Sunday, September 22, 2013

Idea Garage Sale: Spies?

So in the middle of the week I had a dream with a plot. Not the illusion of a plot, which is common in dreams. You wake up thinking you have a whole novel, but on reflection, when you try to lay it out for yourself, it's full of gaps and logic lapses and transitions that don't work, so all you're left with is a handful of images that haunt you, or don't. (That bit with the frog, the river, the library, and the pageboy, from college - it's still there and I still can't do anything with it.) But this one kept its shape when I reviewed it, consistent characters and situations and the whole nine yards.

This was probably, however, because it was a cliche. Its beats were set in a familiar rhythm; the shape of the story matched up exactly to thousands of short stories in hundreds of anthologies. Yes, the details were distinctive, as far as they went, but I knew I would never write it because the most it would ever be would be a well-crafted, workmanlike piece and though that's worth doing as a small part of an overarching career that requires steady output, I wouldn't enjoy writing it and I couldn't sell it in this market, not without putting a lot more charisma into it than I ever have. I don't suck but I don't dazzle and I don't have the energy necessary to sell a pedestrian short story. But I figured I'd use it for the garage sale, as that's part of what the garage sale is for.

But now I can't remember it. At all.

It was a mystery, but not a murder mystery and I don't think a theft. Maybe a spy story? Does anybody write spy short stories? (You know, I don't think they do. I don't think that's a genre at all. I wonder why not.) It was suspense of some kind, anyway. Was there a ghost? I don't think there was a ghost...

And the moral of that story is, write stuff down even when it's simple and clear and plain and cliched and you know you'll remember it.

Maybe it wasn't even suspense. Maybe I'm influenced by the misreading I also did during the week, when I was skimming movie descriptions and saw one in which the character finds work as an assassin in a department store and has an affair with her manager, which made me sit up and take notice. But of course it was "assistant," which is boring. An assassin in a department store is absurd, but at least it isn't boring. Maybe trained assassins are the next level of escalation in corporate espionage.

So the garage sale idea for today would be a short story about an assassin/spy in a department store, playing a high-stakes game among the escalators, between Lingerie and Housewares. There's a ringer in the Catalog Department, and the proof sheets in the photo studio's secret file drawer are too dangerous to see the light of day...

No comments:

Post a Comment