Personally, I’ve not written much fiction. Scares me. Confessional poetry is more my game. Came to it because it seemed pretty accessible. How hard could it be to just tell my own stories, toss in a coupla good metaphors, rhymes and rhythms and voila! Those were innocent days. But it always starts easy, doesn’t it? Or shouldn’t it? I mean if we understood at the beginning just how hard it is to make a poem work, or finish a novel, or write a column or an essay, or raise a baby or keep a house, who’d do it? Fools rush in.
But I’ve been thinking about fiction, god help me. Not surprising, of course, since I frequent writers’ events and those bars, boys and girls, are crawling with novelists. Something is bound to rub off.
What worries me most is the matter of plot. Words aren’t that hard. Sentences are a challenge but I have a sense how to ride ’em and break ’em. But plot is a morass of dead ends and quicksand, squalls and deserts, pitfalls and pratfalls.
Many a purveyor of fiction will reveal that news stories often inspire plots. Shakespeare stole his. There’s history. There’s the bible. But perhaps the motherlode of plot inspiration is the quagmire of the law. Nothing oils up my plot making paraphernalia like trial transcripts and police blotters. This isn’t news, right? For any dedicated reader of fiction, it’s as obvious as the sound of traffic in the city, and as easy to ignore.
Want some writerly fun? Check out some news stories about legal cases and see if you can’t mine a few gems. Here are some recent quotes that have come my way, presented (as they should be for punking purposes) without context:
The police have not named any suspects in the case. In the meantime the rabbits will be taken to an undisclosed location.
“Illinois’ longest-serving inmate was pronounced dead in Chicago at 8:45 p.m. on Monday.”
It was a murder too horrible even for a maniac.
“The body was exhumed and cast into the sewers.”
The victim reported that the suspect threatened him with a large kitchen knife.
For a website to die for, check out: famous trials.
If that doesn’t give you some food for thought, punk, I’ll eat my beret with ink for sauce.
– Charles Kruger
The Storming Bohemian