In a recent interview, Stephen King talks about how he develops novels. As he goes to sleep at night, he tells himself the story, getting a little farther each night. (I first heard and wrote about this approach when I was working on The Stephen King Illustrated Companion, in the section on The Green Mile.)
So I decided to give this a try last night. I’ve been thinking about a story lately, but I needed something to give it that final kick it needs before I can start. I knew the characters—very well, in fact, because I’ve written about them in three early tales. I knew the story’s gimmick (my particular approach to the anthology theme), but I didn’t know the context. So I lay there going over it in my mind. But the dogs next door kept barking. Not just barking—growling, as if they were facing down skunks or possums or something. I wanted them to shut up so I could concentrate. Except I started to imagine my main character lying in bed and hearing something similar. Given my take on the theme, it started to make sense. Something dropped into place and I knew where to start.
However, I didn’t start writing this morning. I had other matters to take care of first. I wrote my entry for my next Storytellers Unplugged essay instead, and I also wrote out the background for the story. I wrote down the biographies of the four characters who are important to this fictional universe, collating details from the earlier tales. One of these characters (always off-screen, but a major presence nonetheless) is now deceased, which is the reason why the characters are where they are for this story. I even came up with a title; however, that will only remain if the story ends up being about what I think it will be about and not something else. If all goes well, I should be ready to start writing next week. This weekend will be about proofreading and writing some book reviews.
I think I understand what Abi was trying to do at tribal council on Survivor. By cutting off Skupin and telling him how stupid he was, she was trying to make herself so hateful that the other players would want to take her to the end. I think she underestimated how someone might not think logically after that and decide to get rid of her rather than spend another few days with her. Even Denise, normally level-headed and calm, would rather have gone swimming in a school of great whites than spend the afternoon alone with Abi when the others were off enjoying pizza and swimming with whale sharks. I wonder if they ever figured out what kind of creature bit her.
The most interesting part of this week’s outcome is what happened at Ponderosa. Everyone else was civil and ready to bury the hatchet (not in Abi, mind you) except for RC. She took great pains to explain to Abi the reality of the carefully orchestrated misunderstanding about the immunity clue that set Abi off in the first place. RC firmly believes that everyone at Ponderosa would still be playing the game if not for that. She then forbade Abi from talking to her any more. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone hold a grudge like that before.
American Horror Story almost started making sense this week. With the introduction of Dylan McDermott’s character, the modern story is connecting with the past. There was a satisfying (if temporary) shift in the balance of power between Lana and Thredson (that name has to be an anagram, but the best I can come up with is Shred Not. Or Ed Thorns). The former Sister Jude did something we’ve all wanted to do since the beginning of the season. And then the ending arrived and all the logical explanations went south again. Not a complaint, mind you. The show is astonishing.
My favorite episodes of NCIS are the ones involving FBI agent Fornell. The convoluted past he has with Gibbs (they share an ex-wife) makes for some great banter. Throw said ex-wife into the episode and it’s pure gold, especially when she and McGee are discovered cuddled up on the couch. My favorite two lines from the episode both came from Fornell. First, upon running into Diane unexpectedly while investigating the attempt on his life, he says, ”That’s funny. She looks just like our ex-wife.” Then, while describing her to someone else, he says, ”Ever notice how she doesn’t get sick? Even germs don’t like her.” But then, to bring the whole thing full circle, comes the scene where Gibbs pretends to propose to her to get her away from a guy planning to kill her. Nice touch.
Last night’s episode of CSI reminds me a lot of a recent episode of Elementary. In both cases, someone used a private charter plane as a murder weapon. Different motives, though.