converts, after all, I’d like to be different, too. It’s human nature.  And maybe future history books will cite you as the one person who brought a certain kind of diversity back to the world.  It could happen. Though I hope not.

Black  or White encompasses much more than race– Good or Evil ( no small subject) Day or Night, Right or Wrong, what to wear to a wedding.   But those are subjects for another day.

Don’t forget to check out my e-books at www.smashwords.com/profile/view/davidburton