Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Literary Approach to Bank Robbing

Unlike a number of writers you know now and have known in the past, your approach to storytelling comes most often and best from seeing two or more characters engaged in a situation, rather than beginning with the formulation of a dramatic design.

You are not, in any sense, writing to set a character after a specific goal, then tracking the consequences of that quest as the character puts plans into operation.  You more often than not begin with something in motion, a meeting, the aftereffects of an event, an event gone wrong.  Then you set about using that vision as a spine for the overall discovery you are tracking.

One such circumstance has been dancing about in your mind, pure concept, yet an exaggerated commentary from you on the many editorial meetings you've experienced and the many, perhaps too many faculty meetings.  You got the idea while on your way to a meeting, held in the conference rooms facilities of a large resort hotel her in Santa Barbara.

The room in which your appointed meeting was held had all the amenities, starting with a long table, comfortable chairs, pads of paper for doodling, other, lined pads for taking notes, a large screen on which Power Point presentations could be made, and at least two electrical outlets at each seat, enough for a small tablet or portable computer, and one to use for recharging a cell phone.  

Also at each starting, a small bowl of the sort you'd expect to find filled with peanuts.  Instead, the bowl was filled with small flash drives which presumably were intended to allow the participants of the meeting to share information from their own computer.  At one corner of the room, a long refreshment stand offered coffee, various dairy items for use with the coffee or the tea that would come from an assortment of herbal and caffeinated tea.

In short, the room in which you found yourself was well equipped for the meeting in which you were to participate.  Impressed as you were with the efficiency and convenience of the surroundings, your experience with such meetings as the one you were to endure led you to note to yourself how, so far as you were concerned, the missing item was interest.  In spite of the plenitude of note paper, working ball point pens, and computer outlets (including wi-fi and cloud technology), you anticipated boredom.

Whenever you anticipate boredom or actually encounter it,your immediate impulse is to look for some form of escape hatch.  In the case of you finding yourself in a much less lavish circumstance relative to attending a traffic school to avoid your driving account being charged with a moving violation, you noticed and accordingly sat near a trail of ants, intent on cookie or cake crumbs. When your present venture began and you saw the immediate signs of boredom, you chose for your targets of observation a meeting in the next conference room over.

There were five men, one of whom stood at a podium.  Directly to his left was a large viewing screen.  The individual at the podium had a laser pointed.  Seated a few feet away, four men ranging in age from late forties to, you guessed, one of shorter, grayer hair.  You put him as a fit sixty.  A single woman in a plain cloth jacket over a white turtleneck sweater.  You began watching because in aggregate they did not seem to you to belong in a conference room, much less a conference room in a resort hotel.

The man at the podium wore a dark gray suit with what appeared to be a maroon knit tie.  None of the other men wore ties.  The more you watched them, the sense you got of them not belonging in that conference room began to appear, for want of a better word, sinister.  That descriptive word was no sooner squeezed out of your brain and into your consciousness than you knew you were on to the first conceptual step of the way stories come to you.

You were immediately kidnapped by jealousy, and as the boredom of your own meeting intensified, you put your conceptualizing to work.  The individuals in the next room were bank robbers, reviewing the essentials of the robbery they were planning.  The individual behind the small lectern was clearly the leader.  The sixty-year-old took on the wary, NASCAR driver authority of the driver of the getaway car.  

You picked the man with wire-frame glasses as the safe expert, and while you had no feel yet about the woman, you imagined her as the one who'd actually picked the branch of the bank to be robbed and was in the caper for an extra cut as a finder's fee.  Her short, choppy brunette hair might have been convenient to maintain but it would be difficult for witnesses to describe.

The idea of a bank robbery being planned out in the conference room of a resort hotel appealed to you.  So did the notion of the man in the black leather jacket complaining that the snacks provided were poor in comparison to the refreshments provided by the principals in the most recent job he'd been in on.

The sinister atmosphere of this group continued to embrace you to the point where you began assigning the characters names and specialties.  You were quite pleased to see that when it came time for coffee, Rose, for that was surely her name, was not the designated coffee server.  In fact, it was Dennis, he of the gray suit and maroon tie.  Rose was clearly the brains, and when she came up to preside over the power point, Dennis was all deference.

This still was not a story; it had a good way to go beyond its conceptual demeanor, but it had delicious possibilities, which you noticed when Rose began pointing with the laser pointer.  You were no longer bored, and with a little work, you might turn the concept into a story.  Worst case, when you see real perons in those conference rooms, you'll know what they're meeting about,

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