P.O.V. No.18 - Storytelling

The Idea
An article about idea-development problems

Gunnar Wille

It was early in the morning. He sat staring out the window when an idea suddenly entered his morning-drowsy brain:

The idea
"An isolated house surrounded by a wild and untended garden. It is a bright summer evening. A woman, a very beautiful woman, opens a window on the first floor and looks down into the garden where a dwarf is standing in the high, uncut grass. She yells something at the little man and slams the window furiously. The dwarf puts on his hat and turns his back to the house…"

Perhaps the idea was not even good, but it might develop into another idea that could be used for something. That is, if it was allowed to simmer in the back of his head for a while. And if it was then allowed to pop up in his head again to have another woman added to it, sitting naked up a tree in the middle of a field a kilometer from the house.

He was wide awake. He loved ideas that just popped up in his head like that, without any effort on his part. These ideas seem to develop all by themselves, out of the blue, and suddenly they are there. You could be doing the dishes, be on your way to a metro station or just be sitting and staring out the window as he had just done, and suddenly it comes to you. In short, ideas are born when you are not making an effort to develop them. And in his opinion, these ideas were the best. They have a freshness to them that is rarely there when you have worked hard to develop an idea. He had often asked himself the question: How does one actually get an idea? And he had not succeeded in coming up with an unambiguous answer. After all it is very unlikely that you will get an idea if you just sit down and stare out the window. And then he realised that it was not the first time that this specific idea had entered his head. This was an idea that kept popping up. And consequently he would soon have to do something about it. He had to find out what it was all about. He had to find out what the woman yelled. He had to figure out the story of the little man and where he was going…

Then there was a ring at his front door. He was still sitting in his bathrobe, his hair looking as if he had slept in it. He looked at his watch. It was nine o'clock. He was not expecting anyone. Oh well, he adjusted his bathrobe and shuffled through the long corridor from the kitchen to the living room and the hall. Yawning his head off, he opened the door. Outside stood the Producer. He stopped in the middle of a yawn and stared foolishly at the large, broad man who was standing on the staircase. The Producer was wearing white shoes, white trousers, a white shirt, a white jacket and a loud red tie, cutting like a bleeding wound down his pot belly. His head was round and almost bald. His spectacle frame was red and he had a white goatee on his fat chin.

- Hello there, - he said and walked uninvited into the hall. - It seems that once again my favourite director has forgotten our appointment. -

It was true. There was no disputing it. He had forgotten it. And as he was closing the door, another person appeared on the staircase. The Writer. It seemed that they were going to have one of their brainstorming sessions. That was the only time he would have a meeting with both of them at the same time. The Writer went past him, following the Producer, into the living room. He, who was as usually dressed all in black, raised his black soft hat exposing his short, blond, spiky hair while giving him one of his dry, ironic smiles that made his long thin face look like a diabolic horse. The living room looked as if it had housed a gigantic party and that was true; many people, a number of friends and other good people, had called on him the day before and they had stayed till the small hours. As far as he could remember, the Writer had been one of them and now he looked lively and fit as a fiddle as if he had slept the whole night. He was clean and pleasant-smelling. Annoying. In honour of the occasion, he was wearing a loud green tie in the middle of his narrow chest. He himself, the Director, was wearing his worn bathrobe of a nondescript dirty yellow and underneath a pair of flabby boxer shorts with a print of small dogs doing it doggy-style. He was unshaven and probably smelled of booze and bonking. His wife had left him two months ago and there had been a couple of female friends at the party as far as he remembered.

The living room was furnished with a black leather sofa and a table-top placed on two beer crates. Piles of books were placed along the walls. His wife had taken everything of value. The floor and the table-top were littered with empty bottles and filled ashtrays. With visible disgust the Producer sat down in the sofa and pushed the bottles away. The Writer sat at the other end of the sofa, primly hitching up his knife-edge trousers. He himself remained standing at the entrance to the living room.

- As I told you, we have received an enquiry from a production company seeking cooperation, - the Producer said without further commenting on the situation. - They want to hear if we have any good ideas. -

The white Producer and the black Writer looked interestedly at the Director. That is the way it used to be; they came to him, he served up some useable ideas, they would then brainstorm on them together and it would develop from there. The Director cleared his throat and made a feverish search of his empty hung-over brain. The only thing he could find was the idea that had popped up a little while ago. So he decided that maybe it was time to air it. So he dished it up.

