Monday, February 15, 2010

A Story In A Flash

Had a fantastic experience yesterday. I spent the morning working on my work-in-progress manuscript. It’s a futuristic story that takes place in Northern California. I’m about 180 pages into what I believed would be a 300 page mms. After writing, I wandered to the beach (I’m still on Phuket, but only for another day) and began reading Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally. I came across a Talmud quote in the story. I breezed over the quote and read on, but something struck me. I hit rewind, re-read the quote and sat thinking about how it related to my own work. And in a flash, I realized what my work-in-progress story is about.

It’s funny that I could be two-thirds through a story and only now realize what the central theme is. I’m reminded of the old tale about five blindfolded men, each feeling a different part of an elephant and trying to determine what kind of animal it is. Well, the blindfold is finally off. And what I see is a much larger and complex story than I had originally grappled with, yet a much more satisfying one.

The cool part is, once I had that flash of inspiration, that knowledge of what it really is, I saw the new story unfold, much like a move, all the plot twist and reveals falling into place. Not the details, of course, but the general outline. It’s as if the story had been locked in my mind, already complete down to the last period, but I could not see it until that one key, the core theme, opened the door. And in my mind, the 300 page story jumped to 400, with some major re-writing going on up front.

Creativity is such a strange and wonderful thing.

On a different note, when I returned to my room and logoned on to the Internet, I saw an announcement of a new book by a writer not well known to me. The curious thing is, the title of the book is: Breakfast At Tiffany’s . I thought, ok, what’s your next book title, War and Peace? Gone With The Wind? Star Wars? Then I wondered, if a writer is not creative enough to come up with an original title, why would anybody bother to read their work? Am I being a snob? Perhaps. But stealing such a well known title rubs me the wrong way.

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