Thursday, October 14, 2010

October Scary Story progress...

I finished my October Scary Story today. It was quite an accomplishment, believe you me, and I had a sense of closure and pride and finality when I scrawled those beautiful words "The End" at the bottom of the page.

Oh, perhaps I should clarify. What I finished today was my October Scary Story Event entry . . . for 2006. Yep, this is the OSSE I started four years ago, back when I used to do it with my buddy Jeff, and never finished it. Sadly, because of that and other factors, we never did a OSSE again (neither of us fulfilling our goal sort of broke our hearts a little). I started a completely different story early on in the month, I recall, one that took place in something like 1951. And in doing research about the music and movies that were popular in that year, I realized that that particular story was going to end up being pretty long, and a lot more work than I expected I could do in a couple of weeks (since I also had a one hour forty minute commute and a full-time job).

So I struggled to come up with another idea, something shorter, easier, more manageable. What I decided upon was a sort of mad scientist idea, about a chemist who reopens a small town movie theater, and puts something in the popcorn that manipulates the filmgoers. I called it "Popcorn Movie," and was very excited about it. I invented a nephew to the mad scientist, a loser who had moved out to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams of playing in a Rock band, only to have to come slinking back with his pockets empty and his tail between his legs.

Yes, hard to imagine a character like that, isn't it?

But as I developed the story, I started to really enjoy Don, the nephew character, and I felt for him. He'd gotten mixed up in drugs and had really ruined his life, but his uncle gives him a second chance, a chance to be a part of something that seems quite magical (at least in the beginning). I decided to give him a love interest, and almost immediately, he became the main character of the story, at first amused and then suspicious about the behavior of the "regulars" who keep attending the theatre.

But then it happened, what always seems to happen with the stories I get excited about: it started to grow. I decided that what I REALLY wanted to write about was not about a amoral chemist messing with peoples' minds, but about a loser who, in his darkest moment, joins a winning team, and sees his life turn around. I loved the idea of this kid finding his dreams coming true in some po-dunk hillbilly burg, only to realize that there's a sinister reason behind it all. Does he choose to do the right thing, even if it means giving up the first success he's been a part of in years?

Well, if you know me at all, you know that faced with such a daunting task, I just threw my arms up and ran in the other direction. Fetal position is just so warm and comfortable, kids.

The story was spiraling out of control, and though I abandoned it, I never really forgot it. Earlier this year, I printed out some of my works-in-progress and carried them around with me, managing to finish two or three of them before getting to this one. "Popcorn Movies" was harder, because I didn't know what it wanted to be, except that it was no longer a scary story. But I read through what I'd written, really liked it, and continued on from there, hoping that the new two-thirds would match up with the old third.

I finished it up, happy I'd written down so many of my ideas back in '06, and thought it turned out pretty well, even if I'll never give it to Jeff or show it to anyone else. Still sitting there, I had about ten minutes of free time left after writing "The End," and to my surprise, I just started another story right up, practically free-writing with no real clue where I was going. It was my OSSE 2010 coming to a sort of pathetic life in front of my eyes. And you know, I'll actually agree with that bastard Dean Wesley Smith for once: it totally wasn't work.

Rish "Master Scribe" Outfield

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