14 Sep 2011

Silly Legs

They say that the first rule when writing a mystery you start from the solution first and work backwards. That way you know where your going. But in writing silly legs (trust me, that's just a working title) I thought, no, I'll do the stupid thing and come up with a mystery and then work out the solution.  

Obviously I never intended to take the stupid route. The fact was i was thinking of ideas for T4L whilst waiting for the tube on the way to work - early morning looking at my legs. My legs are often a massive source of inspiration for me but on that day they were no help at all. Damn legs.

But then I remember looking into the tube tunnel and thinking what if I just jumped? Not a serious thought of course, more just entertaining the idea of jumping. That same thought I think everyone gets at times.

What if I became insane for 5 seconds?
What if my brain decided to do it just for a laugh?
Or...what if i had nothing to do with it, if my legs decided to do it?

It was then that the opening scene for silly legs was born. What if a man on the tube platform has to watch his legs start moving closer to the platform edge as the tube comes in. He shouts, he rages at his legs to stop but they don't and then he is dead. Forced off the platform by something he can't control.

Brilliant, I chuckled because like most writers I'm not beyond enjoying some evil mischief. But then my mind thought, great that this poor sucker does it, but why does he do it? I realised it would be fun to turn this initial idea into a mystery story once I'd figured out the why myself. No problem, I thought, easy peesy.

It was probably about 2 weeks later when I realised the crucial point. I had no idea why someone's legs would move of their own accord. I'd set limits for myself of course which didn't help but ones that I felt were important to the genre of mystery... i.e within the realms of plausibility. I had a few ideas but they were all a bit *meh*. I knew something was there, some angle that would make the story shine.

Finally, on a Saturday I looked at my feet and went 'it's you silly buggers that got me in this rut so you can help get me out of this' and went for a walk. I was determined to walk until I came up with a solution or I was dead. My legs immediately submitted a revised manifesto for the day – come up with the idea or stop off at an ale house and 'have a think'. I agreed.

I made it to Finsbury Park train station and stopped to look at the trains coming in. I remember thinking that I should really observe everything that was going on, stop and take my time and really see. A train went by, then another. I just took it all in. Then about 5 minutes later my own personal train of thought arrived and I knew, I absolutely knew why someone's legs would go out of control and take them to the edge. I felt that tingle, that moment when you know you have it. That moment when an idea becomes the story – the story you want to tell. 

So what was it? What was the answer? Why do his legs take him too his death? Well, let me tell you....Or na-a-a-ah, let's not. Because the second rule of Mystery is it's not the solution that's the fun, it's the getting there.

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