Thoughts about Ghost Story and Burnt Bridges

I had a call yesterday from my Father.  He asked if I was doing ok and if anything was bothering me.  Figuring he was talking about my day job, I said everything was fine.  He told me he was just making sure given my writing on “Burnt Bridges”.  I laughed and reassured him everything was fine and that it was just another writing exercise.

This moment did offer a chance to let you why I wrote what I did and what ked me to do it in the first place.  It also allows me the chance to compare “Ghost Story” and “Burnt Bridges”

Let’s start with “Ghost Story”.

The idea for “Ghost Story” came from ,expectedly enough, “Ghost Hunters”.  My wife and I enjoy the show very much and have watched it for years.  (Her more than me due to writing workshops and blogging.)

There is one episode that really caught my attention.  I can’t tell you the episode number, year, or name because I just don’t know; but it’s the episode that has Meatloaf appearing in it for the first time.  (LOL The singer, not the food.)  They were investigating a house on an island that one a contest.  The part that stood out for me is that the spirit or ghost that was haunting it was a priest.  I found that very strange.  If anyone has a direct line to heaven, I’d expect it to be a priest.  So why was this guy still hanging around?

That opened up the proverbial can of questions I always had about ghosts:

What do they see? What do they feel?  Do they experience time?  Have their habits and viewpoints changed while hanging around?  Can they communicate with the ghosts/spirits of animals?  If so, what do the animal spirits think and say?

I thought about these question for maybe half a day before they got pushed to the back burner by other random thoughts and questions.  It wasn’t until I saw that building in El Jo Bean that the idea came back to me.  I figured other people had the same questions so I’d write a story about it and have someone answer them.

I also wanted a nice story. Most ghost stories are of the horror genre and except for “Casper” I can’t think of any friendly ghost movie being made recently.  (Recent means the last five or six years, so the movie, “Ghost” doesn’t qualify.  Now that I think of it, “Casper” might not either.)

So with a general idea, I started to write.  I had the generalities in mind but let the story form on itself.  I never expected it to go as long as it did.  If anything, I figured it’d go two parts.

The response to it was surprising.  You guys really liked it.  That was cool.  I’m very glad that you had fun getting into it.  I liked that as much as writing it.

When Ida faded into the sunrise, I ended the story. She answered all the questions, so I felt it was complete.

I had multiple requests for more.

I felt that meant you wanted another story.  But what to write?  I had just finished a happy ghost story, could I do dark?  I did mention that I would try to venture there more this year, so why not?

I wanted to mix it up a little as well.  Not make it just a horror story but a detective story as well.  I’ve seen so many mysteries on TV since I can recall and wanted to see if I could write that style and make it believable.

I used Angle Heart as my basis.  For those that have never heard of it, Angel Heart was a disastrous movie made in 1987 starring Lisa Bonet and Mickey Rourke.  (This was my first viewing of a movie starring him, so I had no idea how weird disturbing it would be.)  That movie pretty much killed Lisa’s career and was the rallying cry for a new rating higher than “R”.  (Many thought it should’ve been rated “X”.)

But that’s not why I chose it.  I picked it because of the character Mickey played and the way the plot twisted and shocked you at the end.  I wanted to see if I could do that as well, without the sex scenes.

So I started to write.  Again I had just a general idea.  I’d let the characters lead the way.  The one thing I noticed right away is that it was much harder to throw in the “ghost” part into the plot.  It was always there, but it was completely different than before.

Instead of being up front and out in the open, it was almost hidden.  Subtle and withdrawn.  Many times I was afraid I’d lose that whole part completely.  It took a lot of effort to get it noticed at all.

I liked how it turned out though.  It’s so ambiguous and argument could be made that there was never a ghost haunting Frank at all.  Maybe it was his subconscious distorting his perspective of things.  Maybe the wiring was faulty in his ghetto apartment.  Maybe his rub down car was just prone to not starting and shorts in the radio caused it to randomly flip stations.  Or maybe not.

That part was fun.

The massive amount of swearing?  Well, he was a jerk and alcoholic. It was just part of his character.  He was as crappy as his surroundings and fun to write about.  I’d hate to meet someone like that in real life, but they make for a great anti-hero character.

I also liked how the ending happened.  There were a lot of questions.

Did he really see a ghost?  Was he led to his death or did he do it himself?  Was it the guilt that caused him to do what he did?  Was it the drinking?  Or was it something else?  Is he the father?  Did he even know about the baby?  What do you think?

I left it vague so you could come up with your own answers.  Some stories need to be like that, I think.

What I didn’t think is how long this one would be.  Over 5,000 words! I never saw that coming.  I figured I’d knock this one out in the same size as Ghost Story.  Boy was I wrong there.  (It’s also why I broke it up and posted different things in between.  I didn’t want everyone here to think this site was going totally dark and gloomy.)  I never expected it to be the size it became. (I have to ask, have you had this happen to you as well?  You start writing with a general idea of how long the project’s going to be and have it just take on a life of it’s own?)

I’m glad I did it, but I’m also glad it’s done.  I have other posts and projects begging to be put on screen.  Now they’ll get their chance.  For those who are worried that it’ll be yet another story, fear not.  I have some nice travel posts that I want to talk about, so we’ll be gong back to the travel side again for a while.

For everyone that went with me on this story ride, thank you.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Creative writing is something I enjoy and I will be posting more stories in the future.  In the meantime there are so many different things screaming for attention right now it’s almost unreal.  I have thoughts, comments, and pictures I want to get out.

Brighter posts are about to happen.  I think you’ll enjoy them.

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