Friday, October 06, 2006

A Free Plot


Out of the plenitude of platitudes that populate the writing world is the reversal: life imitates art.
You may remember the writer whose thriller on subway bombings was due to be released the day of the London debacle.
After consideration, however, remembering the Aum Shinri terrorism in Japan some years ago and the more recent atrocities in Spain, one realizes the apparently shocking coincidence arises, not from the event but the timing of the event.
However, appreciating the average time frame required - both for writing and selling a novel and for planning and executing a major incident - this congruency then appears somewhat less unusual.
Human behaviour tends toward repetition. Writers depend on that factor to apply reality and recognition to their stories.
Recently I posted a snippet that began with a bloodbath in a Toronto hotel. Guess what was the featured news item a few hours later?
Logically, one should not be surprised if one finds elements of one's plot in the morning media.
After all, consciously or unconsciously, that's the source of many of our ideas, so the basic platitude is the true one: art imitates life.
Just yesterday a Yahoo news item contained a beauty, a tidy novel plot, read-made for several genres.
In case my fumble fingers and the vagaries of internet do not link, the story capsule is this:
A man is mistaken for a bear and shot at dusk by his wife on a hunting holiday in a remote area. His father claims it may be murder because she had a proper scope, had upped the husband's life insurance a few months past and his son had expressed concerns to friends.
One potential scenario says she's a guilty hell-bitch; another says she's a guilt-ridden innocent victim of misplaced suspicion by sorrowing father. Vicious revenge, other motives, and variants of setting may apply. Enter intrepid law inforcement/private investigator/best friends, etc. 50-50 evidence that may be interpreted either way.
Ideas really are everywhere.

21 comments:

Scott said...

You know what Bernita? Run with it. Great pick, right out of a news story. You're right, ideas are everywhere; but you've got the writers eye and nose.

jason evans said...

Ideas really are everywhere. Truer words were never spoken!

S. W. Vaughn said...

Oh -- how fascinating! That does sound like a great idea!

Have you ever had friends or relatives approach you with ideas for books? That can be an interesting experience. :-)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Scott.
Don't think it's my thing but thought it was a clear and nicely adjustable example!

Find it's usually not "what" but "which", Jason.

Fortunately, not too many, Sonya. While they know I "write," I've been keeping it vague and dark.

Carla said...

Another says she could be the victim of a destructive marriage who finally snapped. Another says she could have been framed or manipulated into it to someone else's gain, i.e. some third party told her there was a bear around and told the husband to walk around in the dusk knowing there was a high chance she would make the mistake. Another says the father is out to get her. Or borrow half an idea from Rebecca and have the husband suffering in secret from a terminal illness and arranging a suicide that would look like an accident (or that frames her for murder if you want to borrow the other half).
The possibilities are limitless.
Are you going to write it? :-)

Jen said...

I got an idea for a book from an old fishing story my husband told me. One of those "Believe it or not" things.
I often get great ideas from stories around me and then try to put my own twist on them.
Love this blog, Bernita. Brilliant as always.

Jaye Wells said...

It always amazes me when people ask where writers get their ideas. It's about filtering reality through you're own filter of experience and view point. Easy peasy. ;)

Carla said...

Oh, not to mention the shapeshifter paranormal plot (the husband really was a bear).

Bernita said...

Exactly, Carla!
And suitable for several genres and sub-genres - romance, horror, mystery, paranormal, procedural, psychological thriller...
No plans to write it - just liked it.

Aw, thank you, Jen!
I relate to that, appears I need some basis in fact or reality to set my imagination off.

I sometimes wonder if those questioners are really as unimaginative as they appear, Jaye, or simply have some fixed ideas about writing in general.

With a subsequent haunting/ geas/ curse added to the mix, Carla!
Or the fairy tale trope of the enchanted character having to be killed in order to break the curse, or...

MissWrite said...

Oh how true. Plot bunnies are jumping around everywhere for the decerning eye to find. Making them sit still and behave for 2-300 pages can be tricky--that's where the relatives, and the ladies with the 'I should write a book I gotta million of'em's' fail in their belief that anyone can be a writer.

I actually just had someone (recently found out I was an author) write to me for advice on what to do. It was a rather vague first email, so I took the bait and wrote her back that I'd be happy to give her some advice if she were a little more specific...

yep, you guessed it. I have the idea all mapped out in my head, and can see the story... now how do I put it down on paper.

Hey, the eternal question, right? That's what it means to be a writer.

Patry Francis said...

You're right about ideas being everywhere, and the possibilities to develop them just as variable.

It might be fun someday for several writers to write a short story about the same plotline (say your bear plot)
and then submit them to publishers as an anthology.

Sela Carsen said...

These things certainly give credence to the idea that "truth is stranger than fiction."

Bernita said...

Oh, Tami!
"Now how do I put it done on paper..."
Who was it said, "the question is the answer?"

Don't know, Patry -
the basic facts are more restrictive than a single theme, or the vastly different stories resulting from a single picture ( like Jason's.)
Not sure it would work. Readers like variety.
Might make a great "hand-book" for other writers though...

Yep, Sela, and as it has been as often said, fiction is handicapped because it usually must make sense.

Gabriele C. said...

I was reading about the Picts - yep, I still do research about them, they never cease to fasciante me, and our library has a cool new book.

The battle of Nechtansmere (aka Dunnichen Moor) would make for a nice climax in a novel about Picts and AngloSaxons.

Hush, back in your basket, bunny.

Bernita said...

Which reminds me, Gabriele, that a novel based on my post's plot need not have a contemporary setting...

Carla said...

Do I have to fight you for that one, Gabriele? :-) Nechtansmere is on my list too. The high-water mark of Northumbrian power, it was all downhill from there. And his wife and sister and St Cuthbert had warned Ecgfrid he was asking for trouble and he wouldn't listen.

If it doesn't have to be contemporary, one could also play with the old idea of sacrificing a virile male to the Mother Goddess.....

Bernita said...

Um, Carla, I can think of several better things to do with a virile male...

Carla said...

I think the idea was that the Goddess wanted to do very similar things with him....

Gabriele C. said...

Lol Carla,
I think the world can do with two Nechtansmere books. Look how many there are about Arthur or Edward II; doesn't seem to have done any harm. :)

And you will sure give the women more room than I.

M.E Ellis said...

It's so true! Quits was written at the beginning of the year, released about a week after that young girl had been found after many years of being missing. She'd befriended her abductor much like Barb in my book.

Strange stuff!

:o)

SassyJill said...

You're not paranoid if someone is really after you.

The most amazing stories often are ones no writer of fiction could ever imagine ^_^*