Monday, May 18, 2009

DISCUSSION TOPIC: The Planet of the..WHAT!?

Do any of you people who are writers or some other kind of creative-type person remember (or even harbor) any old ideas for projects that you had earlier in your life, or even as a little kid, that now seem so dumb and embarrassing that you can hardly stand to even think about them...much less admit them to anyone? Due to my own unfortunate lifelong tendency to broadcast publicly most of my silly notions, I have a long catalog of flinch-worthy history. I just remembered this morning, however, a really boneheaded idea for a novel that I had when I was ten years old.  And, in keeping with my practice of sharing, I am now going to tell you about it in hopes that it will inspire people to go to the comments section and reveal their own silliness for us all to consider.

Though I have yet to build any kind of credible writing career, I have been working on it off and on since early childhood. By the time I was ten, I was spending a great deal of time ensconced in my bedroom, seated at my writing desk. I had on my desk the following items: a sturdy old manual typewriter of the sort that Harlan Ellison always brags about as being his only writing tool, a neat stack of paper for the typewriter, a stack of three-subject spiral notebooks that were employed in some kind of arcane system, pens and pencils in a Ziggy pen-holder, and a plastic file storage box to contain my 3x5 index cards on which I would take certain notes. There was also a globe and maybe a few pieces of Star Trek bric-a-brac. (My present-day desk is much like it except all the prehistoric writing junk has been supplanted by a MacBook). 

During this period, about age 10, I had read Pierre Boulle's Planet of the Apes and David Gerrold's tie-in novel for the film Battle for the Planet of the Apes (not understanding that the two had fuck-all to do with one another) and had become rather taken with the whole apes-ruling-the-world concept. Once while seated at my writing desk during these days, I was struck dumb with inspiration: what if BIRDS ruled the world!? So I set about crafting an elaborate plot--using index cards and my weird notebook system--based on the premise of a troubled civilization where an overlord caste of grungy predatory and carrion-eating birds (hawks, ravens, eagles, ospreys, vultures and the like) ruled over the masses of "nicer" birds (parrots, cockatiels, love birds, canaries, parakeets, finches, etc.). Of course, they were all sentient and could talk like humans. Hmm. Well, it did not cross my young mind that a straight-up rip-off of the apes idea, substituting birds, just wasn't ever going to go anywhere. Fortunately, from a time-waste standpoint, I was much better at dreaming up these ideas than actually writing the stories to go with them. I did, however, plot the thing in some detail using my index cards. Naturally, it was all to culminate in a feathery blood-soaked revolution in which the macaw rebel leader defeated the sinister osprey suzerain.

That's just one example from my imaginative past.  Does anyone else have any?

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Merc said...

LOL! Oh yes... wow... I think probably the ones I recall best are total ripoffs of REDWALL by Brian Jacques (and the rest of his series), and Star Wars. Only with mustelids as the heroes (there was a ferret space cadet one).

Needless to say that never went anywhere. ;) Though I do still love anthro fantasy and intend to keep at it, I have hopefully avoided the Redwall/SW, er... ripoffs. ;)

Brandon said...

I wrote a story as a teen called Rebirth, Inc. which was about a company that brought people back from the dead, with unforseen issues. Then I read Dan Simmons 'The River Styx Flows Upstream'. Drat.
I think most of my dreadful, knowingly ripped-off ideas were attempts at Lovecraft Mythos stories, which I have yet to really write although metafictional -I guess- references abound in my stories.

Anonymous said...

I went through a stage when I was about thirteen where I wrote nothing but one page sci-fi erotica stories. I had to keep them under my bed to hide them from my parents. There was some rather embarassing Star Wars fanfic among those stories...

Christopher Fletcher said...

Yeah, Derek, I actually did a fair amount of that too at about the same age, using Star Wars and other universes for fodder. Also, I think I was for a while the sole proponent on Earth of DUNE slash fic. Fortunately I never found (or created) a venue to publish such things.

Unknown said...

In high school I got called into the principal's office and was accused of plagiarizing David Eddings of all people. At the time I was appalled and super defensive, but in hindsight, the principal and the kid who ratted me were right--I totally ripped off Eddings' entire first series of books and crammed the entire plot into a 9 page story. Ironically, my 9th grade prose is more palatable to me now than the books I actually ripped off. Gawd, I used to love Eddings' stuff...

Christopher Fletcher said...

Yeah! this is the kind of crap up to which I knew someone would fess! Garrett: Eddings rip-offs! I feel your pain, bro, Kene: you must have been the coolest geek ever in school with your sexy Collins-Robbins pastiche--love it!


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