Monday, October 25, 2010

Everybody Loves a Story

In honor of the season of things that go bump in the night, I thought I would share this video. The guy is promoting his production company, but in the meantime, he's asking the question--Is this a time traveler? The video was shot in the 1920's, but he's sure that there's someone who gets caught in the shot-- talking on a cell phone!

The fact that this video has almost a quarter million views after just 5 days proves that we are all hungry for a story.

What kind of story does this inspire for you?
  • Time Travel?
  • Hoax?
  • A commentary on the prevalence of cell phones in modern society (would viewing this footage 20 years ago had even caused a second glance?)
That's the great thing about writing. You can take a mystery on and try and to solve it. You can take a common day and turn it into an adventure on the page. And, like the guy who posted this video, you can take something that has been overlooked for years and turn it into a main attraction.

Besides a fun little break, I believe this has a few lessons for writers:
  1. Always ask, "What If?" This guy sees a common pose we see these days in a video from almost one hundred years ago and asks, "What if that is a cell phone? What does that mean?" In your stories, you can put your characters into situations that may be off the beaten path by asking "What if?". The road they take may surprise you, and it keeps the story moving forward.
  2. Your personality is part of your Platform. George Clarke took his interest in Charlie Chaplin and turned it into something he could share with other movie-making enthusiasts, as well as those interested in time travel (or those who love disproving such ideas). There's probably more people who are just curious clicking on this video, but there's also the chance he could generate some business for his company. Sharing his wild ideas and his love for old movies could turn into a few leads. Writers busy building their online platforms can share stories related to their main characters, or to the types of stories they are writing. Writers build and become part of a community based on similar interests, and members of the community are more likely to remember them when looking for certain information or stories either for themselves or for people in their lives who may be interested.
  3. Don't take yourself too seriously. Surely, George is prepared to be called crazy or a sell-out or a prankster by sharing this information. Writers have to deal with the similar reactions to their work. If you have an off the wall idea you believe in, let yourself tell the story. If you write fiction for fun, and decide try your hand at the popular genre of the day-- let yourself have fun with it, don't worry about what it means for everyone else if that is what you feel like writing. Creativity comes from all sorts of places, from the common to the off the wall. Use it all.
I originally intended just to throw this video up on my blog for fun, and to ask my readers to comment with a short story about what the "cell phone caller" was up to that day. So, if you have a story about this video, go ahead and post it. Or, if you have thoughts about coming up with crazy ideas from videos or pictures, I'd love to hear about that as well.

Some Time Travel Links:
It's the 25th anniversary of Back to The Future
Book Review: Time and Again by Jack Finney
Using Time Travel in your Writing:
A Guide

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