Sunday, April 1, 2012

From little things big things grow

Stories can spring from the tiniest seeds.

I found a Flash that grew out of a writer's response to a scene in a James Bond movie - 'Thunderball'

A writer was so touched by this character she went on to write a flash about him. Ode to the Double Crossed Lackey in Thunderball

A pilot working for the bad guys makes a delivery in a sea plane. His welcoming party slash his breathing pipe and leave him to drown.

His death is cruel and terrible. You watch the poor bastard yank desperately on his harness, then reach out to the swimmers near him, begging for help. But they  ignore him and keep going about their job. Totally unfazed about the fact a man is drowning right next to them. 

When I read this flash I was taken back to the moment years ago when I watched this scene on the big screen. 

The writer mined her feelings and wrote out some of the questions and feelings that came up for her.  And the Flash is basically just that - the writer's response to a character in a movie scene. 

For me, the best part of the flash story is the memory of the pilot as a child, happy with his sister. It's the knowledge about his sister that gives real pathos to his death scene in the film. 

I love the idea of one small moment that grows into a story. We have such powerful responses to the world around us. But most of the time we don't sit still and go deep into it. Especially the painful stuff.

This is why writing can be great therapy. Because writing forces you to try and understand. You have to keep drilling into stuff.

One of my great weaknesses is that I don't sit long enough with a writing idea. I need to be patient, keep asking questions, keep sifting, keep mining below for the good stuff.

Next time I have a powerful response to a small moment in a movie, a book - a real life stranger, I'll start writing out the questions that come into my head.