Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Brief Look Inside My Twisted Mind



I recently got what I think -- hope? -- is a really cool idea for a story.

I must "confess" to having several writing influences. Some of them -- most of them, truth be told -- go back pretty far, both in terms of the authors' eras and in terms of how young I was when these gents became my influences. Today's post concerns four of them: Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville (actually, less Melville himself and more his most famous novel, Moby-Dick), and last but not least, Herman Raucher, who wrote Summer of '42.

Let's concentrate on Summer of '42 for a bit. The book and the movie, both written by Raucher -- although the movie screenplay was written first -- concern three adolescent boys in their mid-teens. The boys are Benjie, Oscy, and the narrator, Hermie, who call themselves "The Terrible Trio" as they scamper around Nantucket Island during -- you guessed it -- the summer of 1942. All of them are as obsessed with sex as the average male of fourteen or fifteen, and the story focuses on this fact.

he joked about how the first edition of the novel sported
a cover illustration in which the artist drew a TV antenna
on the roof of a 1942 home! A great anecdote, sure...
but it looks more like a weathervane to me!

Anyway, in the early 1970s, when the novel and film were released, I was that age, albeit roughly thirty years later than the year in which the Terrible Trio's story occurred, and some publicity about the film -- which I didn't get to see until many years later -- sent me in search of the novel.

(By the way, need I add that I, too, was obsessed by sex at that age? Probably not. In fact, at 52, I still wonder if I'll ever outgrow that. But I obsess... I mean, I digress.)

Raucher was incredibly entertaining. Not only was the book told from Hermie's point of view, but we were also allowed inside his head for constant smartass comments on the events he was relating. I readily admit that I often do the same thing in my own work, and that's where it started.

Now here's my weird idea:

Instead of Hermie, Oscy, and Benjie, how about a "Terrible Trio" made up of Hermie, Charlie, and Eddie?

As in "Hermie" Melville, "Charlie" Dickens, and "Eddie" Poe.

Picture them as 18th-century post-adolescents scampering about on Nantucket Island. After all, Melville was indeed involved with the whaling community, and Nantucket, Massachusetts, was as tied up with whaling as was New Bedford, Massachusetts, where the story of Moby-Dick began.

This would obviously be a sure test of my readers' willing suspension of disbelief. The main things that I'd stick to from fact would be the characters' ages, and what I perceive as their basic personalities. Anything else... not so much.

The beauty of it, of course, is that all three men were alive at roughly the same time. I've decided to focus on one particular summer, the one in which morbid "Eddie" Poe was 33, serious-minded social activist "Charlie" Dickens was 30, and the young, adventurous, and impressionable "Hermie" Melville turned 23.

And exactly which summer was that? Oh, you're ahead of me here?

Yep, it was the summer of '42.



1842.


Now, all I need is the time to devote to writing this sucker. Wish me luck.

And thanks for your time.

12 comments:

  1. SF: I read many books at a time and keep them straight but your literal mult-tasking experiment is something I look forward to reading...take all the time you need to get into character. Sheesh, I can imagine a lot of things but that task is for the pros.

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  2. Well, sometimes I have four... or five... or a hundred... ideas going on at once. You should see my Blogger "drafts" list, which is there mainly so I won't forget story ideas. Usually I tell people e what's coming up somewhat ahead of time, which gives me a better chance of actually finishing a project once I've begun it. If that makes any sense...

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  3. I love this idea!! Isn't it amazing how, sometimes, all the thoughts you got in your head fall into place? Like putting the last piece of the puzzle where it belongs and the most wonderful picture reveals itself :)

    Well I love Poe and got "Moby Dick" under my desk, on a pile of books-to read-during the summer! I know which book I'm reading first now :)

    CU Sunday ;)
    Take care
    xoxo

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  4. I love this idea! Now, what I need to know is, who is the female focus of their attentions?--If it's Summer of 1842? Georgie Eliot?Ellisa Bell?

    Kat

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  5. Whoa. Two comments, posted two minutes apart, both starting with "I love this idea!"

    As SCTV's Count Floyd used to say, "Scary, kids!"

    And as far as the object of Hermie's affections... Well, I have to keep some secrets until I post the story, right?

    I need to sleep. It's almost 6 a.m. here!

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  6. Hi there Fox,
    Thanks for visiting my blog (Dog Girl).
    Gee, you sure are one handsome dude. Your photo looks a lot like one of my fav movies stars...
    hmmmmmm.

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  7. A movie star? Yeah, I get that a lot. *ahem*

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  8. great idea for a story...look forward to seeing it play out. enjoy the rest as this journey seems to be one that will fun.

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  9. S.F., brilliant concept! You must delve into this...

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  10. I'd totally read it. Get going!!!!

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  11. Sounds like a great story, David - someday you might even get to sell the movie rights on that one. :-)

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  12. Did you ever write it? I must know.

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