- A beautiful woman opens a window and stares down into a garden. A dwarf is standing in the high grass. The woman furiously yells something and slams the window. The dwarf sighs and turns around… -

It became very quiet in the living room.

- Well, you see, - said the Producer. - the distributor had some rather specific requests, as you may remember from our talk five days ago? -

The Producer looked quizzically at the Director who merely looked blankly at him.

- No, you don't, - the Producer smiled patiently. - Allow me to refresh your memory. The distributor who is familiar with your films and who greatly admires you wants something related to sports. A story that takes place in a sports environment, preferably golf! You see, he is convinced that there is a market for such a film. There are no golf films these days. Perhaps there are no films about golf made in Denmark at all and he is dead certain that he will be able to sell it. There are a hell of a lot of people who love golf. -

- A young man who is a talented golfer is run over, - the Director sighed. - He is handicapped, something with one of his legs that needs to be amputated. He overcomes his problem and trains to be able to play golf again. He meets with much resistance, but there is one person who believes in him, a girl, but she is engaged to the son of the evil owner of the golf club. Complications, complications, and they get each other in the end. -

- That was much better. A little thin and predictable. - The Producer smiled and turned to the Writer. - But then, you can fix that, can't you? -

- Mm, yes… - the Writer mumbled. - There needs to be a plot point on page 17… slightly stronger motivation… lots of golf… the evil of the opponent… turning point… last decision… bam, bam, bam… -

- STOP! - the Director yelled. - This is a load of shit. It is no good. How many times must I tell you that it is risky business doing it this way? The plot becomes thin, predictable and the golf people probably won't even want to watch it. The history of art shows that it is not possible. Ideas that are new and interesting and ideas that become successes; they simply cannot be forced. They develop, and when they have developed, you must be ready to greet them. And when they have developed, then the writer can introduce his many good methods of stitching them up into well-functioning stories.

- It is kind of funny with that dwarf, - the Producer said. - Is it because you are a little squirt yourself and your wife has left you… -

- You just shut up! - the Director yelled. - Why is completely irrelevant!! Ideas need time and they need protection. They are not to be pawed by greedy producers or horny writers. They need time to grow into self-contained ideas before they meet the seductive and dangerous world. Let them have that time. And I am talking about years, sometimes even many years before you can take such an idea by the hand and present it at a meeting. Everybody is lying in wait and if you introduce the idea to the world too early, you run the risk of it not being able to stand the pressure. Ideas too can become terribly self-obsessed and selfish. Suddenly they think that they can manage by themselves and function without their creators and that may lead to rape, brainwashing and abuse and that is what kills ideas. Just like people… Now look at my little idea… -

The Director sat down on the floor, exhausted. The double door to the living room next to this one opened and a young girl walked softly in, red-haired. She was wearing very little clothing. Panties and a small T-shirt with a ruined heart logo and the text "I F… New York". She looked sleepy and bleary-eyed.

- Could you please be quiet, - she whispered in a soft and hoarse voice.

The Producer and the Writer followed her happily with their eyes as she walked across the room and disappeared into the darkness of the corridor.

- Well, - the Director thought. - Yes, there definitely was bonking last night. -

The door opened and another girl appeared. This one was wearing even less clothing and ran across the room giggling, covering her breasts with her arms. Even the Director had to follow this one with his eyes. He had no memory of doing anything with the first one, and this new one he had absolutely no recollection of at all. The last person who came out of the room was a little man, not a dwarf, but a man who could only be described as little. He was wearing a pair of the Director's doggy boxer shorts which flapped about his body.

- Hi, - he said to the Producer. - Could you please tell me where I am? I mean, where in Copenhagen… -

He disappeared the same way as the girls and the Director clutched his head.

- And so I imagine that, - he continued his narration. - That there is a room with very strange wallpaper. Wallpaper with a very heavy relief that keeps growing. Every time we enter the room it has changed, become thicker, the relief deeper. The woman is in despair but she cannot control it. And that is precisely what she wants, to control everything. There is this man who dominates her and out in the field, behind the house, is an old tree. Thick stem and a big crown. An oak tree. Up the tree is a naked woman, waiting. It is raining… -

- Oh well, fine with me, - said the Producer. - As long as you provide the dwarf with a golf club! -

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