Saturday, May 5, 2012

FlashForward Lets Me Down Again

A couple of years ago, FlashForward the TV show caught my fancy. It really was all about the people collapsing in unison. What's not to love about a whole population passing out in synchronization? Then ABC did the tried-and-true death dance with the show, airing it randomly and with huge gaps between new episodes. I lost track of it, found it on Hulu, and then lost patience completely. The idea of it, however, remained in my thoughts. I wanted to know the end of the story.

A few months ago, I remembered that it was originally a book by Robert J. Sawyer. A few days later, I had it in my hands.

It was a good book. Compelling, interesting, intriguing. The only problem was, it wasn't the book I wanted. It didn't explore the direction I wanted it to. Sawyer went the route of a few individual's response to seeing a piece of their future, and the ending was about something completely different.

That's not what I wanted. I wanted a mystery behind the blackouts. I wanted a plot and people pulling the strings, causing the black outs. I wanted people to use their foreknowledge for good (there were very few examples of this in the novel). I wanted a whole different story.

Without conscious thought, I'd written my own version of the story, or at least pieces of it. I'd taken it the direction that interested me.

That I know of, I've never had an opportunity where I was told the plot idea of the novel, given the basic premise, shown the beginning, then left wondering about the ending. Either I finished the story (the novel, the TV show, the movie), or it wasn't compelling enough to catch my attention, and therefore, I didn't care about the ending.

I'm reminded a little of a creative problems from Odyssey of the Mind: Everyone gets the same set of tools and then is told to make something (a robot, a vehicle that flies, etc.)...and no two people's end result looks the same. Had Sawyer and I been in the same room when his intriguing plot idea was handed out, we would have had two stories that looked nothing alike by the time they were finished.

Of course, his novel won Aurora Award and Europe's Top SF Award and was made into a TV show, while my writing languishes on my computer's desktop, so perhaps his story idea wasn't so bad after all.

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