Take It Out Back & Have It Shot

by Buzz on 24/09/2012

some ideas die a’borning
some are terminated
others still get terminated
With Extreme Prejudice

had an idea a few weeks back

a mash-up of a couple of different genres & tropes

nothing wrong with that

lotsa folks do it

there ain’t an original idea out there [1]

but as I was turning the parts around
seeing how this one fit with that one
suddenly the proverbial nickel dropped

I realized this was The Exact Same Story
as a favorite episode of a popular TV show

now, lemme ‘splain the difference betwixt




an idea is the basic concept

f’r instance, I find myself returning
again and again to the idea of
The Innocent Falsely Accused

I’ve done several stories based on that

but I have not done
The Pompous Martinet Naval Captain
Who Is Falsely Accused By His Crew

that’s a situation, not just an idea

it’s possible to turn that basic idea
into two different stories [2]

it’s possible to take the exact same situation
with the exact same characters and turn out not one,
not two but three or more fresh interpretations [3]

but a paranoid ball-bearing rattlin’ strawberry obsessed naval captain who gets set up by a wannabee novelist cum pop psychologist who manipulates other less well trained officers into mutiny?

Gotta be The Caine Mutiny

you can change the war, change the ship
even change the broad strokes of the characters
but you can’t hide the original

back to my now terminated idea

as I said, it wasn’t fresh, it was a mash-up
but as I was mulling it over
what finally leapt out at me
was how it did not significantly differ
from this other idea on this TV show

oh, the characters were mine

didn’t have the same job titles as the show

but still, what I was writing was the equivalent of the obsessive compulsive worry-bead carrying lemon-fixated general who is lured into a compromising position by a philosopher-poet who turned his illiterate troops against him

now that story might be fun if
every element sprang organically
from the core idea

but that’s not how this now DOA idea presented itself

it came about as a very deliberate cobbling together

one from Column A
one from Column B

and while it might be fun to do a story
using the broadstrokes of the basic idea

this one is so much like its template
I can no longer see my story but rather
only the original story underneath

so it’s gone

cuta chogi
hasta la bye-bye

don’t let the screendoor
hit you on your way out

other writers might muscle through and
complete the story and put it out on the market [4]
but I can’t

I won’t

I’m not wired that way




[1]  Is there, Big Steve King?

[2]  Mutiny On The Bounty vs. The Caine Mutiny

[3]  Mutinies On The Bounty 1935, 1962, & 1984

[4]  Hello again, Big Steve King!


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