Striving for the absolute worstPosted: August 7, 2011
I’m a solitary creature. That nature is especially pronounced when it comes to the creative process. When I was a kid, I used to lock myself in my room and draw for hours. I didn’t emerge until my little comic book was done.
Years later, I was the principal songwriter in one of my bands. I rarely collaborated with the rest of the guys. We didn’t have productive jam sessions, for the most part. I would hand them complete demos that I recorded in my bedroom: vocals, guitar, bass, drums, explosions, etc. My friend Chad and I co-wrote a handful of songs together, but those partnerships were infrequent and the end product was usually very silly. Anyone who ever had the (mis)fortune to hear our magnus opus “Rock Woman, Send Me to Hell Tonight” can vouch for that. It was the first and only time I alternated between soothing falsetto harmonies and death metal growls within the same tune. It was an artistic triumph heard by hundreds, enjoyed by dozens, and remembered by a handful.
My hermitdom also extends to my writing. Of course, no one needs to assist me with this dumb blog. I can embarrass myself all by my lonesome, thank you very much. My war journal (which I will eventually get around to rewriting one day) is a solitary pursuit, save the invaluable critiques I got from those who read my first draft. And I have a few fictional pieces that are range from outlines to completed first drafts, but I’m not sure when I’ll unleash those projects. I imagine most of them will stay confined to my hard drive.
But I do have one story that has some promise. While I was in Iraq, I had everything plotted out save the ending…which is an unforgivable concept when it comes to storytelling. I sat down and occasionally flipped through a stack of index cards chockfull of plot points, but I couldn’t come up with a conclusion that satisfied me. So I mothballed the whole concept.
A recent conversation with one of my friends rekindled my interest in that story. To protect his anonymity, I’ll dub him Fancypants because he usually wears a three piece suit to work, and this moniker will assuredly annoy him. And nothing pleases me more than an opportunity to aggravate or horrify Fancypants. And he rarely reads my blog anyway, so we’ll see if he’s paying attention. Fancypants, Fancypants, Fancypants. There.
ANYWAY, Fancypants and I are lifelong friends, and we are world class cutups whenever we’re together. Our friends always told us that we should team up on a project, but life just kept getting in the way. And then there were times that I’d try to light a fire under Fancypants’ butt, which would inspire him towards forming a tag team of literary awfulness. But he would just tell me to put the blowtorch away. Then he would beat me upside the head, neck, shoulders for brandishing an open flame so close to his nether regions. That Fancypants can be downright ornery.
ANYWAY, back to last month’s tête-à-tête with Fancypants. As usual, our conversation quickly deteriorated to an exchange of heinous barbs and insults, most of which are unfit for publication. But this time, Fancypants said, “Why don’t we write some of this stuff down instead of wasting it on each other?”
“Well, what do you have in mind, Fancypants? I’ve been trying to join forces with you for ages now.”
“I dunno. Something. Anything. We have friends in Hollywood. Let’s write a screenplay together.”
“Sounds like a great idea,” I said. “Now, we clearly don’t want to write anything serious or dramatic. Do you have any suggestions for a topic?”
“Naw, man,” he sighed. “I come up with some crazy stuff, but I can’t be bothered with structure. You can do that.”
“Got it. I’m the brains and the looks of this operation. You’re the wild card. Never forget that. And I think I have a story idea that we can play with. Let me email it to you. You tell me what you think.”
And I did just that. I fired off a 3 page outline that night. Fancypants was excited about the storyline (good) and he told me that he already had some ideas (even better). We spent a couple of days hanging out shortly thereafter. The first thing we did was construct an utterly ridiculous ending that made us howl with laughter. Once we knew how this tale would conclude, we sketched out characters and plot points on dozens of index cards. Then I went home, sifted through those notes, and sent him a 13 page synopsis of the plot, the major characters, and some snippets of dialogue that we’ve already composed.
Then Fancypants called me. “Okay, everything looks cool. I’m inspired, and I’m still laughing,” he said. “What do we do now?”
“It’s time to write for us to start writing a screenplay. But let’s never lose sight of our intention – to tell the funniest, sickest story we can imagine. We’re striving for the absolute worst here. Never forget that.”
“Yeah, whatever. Start writing.”
Then I called my Hollywood screenwriter friend for some additional input. He directed me towards some free Adobe software (as opposed to the $180 Final Draft program), and he gave me some advice. “Just get that first draft done. It will suck, but finish it. And then keep rewriting it until it doesn’t suck anymore. And DO NOT send it to me until it’s under 100 pages.”
So now it’s time to get cracking. I don’t want to spoil much, but it’s a zombie comedy.
And it may or may not have voodoo.
There will most certainly be plenty of chicks with guns.
Ahem. Babes with guns.
We’ll probably have gratuitous midget tossing.
And carnies. God, they’re creepy.
And if at all possible, the lead protagonist will be a baby monkey riding a pig.
Alright. Enough palaver. Time to write this thing.