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03/13/2006 Archived Entry: "Here's an idea for a novel or a screenplay"
NOVELIST LOOKING FOR AN IDEA? Here's an idea looking for a novelist. Or a screenplay writer.
The Nameless Man has just stalked and killed his latest victim. She has put up one hell of a battle, and as he stands in her living room, savoring his grim victory, he catches a shrink prattling on a cheesy talk show.
"All serial killers are cowards," she sniffs. "It's obvious in their choice of victim: women, children, prostitutes, drug addicts, and others on the fringes of society. If they had the courage they tell themselves they had, they'd go after more challenging targets."
The Nameless Man sneers dirisively -- then smashes the television set.
As the next scene opens, we're looking at photos of ultra-famous movie stars, pop singers, models -- and politicians. The Nameless Man's hands bring one photo to the top -- the president of the United States.
Now, I have to stop and leave a nice note for Mr. FBI man, or Mr. or Ms. FBI being as the case may ... er, be. The above scenario is my proposed idea for a piece of fiction. F-I-C-T-I-O-N. As in Dashiell Hammett, you know? Or Alfred Hitchcock? In no way am I saying or implying, with or without limited warranty, that I want some deranged guy to harm a hair on the president's little chinny-chin-chin. Got that?
Anyhow, what makes this idea work is two things. One, you have someone coming at the president who isn't affiliated with any known political group, who isn't part of any conspiracy. He's just a guy on whom no suspicion of anything has ever fallen ... and he's closing in relentlessly.
This has got to be the worst nightmare for anyone assigned to protect the president. For all the talk about "lone nut assassins" (and the absolutely astonishing number of them we seem to have, wink-wink, nod-nod), I'll bet that the careful planner, the wily hunter, the motiveless and trackless man -- the man who simply wants to prove he's great enough to take out the world's most difficult human target -- would hit the Secret Service and the FBI broadside.
That's thing one. Thing two is who these two people are.
The president -- who, I will add, Dear FBI person, doesn't bear one iota of resemblance to the esteemed current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue -- is a brainless, inarticulate little weasel whose daddy and handlers lifted him into office. He's a warmongering, war-profittering monster (and all the worse because he's also an oafish, almost adolescent-like boy). He's got only two agendas: The first is ensuring that his blind (wink-wink, nod-nod) trust is fatter when he leaves office; the second is shoving his grade-school level of understanding about "freedom" and "democracy" onto everyone in the universe with more brutality than Torquemada, Vlad Dracul, and Erzebet Bathory combined.
He is, in short, the tantrum-tossing two-year-old from hell -- elevated to the highest office in the world.
And I must hasten to add again, Dear FBI thing, that the photo of the president selected by The Nameless Man, and the presidential actor shown elsewhere in the film (because this is feeling more and more like a film to me) show none but the most coincidental similarity to our current Glorious Leader. Totally, totally different person. Movie actor. A-C-T-O-R. And not one that's even going to get elected president someday. It's really okay, I mean it. Calm down. Even the Screen Actors Guild shop foreman thinks it's okay. See?
So you have it: bad guy against bad guy. How can you root for a serial killer (other, perhaps, than Hannibal Lector)? Yet how can you not want President Brat smacked down?
The touch of genius (if this kind of essentially pot-boiler story can be lifted even remotely near genius, which I admit would take skill of truly Robert Harris-y or William Goldman-ish proportions) is in making these two monsters each likeable in his own way, and each equally detestible. And of course, making the hunt and the chase interesting and believable.
Sigh, there's the real challenge.
In these stories you usually also have the Heroic Federal Agent who serves as the killer's real opponent. You know; the guy who spots the threat before anyone else does and who has to tackle it on his own because the bureaucrats won't listen to him? That guy? But in this case, if he exists, he's a different sort. A sharp-eyed, competent agent and faithful to his duties. But he loathes the Weasel-in-Chief -- perhaps on general principles or perhaps because his son or younger brother was hideously maimed in one of the president's ego-driven wars. This agent doesn't believe in assassination -- but he secretly believes the world would be a better place without this deadly global tantrum-thrower in the presidency. So as he perceives vague signs of the threat, he has decidedly mixed feelings about what his responsibilities are. (Or her responsibilities; that's possible, too.)
Any good writer out there with an interest in taking this idea further? Go for it. I don't want anything except ... oh, half your profits for the rest of your life. No, no, seriously. All I ask is a credit "from an idea by Claire Wolfe" after your own author's credit and, if you make a hit book and/or movie out of it, a modest percent of your royalties. (And since I probably wouldn't have the means to enforce even that, I'll rely on your honor. You are honorable, aren't you? Sure, I knew you were.)
I thought about doing something with this myself. It's not my kind of thing, though. And I don't know enough about Washington, DC, or security around the president to make it believable. But can't you just see this in the movies?
Posted by Claire @ 12:33 PM CST