Wednesday, September 3, 2008


The gang was trekking to Alaska.

Well, it was not really a gang, rather a gang of something, a gang of superiors, a gang of spirituals, a gang of the eclectic searching for experience.  They all wore backpacks, except for Lucy who wore a crocodile purse, and in them they carried tools.  Benjamin a hammer for the way he liked to make squirrel stew, Micah his mother's face on a coaster she had made, Gabe a recorder to summon the blessings of heaven.  Marge carried used loose-leaf because she could only brew her words on scrap paper, and Clint carried an old baseball from the days of his father.  Lucy carried weapons--a shark's tooth, a switchblade, a rifle.  The others whispered about broken glass and how the bag was a real crocodile in disguise.  They were all seeking souls, seeking fulfillment of a life, as they would find, that only allowed them to carry the selected necessities.  Of course, the necessities they carried now would change over time.

I really want to develop this.  I see Lucy here as a great character.  There are so many things left unspoken for in this blurb--what more about Micah?  Gabe's name connection?  Why the weapons?  Why the scrap paper (thanks Peggy)?  How admiring was Clint really of his father?  These things are all tools, but tools for what exactly?  And what are they really seeking?  A new beginning, perhaps.  And all because the instructions told me to write for ten minutes, mimicking Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried."  



Anonymous said...

You want to develop it? I say yes! Ok, so what do we know? We know they are searching for experience. They are on an adventure. They all have something special (tools).

So now, I ask you questions, and you get to answer them, because you are the writer after all. Are these items (tools) going to help them find experience? Or do they need to get rid of these tools in order to find experience?

You ask the question, "How admiring was Clint really of his father?" Does this mean that Clint might not have admired his father that much? Does this mean that Clint is symbolically hiding behind the baseball (or a glorified idea of his father)? Is the baseball (as a symbol of Clint's father) holding Clint back from really experiencing life? Does he need to get rid of the baseball (and thus his father) in order to experience things?

On the other hand, Gabe has a recorder. Does he need that recorder for experience? How does that recorder help find experience or shape his experience? It's funny that Gabe (like the angel Gabriel) has the music-making tool. Do I sense a Christ-like figure coming on?

I agree with you about Lucy. She is carrying a purse (suggesting feminine qualities) yet she has some intense weapons (masculine qualities). Why does she need weapons? What happened to her that she needs a switchblade and rifle? Is she an angry person? Is she defensive? Does she defend her friends, or does she hang them out to dry in order to fend for herself?

Benjamin carries a hammer for squirrel stew. That seems interesting. Is the hammer to kill the squirrels with? Why would he not just use a shotgun like our good fried Jesse? Why would he want to beat the squirrel to death? Is he angry? Would this anger hold him back from finding experience, or should he let it all go in order to find experience?

Will one of these characters never gain experience? Will one of these characters vices or tools prevent them from ever growing?

And a "gang of superiors". Superior to what, or to whom? "A gang of spirituals." Is there a religious theme you want to keep up? Also, "a gang of the eclectic". How interesting is this? They are all different. Do they get along despite their differences? They may seem eclectic, but they are all looking for experience, so how different are they really? Are they all tied by a common bond? They may all have their own set of issues and their own tools, but what is tying them together? What about love? Are these guys friends? Do they know each other at all?

What is the truth you want to express through this story, through these characters? Maybe if you spend more time with them, you will figure it out.

What you have here is a mystery. You created the bare basics of six characters. You created the bare basics of a scene. Now you get to run wild. Listen to the characters and the qualities you gave them. Listen to the scenery you placed them in. You'll solve the mystery. You are the writer.

GINAR said...

he killed his father with that damn baseball

Candace said...

i knew you were mimicking the things they carried right when i started reading it and i was like AWESOME! don't you love making lists in writing, both in prose and poetry? and you do it really well, too. there is so much character development already and so far that you can go with this. so many different paths, but still a roadmap for each character.

i forget that you are such a great writer.

Anonymous said...

I love it.

Emily said...

Oh yeah, I totally jumped from my seat, pointed my fingers bro-style at the screen and hollered, "THE THINGS THEY CARRIED" even though I only ever read chapter one of that book.

I love the loose-leaf bit. I get it. Like loose leaf tea. Kaitlin, write your freakin' book already and send me an autographed copy. You are destined for awesomeness.