Monday, December 13, 2010

The usefulness of television

By Steve Weddle

First, some housekeeping.

Thanks to those who stopped by the DSD Book Group to talk about PIKE from Benjamin Whitmer. Some good ideas there about a really good book. Swing on my if you haven't. Join in. It's free.

And congrats to Pulp Metal Magazine, celebrating its one-year anniversary. Good stories popping up over there consistently.

And be sure you've checked out what the Day Labor blog from Crimefactory is up to with the year-end lists. Also, Mr Rhatigan has some good TOP FIVE stuff going on over here. And, of course, ATON continues its run of awesomeness with 600-700 here.

And DSD's own TERMINAL DAMAGE continues to sell well over here. Thanks for reading.

Remember when Jay Stringer said not long ago that writer's block doesn't exist and that anyone who says he/she has writer's block is a sorry excuse for a human being? And Joelle said you should give yourself permission to not write. And Scott said that's good, but you should still kick your own ass when you don't. Yeah, remember all that?

Well, you can get blocked. You can have a day without ideas. Maybe you wrote a few thousand words yesterday. Maybe you're between projects and just need a break. Some sherbert to cleanse the palate, or whatever it is the rich folks do.

You can pick up one of those books with writing prompts. Look in one of those writing magazines. Heck, when I was doing that namby-pamby poetry stuff, I used Richard Hugo's THE TRIGGERING TOWN for some great prompts.

What has surprised me, though, is how great TV is for writing prompts. Not the shows. The Guide. The dumb little descriptions for some show that's going to waste the next hour of your life.

When I'm stuck I'll scroll through the Guide and steal an idea. Sometimes this works out great. "Dylan promises Brenda a Valentine evening to remember." Um, yeah. Sometimes it doesn't.

Here are some fun ones:

"A young mathematician is show with a 200-year-old bullet, inspiring wild theories by Castle about a time-travel murderer." Just write that murder scene, but then through in something crazy about the evidence. An old bullet. A stolen Samurai sword. Spontaneous combustion assault. You can get going from the investigator's point of view. Or maybe the cops come into the pawn shop where your guy works and they want to know why an Army shovel stolen from your store was used to kill the mayor's nephew. Heck if I know, but a museum-piece murder weapon is a great way to get some ideas going.

"Annie is injured while pursuing a fugitive and is forced to rely on Ben Crowley." OK. I don't know this show. But I'm guessing Annie and Ben don't get along. Maybe there's some sexxxy tension in there. I dunno. I guess Annie's normal job is to chase fugitive's. So you open with her coming off some successful case and falling into the new one. But, oh, that Ben. He's a maverick, that one. He doesn't play by the rules, which angers and excites Annie. Like I said, I haven't seen the show. I just thought you might want one a little sexy.

"Hank is cut by the Eagles and it turns Kendra's life upside down." Hmm. I got nothin'.

"Bond saves the world from Blofield's space laser and bikini-clad amazons Bambi and Thumper." Space lasers are the scariest kind, aren't they? The ones on Earth just point from the science lab to a kick-ass college party. But those in space. Oh, man. And tough, fighting women in bikinis? Honestly, you need my help on this one? Want to mix it up, maybe a male, kick-boxing assassin in G-string. Or, maybe not.

"A detective finds a promoter hiding out with the sister of a slain actress client."
"An amnesiac becomes suspicious of her husband's true identity."
"An insanely jealous woman wants to prevent her brother-in-law, a widower, from marrying another woman."

I like that last one. What if it turns out the sister is the one who killed the first wife, and the bride-to-be is the one who has to figure this one out?

So, yeah. Sometimes I'm out of ideas. Sometimes I want a break from my ideas. Sometimes I want a challenge. And when that happens, I turn on the TV.


Sean Patrick Reardon said...

I agree with you and sometimes the little blurb on the guide is how I will give a movie a chance. It is also helpful when trying come up with an elevator pitch for something your writing.

Sabrina E. Ogden said...

All I know is if writers run out of ideas then I've got nothin' for my blog. So if the tv guide is going to help then go for it...but, the mail kick boxer in the g-string thing left me feeling a little nauseas. I could seriously live without that one.

I'm personaly working on a short story from my first experience at an adult store...isn't it amazing where a story can from? I'm totally kidding here...kind of.

Chris Rhatigan said...

Good idea, Steve. Too frequently I let quality raw material pass me by.

pattinase (abbott) said...

THE TRIGGERING TOWN was a great book I'd forgotten about. I don't usually lack for ideas, it's endings I need. I wonder if THE GUIDE could provide me with the endings to some of those shows.