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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nothing New Under The Sun

When I read Ecclesiastes 1: 9, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun," it makes me think of good writing.

Think about it, no matter what you're faced with, or trying to accomplish, you can be certain that somebody somewhere has already dealt with it [in principal if not in practical reality]. Think about Levi and Simeon, two of the twelve sons of Jacob, and their reaction after their sister Dinah had been raped by Shechem.  I know, I know, some of these names are hard on the tongue, but the actions of their hearts are all too familiar.

Again. Lust, jealousy, and the desire for revenge... all the virgin seeds of good story telling; and all the seeds of the fallen nature of man. When we write our stories we do not often focus on the heights of man's accomplishments, but rather contrast those higher traits against their darker more nefarious cousins. [Don’t you just love that word, nefarious?]

Two brothers, enraged by injustice, set themselves against an entire city to revenge the dishonoring of their baby sister. After talking the men of Canaan into circumcising themselves, the two sons of Jacob wait until the men are overcome with fever and sickness and under the cover of darkness they put the whole male population to death.

Imagine the roiling of emotions, the single minded determination that allows these brothers’ passion to carry out their quest. A city of circumcised men, a darkened night and the flashing of swords, a stream of blood on the floor and the deed is done.

We see these ancient accounts of men, their troubles and how they dealt with them, and we either curse or applaud their decisive actions. Now play it forward and remember the grandmother in Australia, how she took it upon herself to hunt down and shoot the two men that car-jacked and raped her beloved granddaughter. You see life on the streets, both dusty trials and paved highways, the seeds of urban fiction resides all around us.

Next time, I will talk to you about how your typical city police department approaches the investigation of a crime. What I would like to do is dissect an investigation from an insider’s perspective. I will let you decide what crime you would rather walk through with me. Use the post and let me know what peaks your interest and together we will discuss how to use those aspects to create your own storylines.

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