Publishing & Graphics

Speaking My Mind

Why do I write?

Posted by Doug Jeffreys on February 3, 2012 at 11:35 PM

I thought this would be an easy answer but I had to really think about it. I suppose it started when I was about twelve. I would draw may own Super Heroes and of course, once drawn, I needed stories for them, so I started making my own comic books. The art was lame. The writing, even worse. The tales of Archie, Veronica and friends were stories of Shakespearean complexity compared to my pathetic scribbling. Quite frankly I was far more interested in drawing at that time. Thus my scripts were of the most rudimentary sort; Hero sees criminals involved in felonious activity, hero beats up criminals, hero flies off into the sunset.

It wasn’t until my junior year of high school, in my Creative Writing class that I realized I actually enjoyed creating a written tale. I wrote a short, pulp style detective story that earned me a B+. I gave it to my friend’s girlfriend to type it for me so I could submit it to a magazine. Unfortunately for me (and fortunately for the literary world) she lost it. However, it was too late for the publishing industry, the seed had been planted. I continued to work on my comics, producing tales just slightly more complex than a classified ad for a garage sale. I was a voracious reader throughout my years in secondary school, starting of course, with the pulp serials of Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Norman, etc. I still love the “Sword & Sorcery” genre but my tastes began to mature and I began to explore such authors as Eric Van Lustbader, Tom Clancy, Michael Crighton, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and other authors that put actual science into their science fiction and/or techno-thrillers.

This had two very profound effects on me. First: My selection of literary material was greatly expanded. Second: I began to look for logical reasoning and realistic science in everything I read, as well as the television shows I watched, and the movies I saw. I’m sure you can see the problem. Most shows, movies and books don’t give a rat’s patoot about such mundane matters such as logic, common sense and the laws of physics. Most writers used a very popular method to move the plot along. Something I first heard described by Roger Ebert way back when he and Gene Siskel hosted their own show (where they would critique the latest films). I don’t remember the film but I clearly recall Roger refer to “The Rule of Idiots”, i.e. if it wasn’t for the idiots, you wouldn’t have a story. I saw this rule used time and again in books, television and movies and it would drive me crazy! It’s pure laziness on the part of the writer. Either that or all the screen writers and hack authors actually are that stupid (or they think we are)!

More times than I can recall, I would put down the book or leave the theater thinking, “Even I could write a better story than that.” I found myself critiquing the science and logic of every manner of story whether it was the big screen, the small screen or the printed page. Perhaps this is why I still enjoy the old pulps. As they dealt mainly with magic and the super-natural, which is by its very definition, beyond the laws of nature. Thus you have quite a bit more leeway in plot devices.

Being a great fan of all things (zombie and/or apocalyptic) it pains me somewhat to point out that the godfather of zombie movies himself, the legendary George A. Romero, is guilty of relying heavily on the rule of idiots. I found Tom Savini’s re-make of “Night of the Living Dead” to be a vast improvement over the original. Although to give Mr. Romero his due I believe he was more concerned with the underlying political/social message of his stories as opposed to the science. It was my hatred for the near epidemic use of the “Rule of Idiots” that spurred me to write. I’ve always felt that rather than use idiots to move the plot along or provide a challenge for the protagonist, simply provide a smarter/faster/stronger monster/enemy/antagonist.

Whereas I have had the germ of an idea for this story incubating in my mind for a very long time. I have found my attempts at actually writing a better story embarrassingly slow. Who knew that turning an idea into a cognizant, well-structured tale would be so difficult? Certainly not I. I have done considerable research in a number of complex medical, technical and scientific fields as best I could with a layman’s knowledge and near zero funds and believe I have delivered a scientifically plausible story.

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