Saturday, March 31, 2012

Same Game-Different Application

By Keith N Fisher

I sat on my front porch with my eyes closed the other day. I tried to imagine myself into another realm or fall asleep, whichever came first. The neighborhood little kids were playing some kind of war game. Maybe it was cops and robbers, I couldn’t tell for sure.

They pointed toy guns, or other facsimiles, and shouted, bang, bang, bang, at each other. I remembered when I was their age and playing make believe was my favorite game. We did it different, though. We made noises with our tongues. We thought it sounded like machine guns and we tried to imitate explosion sounds. We never shouted bang. That was amateur.

As I listened to World War Three in the neighborhood, I thought of the lyrics to a Rolling Stones song. I believe Keith Richards wrote it. As the story goes, a man watches children play in a park and ponders how much easier life had been, when he was younger. The third verse of, As Tears Go By, reads,

It is the evening of the day,
I sit and watch the children play.
Doing things I used to do,
They think are new.
I sit and watch as tears go by.

My childhood in the sixties was pretty carefree. Life was simple, yet hard in various ways. I learned to love make believe and I never shed that love. Now, instead of playing war games, western heroes, or pretending to be a super hero, I write about them.

I sat on my porch and reflected on the plotting problem I’m having with my latest work in progress. I’m writing a suspense story and I’m having problems keeping up the action. I like my character and I keep wanting to let her rest, but I have to take her from the skillet and drop her into the flames of the fire, then write her out of the flame before she gets too burned.

When we were kids, the action was intense. One of us would say, “Let's pretend that . . .” and another would add more. Before we knew it, the game had changed. We were running around trying to keep up with each other, still enjoying the game. I wish I could plot a book that fast. Writing is harder, because the new stuff has to fit the old stuff. I have to make it relevant. Perhaps I should pretend I’m a sleep on the front porch more often and let the kids plot my stories.

Good plotting is an art form, much like playing make believe. Try to imagine yourself in your story and let your mind wander. What are the possibilities? Don’t worry about relevance, just write it down, but hurry, because the next idea is on its way. Instead of playing let’s pretend, you will be playing what if. Your story will be better.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

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