Thursday, June 30, 2016

There Could Be a Story in Anything

The crows are out in full force this morning as I think about plot.

“How do you come up with story ideas?”

“I read a lot, and steal from others.”

“You don't just come up with them on your own?”

“Life is not lived in a vacuum. What I do is more remixing than creating. It's like hip hop.”

“How so?”

“Well, you're borrowing from other traditions. So you've got jazz, blues, maybe some Latin music, or stuff from West Africa or India. Take the bits that you like and make them into something different and hopefully exciting. It's the same thing with plot. I just finished reading a book that felt like someone combining elements of Kurt Vonnegut, Monty Python, and Voltaire... probably others as well.”

“And did it work?”

“Very much so. There's a certain school of thought that all the great stories have already been written. Even if you believe that, presenting them in a unique way can bring new life to them.”

“But you wouldn't know what to steal if you weren't constantly reading.”

“Exactly, that's the art. It's like a recipe. Maybe something calls for two parts Shakespeare, one part Hemingway, one part Toni Morrison. Well, you can't find Hemingway, so maybe you swap that out for Fitzgerald and make something new.”

“It might not taste like what you intended.”

“It could be worse, or it could be better. But you'll never know until you try.”

“That's an interesting outlook.”

“My job is to have an interesting outlook. Without that I'm nothing.”

“You were saying something about crows at the beginning?”

“They're very loud.”

“Could there be a story in that?”

“There could be a story in anything.”

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