Writers all have flashes of brilliance — the witty dialog, the wacky character, the amazing mise en scene that solves the problem of 35 pages earlier — that fill us with excitement and generally make our lives worth living.
But few of these abstractions will make it into print. Because most of them can’t be fitted into a story, or they just plain suck. Like your children, some ideas appear to be the brightest, smartest, most brilliant young things when they’re new. Then they grow up, start stealing cars, and suddenly you’re spending your weekends upstate.
Oh, they seemed-oh-so-clever at the time, but now it’s painfully obvious they are silly, ridiculous crap. I mean, how are you going to write a story about a castle made out of Big Macs, unless Ronald McDonald is narrating? (Hmmm. Come to think of it…)
Another bad idea
I’ve had more than my share of dogs over the years. Some were conceived many years ago; others, in the last 15 minutes. These brainstorms have one thing in common: they are so idiotic that I’m exposing them to the light of day, so I may exorcise myself of them, and do something that every writer dreads, which is allow somebody to steal them.
Take them. Please.
BOOKFRAUD’S BIG, BAD, ROTTEN IDEAS
Neo-Nazis who have full facial hair except under the nose, where a “Hitler moustache” would be: It was to be a story about a bunch of facists who run a diner, and who hire 7-foot tall uber-menches to stage a putsch against the Detroit city council. They would identify each other not by a password or secret handshake, but by their facial hair.
Also, they served meat cookies in the diner, and did not allow themselves to scratch themselves even when they itched, as a sign of discipline.
The Yarmulke Jockeys: The name of a Jewish reggae band, which actually made it into a story that got published. Still, it makes me cringe — a classic case of being too clever by half. It is kinda funny, I guess. You can steal this one, but I’ll sue the shit out of you.
In a dream sequence, the protagnoist dreams he is working on an assembly line, wiping dogs’ asses as they pass him: I wrote a terrifically bad novel when I was in my early 20s, which included this scene. Can’t say what I was thinking, except I thought it an amazing sequence. One of the canines, a bulldog, starts talking to the protagonist and flexes his front leg/bicep, like Arnold Schwartzenegger.
Except he speaks with a southern accent and talks about how Japan is taking over the world. Your typical day at the office.
Bookfraud’s idée fixe
“Beware of Pretty Hair”
“She Looked Like G. Gordon Liddy”
“Carmen the Vibrator” :
Funny (or not so funny) titles! No story to go with them!
“I try to avoid mustard these days.”
“I’m not one of those Hannibal Lecter wackos who teases the police about who he ate.”
“Can’t you see I’m making beer right now?”:
Not necessarily bad, but a clear case of the “dialog tail” wagging the “plot dog.” I’ve got lots more of these gems lying around, rotting. Notice that all of the above are about food, more or less. And that leads to…
A BBQ joint named “It Tastes Like Chicken”: If you think this is a laff riot, as I once did years ago, it’s all yours. I must have been high when I wrote it. Speaking of which…
Two stoners getting married who register at a headshop: Humorous, I guess. But it’s hard to fashion a story around a joke. I just said no.
“At the end of ‘LF,’” I wrote on a slip of paper, “make it clear that Chris gets a lobotomy”: I have no clue what that means. I don’t know what “LF” means, or who Chris is. Though it has the whiff of easy closure — a hospital version of “and he shot everyone and everybody died. The end.”
Wait a minute! Now I remember! “LF” stood for “Lingua Franca”! It was about a hospital built like the Tower of Babel, with different languages spoken on each floor, and it had 500 elevators and 1,000,000 patients and like 3,000,000 doctors and nurses, and somebody swimming in a sea of milk at the end and television sending subliminal messages, and, and…ah, just fuck it.
“Man Has Sex With City Street!”: I wrote this down immediately after shagging the corner of Park Ave. and 81st St.
Try not to think about it
The Golf Novel: This may or may not be a good concept for a novel, but I’m never going to write it. The novel would be about a foursome playing a round of golf, each hole being a chapter.
The first chapters would start simply, with the language becoming more complex with each hole. By the ninth hole, it’s in stream-of-conciousness; for the last nine holes (“The Turn,” it would say on a page divider), the language does the reverse. And the score each player gets on a hole is indictative of his or her moral/intellectual standing on whatever it is they are talking about.
I have started this novel approximately 1,325.48 times. If you want it, it’s yours, but just mention my name in the credits, please.
Tune next time to see what happens when a pathetic, shriveled, limp idea (not listed above) gets turned into a blog entry! Don’t miss it!