Thursday, March 12, 2009

My new idea

I haven't been truly excited about a story idea in a long time. Several weeks ago I was running through my list of current story ideas, trying to pick which one I wanted to work most once I was completely finished with Not Dead Yet. They were all okay ideas as ideas go, but none of them was dying to be written.

I had decided on one idea, but I was having trouble putting it together. It was a whole daughter searches for her father while being chased by bad guys thing, but I just had too many holes. Every time I solved a story problem I created a cliche problem.

Then I went to a meeting at work where we practiced creative writing. Of course I was a big show-off who earned lots of praise with her story about all the times I have been brave and stupid. It was like Oh no don't make me have to earn $25 an hour writing short stories! Nooooooo!

Most teachers are more literature focused than writing. I was amazed at how many teachers thought good writing = a shitload of adjectives.

Anyway, this one teacher wrote about her love of martial arts. She had taken six years of an obscure martial art that has a really cool origin story. I had forgotten about that story, but had always planned to do something with it some day. It's on a index card on my bulletin board, so you know it's serious.

So I went up to her and asked some questions about it, and then I told her I'd been working on a story about the origin and she got all huffy and said "I'm working about a book with that story," and I said not to worry because I was planning to take so much poetic license they wouldn't be remotely the same. And even if I do steal her story, she's totally fat now so I can just run from her before she Karate chops my ass.

Anyway, I started thinking more and more about this idea, and the main problem is that no matter how I worked it, it always became a Karate Kid movie. So I just kept thinking and thinking and I thought about the movies I love the most, particularly martial arts movies, and I analyzed the elements in them that work. And then it hit me.

I can't really say exactly what hit me because when it did, oh man is it awesome. Not only is it something I will have an absolute blast writing, but it's something nobody has ever done. Ever. It's not a super commercial film, but it ain't no autistic grandma living in the basement movie either.

You know an idea's good when you don't have to work at it. The zombie story was the most fun thing to write ever because I didn't have to think too much. I had a group of people that needed to cross the country to get to another group of people. They're going to need to stop for gas - fight scene. They're going to need to go over some dangerous terrain - fight scene. I didn't have to stop and force a fight scene where it didn't belong.

That's what I used to do when I first started. I'd go along with my story and realized nobody had fought for a while, so I planted a fight scene in the middle of nothing. But a good fight scene, just like a good sex scene, comes out of and serves the story. Even in a martial arts film.

And that's when I knew I loved my new story. As soon as I figured out the basic plot, I immediately saw all the fight scenes because they were necessary. Well of course if my protagonist breaks into this place, the antagonist is going to have to fight her. And that will cause her to do this other thing the next day, which will lead to this next thing he'll have to do, etc. The story writes itself.

So for the first time since I started writing about zombies, I'm excited. Now comes research. First research assignment - watch all the Once Upon a Time in Chinas. Second research assignment - take a martial arts class.

Being a writer is so hard.


  1. Cool!

    More good news for the secret tattoo group.

    - Bill

  2. I just saw 'Chocolate' about a mute Thai/Japanese girl who's so good at it, she takes out gangsters and a mobster. check it out for inspiration, i guess.

    I feel inspired and refreshed after reading 'Inglourious Basterds' last week, Tarantino always assures me it's OK to write fucked up, crazy shit.

  3. Anonymous3:52 AM

    combine some of your daughter gets taken by bad guys elements from the other idea and then you're really cooking with Mazola

  4. I think a fat karate kid story would be HILARIOUS, personally.

  5. Anonymous8:05 AM

    "and then it hit me"

    I live for that ^ moment.

    Good Luck!


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